Special to the Vanguard
Oakland, CA – The California Attorney General is on the front lines of the housing crisis. On Tuesday, his office filed an amicus brief in Save Livermore Downtown v. City of Livermore in support of the City of Livermore’s request for dismissal or expedited review of an appeal challenging its approval of a 130-unit affordable housing project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
According to a release from the AG’s office, “A trial court flatly rejected Save Livermore Downtown’s claims and dismissed the lawsuit.”
Despite that, the litigation continues to delay the project, now threatening to jeopardize the project’s funding.
Now, the continued delay caused by this litigation threatens to jeopardize the project’s funding. As California confronts a severe housing shortfall, Attorney General Rob Bonta argues that “CEQA must not be allowed to thwart the construction of necessary affordable housing or the statutory processes intended to streamline these projects.
“Timing is critical for affordable housing projects, which often rely on time-sensitive funding sources like tax credits to finance development,” said Attorney General Bonta.
The AG added, “The project at issue in this case would bring desperately needed affordable housing to the City of Livermore, and I commend the City for its efforts to address the housing needs of its community. Our state is continuing to face a housing shortage and affordability crisis of epic proportions. CEQA plays a critical role in protecting the environment and public health here in California.”
He argued, “We won’t stand by when it is used to thwart new development, rather than to protect Californians and our environment. Expedited review of this case will be key to allowing this development to proceed without further delay.”
Six months ago, a trial court rejected all of Save Livermore Downtown’s claims and imposed a $500,000 bond obligation based on the lawsuit’s lack of merit. Despite this finding, the group appealed. By dragging out the litigation, Save Livermore Downtown has jeopardized the project’s financing and potentially put the entire viability of the project at risk.
The brief filed by the AG in support of the City of Livermore, “pushes back against this abuse of CEQA to unduly delay a much-needed housing project.”
According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, California will need an estimated 2.5 million new homes by 2030 in order to meet housing demand. Yet on average only 100,000 new homes are built in California each year. Infill development — the development of vacant or underutilized plots in existing urban areas — is critical for local governments to address the housing crisis and meet state housing goals.
The City of Livermore carefully followed a planning process that comports with both the letter and spirit of state law. Attorney General Bonta urges the court to expedite judicial review of the appeal to the fullest extent possible, arguing that the mere filing of an appeal in a CEQA case must not be permitted to stall or block critical projects.
A copy of the brief can be found here.