Court Denies Huntington Beach’s Request for a Temporary Restraining Order

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Special to the Vanguard

Oakland, CA – A US District Court for the Central District of California denied the City of Huntington Beach’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in Huntington Beach v. Newsom, which attempted to halt enforcement of state housing laws in the city while litigation is ongoing.

Attorney General Bonta filed opposition to Huntington Beach’s TRO on behalf of the State yesterday, arguing that Huntington Beach has no standing to sue in federal court, and that the city’s lawsuit is baseless on its face.

The AG’s office argued, “California’s housing laws are not only legally sound, but crucial to addressing California’s ongoing housing crisis.”

The decision on Tuesday denied Huntington Beach’s request to temporarily block enforcement of state housing laws.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Local governments don’t get to pick and choose which state laws they want to follow. Huntington Beach’s lawsuit is another baseless and obstructionist attempt by the city to defy state housing laws,” said Attorney General Bonta.

The AG added, “Our state housing laws are a crucial tool for bringing much needed affordable housing to our communities. I applaud the court for today’s decision denying Huntington Beach’s latest attempt to block their city’s residents from accessing crucial housing opportunities afforded by state law. The California Department of Justice will continue to fight to increase housing supply throughout the state, and hold Huntington Beach accountable to state law.”

In the lawsuit filed on March 9, Huntington Beach brought claims in federal court, alleging that the state’s Housing Accountability Act and Housing Element laws violate federal constitutional law, including the right to free speech and due process.

In the State’s opposition brief, Attorney General Bonta defended the state laws and argued that not only are the city’s claims baseless, but that Huntington Beach is facing neither imminent nor irreparable harm, and does not have standing to bring the lawsuit in federal court.

The AG argued California has the explicit right to oversee and govern conduct of its cities and counties. In fact, they added, the Supreme Court has expressly held that municipal governments do not have federal constitutional rights vis-à-vis state governments.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Bonta, Governor Gavin Newsom, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) filed a lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach for violating state housing laws.

The lawsuit followed a decision by the Huntington Beach City Council declining to reverse its February 21 action banning the processing of applications for SB 9 projects and ADU projects, in violation of multiple state housing laws.

California’s lawsuit came after Attorney General Bonta and HCD each issued multiple letters last month under their separate enforcement authorities, urging the Huntington Beach City Council to reject these unlawful and willful attempts to flout state housing laws, which directly threaten statewide efforts to increase the availability of low- to middle-income housing opportunities in the midst of a statewide housing crisis.

“State leaders stand united in their commitment to defending and increasing access to affordable housing in California,” the AG’s office said on Tuesday.

In 2021, Attorney General Bonta announced the creation of a Housing Strike Force within the California Department of Justice aimed at advancing housing access across the state.

The same year, Governor Newsom launched a Housing Accountability Unit to increase stringent enforcement and oversight at the local level to create more housing, faster across California.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit the California Department of Justice’s Housing Portal and HCD’s website for more resources and information aimed at supporting access to housing.

A copy of the decision is available here.

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4 Comments

    1. Ron Oertel

      I’m not actually seeing anything from the court itself, other than this:

      Oakland, CA – A US District Court for the Central District of California denied the City of Huntington Beach’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in Huntington Beach v. Newsom, which attempted to halt enforcement of state housing laws in the city while litigation is ongoing.

      The decision on Tuesday denied Huntington Beach’s request to temporarily block enforcement of state housing laws.

      Most of the rest of the article consists of extraneous public relations nonsense from the attorney general.

      Regardless, individual actions by cities are probably not the way in which the war will be won. At least, not on its own.

      My guess is that (legally), the state might be vulnerable regarding how it came up with its numbers in the first place (e.g., see state auditor report regarding that).

      The economic/housing/population downturn will derail most of the state’s plans, on their own. Which might even be “fortunate” for the state and their business friends, since (if they were (ACTUALLY) successful on a broader level, they’d be writing their own political death sentence regarding the war they’ve declared on their own constituents. Ultimately, leading to a grass-roots effort to overturn state control.

      In some ways, I do wish that the state was successful in pissing-off some of their own constituents – as they wouldn’t be able to constrain or control the reaction.

      1. David Greenwald

        Basically the city asked the court to put a TRO which would have halted enforcement of the state housing laws, there is a standard to getting such a ruling, and they didn’t meet it. That’s significant. It’s not definitive, but it is significant.

        1. Ron Oertel

          There’s nothing definitive about any of this (in terms of reality, legality, or politically).

          But yes, they apparently weren’t able to win the temporary restraining order while the litigation is ongoing.  (I don’t know if they can appeal that, or if they would do so.)

          But like I said, I’m actually hoping that the state succeeds for a few rounds of this war.  And it might as well be Huntington Beach, at first.

          There’s no other way to wake up the larger populace.  (Then again, if the housing/economic/population downturn results in a losing battle for the state overall, maybe few will even notice what they’re attempting.)

          My guess is that this type of thing will be fought over for a long, long time.  And may not even become apparent for a few years (e.g., assuming that the housing market recovers).  At which point, neighbors will be asking, “why did the city approve that giant multifamily housing development in the neighborhood”?  (Without even realizing that city officials had no power to stop it.)

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