What is the Builder’s Remedy?

Builder’s Remedy is a legal provision of the State Housing Accountability Act that prohibits cities from disapproving development proposals that are inconsistent with local zoning and general plan requirements if a city does not have a State-certified Housing Element. Recently, its usage has increased across California, raising concerns about its impact on local communities.

How It Operates

If a city lacks a certified Housing Element, its power to deny or condition housing projects is significantly reduced. This loophole is available to developers, leading to the approval of projects that are inconsistent with the community’s character and planning standards as there are no caps on building heights or density. Regardless of a city’s right-to-vote measures (like Measure B), Builder’s Remedy claims have California state law backing and will supersede local ordinances.

The Threat to Yorba Linda

Yorba Linda currently holds a conditionally-certified Housing Element. The conditionality of our Housing Element rests in the November 2024 ballot measure vote to approve the draft Housing Element that was revised based on feedback from residents. If the ballot measure fails, it will lead to Yorba Linda’s Housing Element being decertified and the City being at risk of Builder’s Remedy applications. Such a scenario could lead to high-density developments, altering the City’s low-density character and potentially straining local resources and infrastructure.

A Theoretical Local Example: The Fairmont Site

Under Builder’s Remedy, developments like the proposed “Hills Preserve” Apartment Project in Anaheim could bypass existing zoning regulations. This means increased housing density without the City’s input or control, leading to unforeseen and often unwanted transformations. This could theoretically happen to the “Fairmont Site” in Yorba Linda under Builder’s Remedy purview.

The Importance of a Certified Housing Element

In terms of avoiding the negative impacts of Builder’s Remedy, obtaining and maintaining a certified Housing Element in line with state requirements is essential. Doing so not only helps the City avoid substantial fines and other penalties, but ensures that Yorba Linda maintains control over local development, safeguarding the City’s character and quality of life while simultaneously working to meet the City’s assigned RHNA housing allocation number.

In Summary

The Builder’s Remedy presents a tangible threat to Yorba Linda’s ability to control local developments. Adopting a certified Housing Element is not just a legal necessity; it is a crucial step in protecting our City’s future, ensuring that development aligns with our community’s needs and values.

More on Builder’s Remedy

Additional information on Builder’s Remedy can be found in the following material: