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.
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 articles:
- A developer has proposed a 17-story tower and huge housing development in Palo Alto (Silicon Valley Business Journal, November 27, 2023)
- Cupertino sees its first ‘builder’s remedy’ project (The Mercury News, November 27, 2023)
- Juno Realty to replace R&D buildings with apartments in Palo Alto (TheRealDeal, November 16, 2023)
- Developer upsizes Builder’s Remedy project at 217 S. Hamilton Drive in Beverly Hills (Urbanize, November 9, 2023)
- Developers plan 1,901 homes in Morgan Hill under ‘builder’s remedy’ (Morgan Hill Times, November 2, 2023)
- California may see affordable housing boom as its “builder’s remedy” law is tested by local developers (The Architect’s Newspaper, August 22, 2023)
- Court issues major builder’s remedy ruling on La Cañada Flintridge (TheRealDeal Real Estate News, July 13, 2023)
- Developer Leverages Unique California Housing Laws To Get Plans Approved (CoStar, June 27, 2023)
- South Bay developer invokes ‘Builder’s Remedy’ to proceed with condo project (CBS News, June 21, 2023)
- ‘Godzilla next door’: How California developers gained new leverage to build more homes (CalMatters, June 5, 2023)
- Housing-Strapped States Reach for a Fraught Fix: the ‘Builder’s Remedy’ (Bloomberg, May 8, 2023)
- See the list: Developers file 26 Southern California builder’s remedy projects (The Orange County Register, February 27, 2023)
- Some California cities can’t stop apartment projects as developers use ‘builder’s remedy’ (The Orange County Register, February 27, 2023)
- Developers propose 576 homes in Orange, some at the mall, others by hospital (The Orange County Register, February 9, 2023)
- Builder’s Remedy May Shake Up Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills Courier, November 25, 2022)
- Builder’s remedy for cities’ NIMBYs (Los Angeles Daily News, November 8, 2022)