Former Homeless Veterans Seek to Block Surf City Move to Limit Affordable Housing

Now with fewer housing opportunities.
Now with fewer housing opportunities.
Photo by flickr user Ron Wynne

Two formerly homeless veterans are seeking an Orange County Superior Court injunction to stop Huntington Beach from blocking the construction of affordable housing in the so-called Beach-Edinger Corridor.

The Petition for Alternative Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief was filed July 31 by the vets and the Kennedy Commission, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for affordable housing in Orange County. The plaintiffs are represented by the Public Law Center, the California Affordable Housing Law Project and Jones Day, the respected international law firm that has an office in Irvine.

The litigation comes in response to the Huntington Beach City Council on May 4 adopting an amendment that blocks the development of affordable housing in the Beach-Edinger Corridor, which is Surf City's primary location for residential development. The veterans, commission and their lawyers contend the Beach-Edinger Corridor Specific Plan (BECSP) is in direct conflict with the city's own General Plan Housing Element, which was approved by the California Department of Housing and Community Development in 2013.

"Orange County is among the top ten least affordable metropolitan markets in the nation," says Cesar Covarrubias, executive director of the Kennedy Commission. "Eighty percent of the people employed in Huntington Beach commute from outside city limits, while one-third to one-half of all Huntington Beach residents spend an unaffordable share of their income on housing costs. Huntington Beach's efforts to block development of affordable housing will worsen the housing crisis."

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Asked for a response to the court move and Covarrubias' comments, Huntington Beach Public Information Officer Julie Toledo replied, "City policy is that we don't comment on pending or active litigation."

The plaintiffs claim the imposition of "a development cap" will bring the city "burdensome parking, setback, height, and use restrictions, and costly and time-consuming discretionary permit requirements." Their petition aims to void "the city's unlawful conflict with state law, violation of the Due Process clause of the California Constitution, and unlawful housing discrimination."

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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