Letter: City Responds to Legal Services

Editor’s note: Last week the Vanguard reported on the letter from Legal Services re: Compliance with Housing Element.  In response, the city estimates that the new housing element will be ready for submission by the end of the year, and the city told the Vanguard that the city is working to identify additional sites for rezoning.

Legal Services Issues Letter to Davis Re: Compliance with Housing Element

Re:       Davis Housing Element 2023

Dear Ms. Mansell,

The City of Davis is in receipt of your letter of July 13, 2023, wherein you demand the re- adoption of our 6th Cycle Housing Element (“Housing Element”) by September 13, 2023. As you know, the City first adopted the Housing Element on August 31, 2021, and adopted it again with revisions to respond to comments from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on January 31, 2023. The City received additional comments from HCD on April 3, 2023, and has been working since to respond to those comments and take the actions recommended in that comment letter. A key part of this process is the rezoning of sites for residential use to meet Davis’ housing allocation numbers assigned by the State (HCD Comment Letter, April 3, 2023, page 3).

Under state law, rezoning properties requires notice to property owners and the public, an analysis of environmental impacts pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and public hearings at both the Planning Commission and City Council. See Gov’t Code § 65853-65856. Approval of an ordinance effecting a zone change by City Council requires two readings (first reading/introduction of the ordinance and second reading/final approval), and takes effect 30 days after the final approval. Gov’t Code § 36937.

The City has commenced the rezoning process, but even under the most optimistic time frame, the legal constraints above mean that the rezoning actions will not be effective for several months. The City anticipates that the rezoning will be complete and the third version of the Housing Element will be ready for Council to adopt by the end of this year. The City is endeavoring to move this along as quickly as it possibly can while acting in compliance with state law.

If a meeting with myself and City staff would be helpful to address any specific questions or concerns you have, let me know and I would be happy to facilitate that.

Very truly yours,

Inder Khalsa

City Attorney, City of Davis

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20 Comments

    1. David Greenwald

      Kind of my thought as well. Moreover, end of the year? The door is now wide open if someone wants to press the issue. We’ll see if it’s legal services, that would be ironic, I suppose.

  1. Jim Frame

    That’s it? Not much of a response beyond we’re doing the best we can.

    You were expecting “We aren’t really trying to comply?” instead?

    The letter looks to me like a typical response to a threatened lawsuit.  Should a suit be filed, the city can tell the court that the city is following an established process, and ask that the suit be dismissed because the matter isn’t ripe yet.

      1. Matt Williams

        Will it be Legal Services that actually pulls the trigger on challenging Measure J/R/D?
        Ron G. I believe there is a fatal flaw in Legal Services’ argument.  That flaw arises when they say, “Housing Element Version 2 continues to conclude that Measure J is only a constraint if the City lacks sufficient infill sites.However, a constraint to housing development exists even when the City may be able to demonstrate sufficient sites to address the RHNA.Further, the City currently lacks sufficient infill sites to meet its current housing need. This is proven by its 23.6 acre rezone obligation.Therefore, the City continues to have a duty to remove or further mitigate the impacts of this identified constraint.(bolded emphasis added by me)
        Thatis a very interesting legal argument.  It is particularly interesting in how it relates to City Limits … in all cities.  The argument appears to be saying that the City (and all cities with similar housing constraints have a duty to remove identified constraints in the form of City Limits boundaries.  Can you imagine the Courts finding that City Limits need to vanish?
        As Arte Johnson was known to say, “Ver-r-r-ry Interesting, but …”

        1. Ron Oertel

          That is a very interesting legal argument.  It is particularly interesting in how it relates to City Limits … in all cities.  The argument appears to be saying that the City (and all cities with similar housing constraints have a duty to remove identified constraints in the form of City Limits boundaries.  Can you imagine the Courts finding that City Limits need to vanish?

          This is the second time (within the past few days) that Matt has put forth the most-important point regarding any comment on the Vanguard.

          Or to paraphrase John Lennon, “Imagine there’s no boundaries – it’s not so easy to do . . .”

          The other important comment that Matt put forth related to how Whitcombe’s proposal would actually work at Covell Village II.

        2. David Greenwald

          Matt – I think your reading things into this argument. All cities have boundaries. There are processes by which cities annex and rezone and develop properties. Some cities have added a step for voter approval. It is that step that some are arguing is imposing an impermissible barrier to housing and that will be challenged, not the notion of City Limits altogether.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Some cities have added a step for voter approval.

          Seems to me that it’s not an “addition”, so much as it is a “replacement” for council approval.

          Rendering the council essentially powerless – more/less in an “advisory” role – like a commission.

          Though I suppose that the council has the power to deny before it even reaches voters.  (Has THAT ever happened?)

          But again, the council ultimately has no power to “approve”.  That authority rests with the voters – who have approved two proposals so far.

           

           

           

        4. Ron Oertel

          What you call a “tangent” flies directly into the heart of the argument that you’re trying to present as a legal strategy to attack Measure J.

          How sad it is that you’re trying to do so in the first place.  Not much different than Walter Shwe asking YIMBY Law to “consider” suing the city.

          1. David Greenwald

            I’m not trying to do anything other than explain what is going on.

            All you’ve done in your comment is pontificate on the role of the council, which had nothing to do with my comment to Matt.

        5. Ron Oertel

          Here’s what you said:  Some cities have added a step for voter approval.
          Here’s what I said, in response:  Seems to me that it’s not an “addition”, so much as it is a “replacement” for council approval.

          Do you understand the difference between the word “added” vs. “replaced”?

           

          1. David Greenwald

            This isn’t that important a point, but again not what I was talking about. Why do you keep coming back to this?

        6. Matt Williams

          David, there already is a process for handling annexations, and it is administered by LaFCO.  The whole annexation process is a “constraint” if you use Legal Services’ argument.  Further, the annexation process includes a provision for citizen votes, as we all know from theSMUD annexation process, in which all voters in Davis and all voters in Sacramento got to vote on whether to approve the annexation or not.  The results of that election were a textbook “constraint.”  The elected officials  in both jurisdictions wanted the annexation to proceed, and the voters in Davis said “yes” but the voters in Sacramento said “no” Sotheby’s annexation never happened.

  2. Ron Oertel

    The enactment of rent control would absolutely and completely mitigate this particular complaint (e.g., a current resident who is fearful of being priced-out of their existing apartment).

  3. Jim Frame

     I’m taking the opposite position that the courts will rule for Lisnic and take out Measure J.

    I’m not about to rule that out as an eventual outcome, I just don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.

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