San Bernardino Reaches Agreement with State on Housing

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By the Vanguard

Sacramento, CA – The city of San Bernardino under threat of litigation from the state, agreed to update their housing plan to meet their state-mandated goals, which include 8,123 additional housing units by 2029.

The state has been aggressively working to hold communities accountable for local housing needs.

“It is vital for local governments to implement policies that increase needed housing in California,” Governor Newsom said.

On Tuesday, the state and city, along with individual residents represented by the Public Interest Law Project and Inland Counties Legal Services, requested the San Bernardino County Superior Court enter their settlement agreement as a Court-ordered legal judgment.

Under the settlement, the City of San Bernardino will:

  • Adopt an expedited compliant housing plan known as a housing element no later than February 7, 2024.
  • Modernize the City’s zoning code by April 17, 2024.
  • Amend the City’s emergency shelter ordinance to conform with state law, which requires streamlining the permitting process for the construction of new homeless shelters.
  • Amend its local density bonus ordinance to conform with state law. State law requires local governments to permit increased density for housing projects that contain affordable dwelling units.
  • Be subject to escalating penalties for failure to comply with the terms of the settlement, including limitations on its ability to approve zoning changes and variances, and eventually its ability to permit any development, except for residential projects containing affordable housing.

“Cities that fail to follow the law and plan for their fair share of housing will be held accountable – the status quo will not be tolerated,” Governor Newsom warned. “The state is providing incentives, resources and when necessary, taking legal action to ensure that communities do their part to meet the housing needs of Californians.”

“Our state’s Housing Element Law is in place to ensure that all cities build their fair share of housing. No city is spared from that legal obligation. It is not a choice. It is the law,” said Attorney General Bonta.

He added, “I applaud the City of San Bernardino’s city council, and its planning and legal team, for recognizing that public resources should be directed at collaborating, rather than further litigating, our way out of California’s housing crisis. State leaders are united and committed to ensuring that every city provides more affordable housing options.”

“Many essential workers – retail clerks, hospitality, workers, teachers, firefighters, and social service providers – are having a hard time renting homes in the communities where they work,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez.

Ramirez added,  “The lack of housing exacerbates residential segregation and impacts economic well-being. This is why it’s absolutely important that local jurisdictions including San Bernardino plan for and build more housing. The Governor has made it clear that failing to do so violates state law and prevents communities from thriving.”

“Our message is clear – every city and county will be held accountable to state housing laws,” said California Department of Housing & Community Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The state is making financial resources, technical assistance, and state-owned land available to help cities and counties meet current and future housing needs. We will continue to work in partnership with the City of San Bernardino to ensure they meet all the terms agreed to in this settlement. Ultimately, we want to spend time building homes – not in court.”

“This settlement agreement is a major victory for the residents of San Bernardino. San Bernardino has been in desperate need of new affordable housing for many years,” said Inland Counties Legal Services attorney Anthony Kim. “Housing Element law is designed to make building affordable housing more attractive to both City planners and housing developers alike. Submitting a Housing Element that complies with California law puts San Bernardino on track to be a more attractive place to live for all residents of California.”

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6 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    It’s impossible to determine exactly what the circumstances were or are from these type of press release articles.

    However, San Bernadino does not strike me as a city that “resists sprawl”.

    It’s also an “inland” city, where folks from the Los Angeles area migrate to in search of cheap housing.

    The state has lost all credibility regarding regarding environmental / climate change concerns in light of their efforts to encourage such migration.

    Ultimately, cities are not going to be able to fight the state on their own.  They have to band-together.  (Look for the wealthier locales along the coast to actually challenge the state’s control.)

    Then again, the housing downturn is already sufficient to derail the state’s plans – regardless of what’s on “paper”.

  2. Tim Keller

    “Many essential workers – retail clerks, hospitality, workers, teachers, firefighters, and social service providers – are having a hard time renting homes in the communities where they work,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez.

    This is the thing that really irks me….    We have this exact same problem here in davis:  local workers, university staff and students are priced out of the market…   And a lot of davis voters echo these exact same concerns re: our workforce.

    BUT… the housing proposed on our docket, the single family developments, IF they go through and “save us” from having the state come after us like they are doing for San Bernadino.. that housing is ALSO not going to be affordable for these local workers…   It will be a) expensive and b) largely sold to regional commuters..  So unless we change HOW we build, none of our current front-line options actually help that much.

    1. David Greenwald

      It might be helpful to lay out a matrix of how many units, how many will be large affordable and how many are aimed at the missing middle. My sense without laying it out is that there is a sizable middle component, but until it’s laid out it’s harder to judge.

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