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League Testifies in Opposition to Bill That Extends Statute of Limitations for Challenges to Housing Elements, Ordinances and Programs

May 2, 2013
The League was in a long line of organizations that spoke in opposition to AB 325 (Alejo) in the Housing and Community Development Committee hearing Wednesday morning.
 
The bill expands from one to four years the statute of limitations to sue a city or county over the adoption of a housing element, the implementation of the housing element, the adoption of a density bonus ordinance, and other local government decisions related to housing.
 
The bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote of 5–1. Assembly Member Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) seconded the motion by Assembly Member Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) but asked that the author and sponsors have a dialogue with local government organizations.
 
Betsy Strauss, League Special Counsel, testified in opposition, along with Immediate Past President and Mountain View Council Member Mike Kasperzak and Rocklin City Council Member George Magnuson. Others opposing AB 325 included the California State Association of Counties, the Regional Council of Rural Counties, the Civil Justice Association of California and the cities of Burbank, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Alameda, Lakewood, Rancho Cucamonga and Torrance.
 
Strauss stressed that the bill in fact would not create more affordable housing but rather result in cities being subject to unnecessary litigation. Cities need greater certainty to create more affordable housing, and this bill would penalize the vast majority of cities that obtain HCD-approved housing elements.
 
Extending this already lengthened period to four years is completely contrary to the intent of the section of the law that the bill would amend, which now says: “The Legislature finds … it is essential to reduce delays and restraints upon expeditiously completing housing projects … and further finds and declares that a legal action or proceeding challenging a decision of a city, county, or city and county has a chilling effect on the confidence with which property owners and local governments can proceed.”
 
The League requested that, instead of opening up local agencies to litigation for four years, AB 325 be amended instead to:
  • Keeps intact the Pleasanton ruling for jurisdictions that adopt a housing element — no changes to Section 65009 (d) for any city or county that adopts a housing element.
  • Allow third parties 60 days to give notice to the local agency after HCD's findings under Section 65585 (h) and the ability to file suit within one year of receiving the local agency's response to the letter.  
  • Delete Section 65589.3 (b).
  • Make the statute of limitations for failure to adopt a four-year statute of limitations with a 90-day notification requirement for locals to respond.
Next Step
 
The bill next moves to the Assembly Local Government Committee on May 8. The League asks cities to send letters of opposition. A sample letter can be found on the League’s website at www.cacities.org/billsearch by plugging "AB 325" into the search function.


 
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