The Orange County Council of Governments (OCCOG) has lost its lawsuit challenging the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s process for distributing future housing units in Southern California. As a member of OCCOG, the City of Yorba Linda joined this lawsuit in the City’s ongoing efforts to retain local control on housing policy matters. The lawsuit aimed to reduce the number of housing units assigned to the Southern California Association of Governments’ region through the latest Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process. This resulted in Yorba Linda being obligated to plan for 2,415 housing units by 2029. Joining this lawsuit is one of a series of actions taken by the Yorba Linda City Council to push back against state housing mandates and retain local control from both a policy and legal viewpoint. A history of those efforts can be viewed on the City Challenges to State-Mandates page.

In the OCCOG ruling, the Court of Appeal noted that a 2009 case, which the City of Irvine lost, determined that cities cannot challenge their RHNA allocation through the judicial system. You can view the entire OCCOG lawsuit decision (PDF). OCCOG is now weighing its options to appeal the ruling to the California Supreme Court.

“The City of Yorba Linda continues to pursue legal efforts to reduce the impacts of State housing mandates on Yorba Linda while also working to retain our local control by maintaining a certified Housing Element. We can do both at the same time to maximize our options,” said Mayor Gene Hernandez. “Yorba Linda is a beautiful community. Our Council’s interest is to ensure the continuation of Yorba Linda’s quality of life that we all cherish.”

While the City continues to support legal action to protect local control, a citizen-driven, revised Housing Element is in the works thanks to the Resident Housing Policy Working Group’s recent efforts, detailed on the City’s website. The group concluded that an approved and certified Housing Element is crucial to preventing a State takeover of the City’s land-use authority and development approval process. Without a certified Housing Element, the City would be subject to $600,000 monthly fines, loss of State grants, and open itself to Builder’s Remedy projects in which high-density housing projects must be approved even if they go against the character of Yorba Linda’s neighborhoods, the City’s general plan, and local zoning ordinances.

Your input matters! Every Yorba Linda resident will have a say in the Housing Element, as any changes will go to a vote of the people. We will conduct workshops and community meetings soon to share the Resident Housing Policy Working Group’s recommended Housing Element plan and to hear your thoughts. Stay tuned for news about upcoming workshops near you.