Pro-Housing Nonprofits Prevail in Lawsuit, Cupertino Stipulates to Builder’s Remedy

Special to the Vanguard

San Francisco, CA— YIMBY Law and the California Housing Defense Fund have won a stipulated judgment against the City of Cupertino for the city’s late housing element. In a victory for housing, Cupertino has agreed to honor a state-law “builder’s remedy” for affordable housing projects that filed applications with the City after it failed to revise its housing element in time for last winter’s deadline. The judgment took effect with court approval this week.

“Cupertino recognizes it must plan for housing,” noted Sonja Trauss, Executive Director at YIMBY Law. “The City missed its legal deadline, and that has consequences. Fortunately, the consequences of today’s settlement will be more housing.”

The settlement commits Cupertino to revise its housing plan in accordance with the state’s Housing Element Law. This law requires cities to audit their own zoning ordinances, and other land-use restrictions, to prove that a certain number of homes can be legally built in the next eight-year cycle. Cupertino’s state-set target for the 2023–2031 cycle is 4,588 new homes, including 1,880 that would be affordable for lower-income households.

California law requires each city to update a general-plan component called a “housing element” every eight years. Bay Area cities, including Cupertino, were required to revise their housing elements by January 31, 2023. Eleven months later, almost half of Bay Area cities are still out of compliance.

The state agency tasked with reviewing housing elements, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), determined on December 15 that Cupertino’s latest draft housing element requires further revisions to comply with the law.

“We’re confident that Cupertino can bring its housing element into compliance,” said Dylan Casey, Executive Director of the California Housing Defense Fund. “The builder’s remedy should help create some affordable housing in the short term while the City works to come up with a viable long-term plan.”

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