Attorney General Bonta Urges Court to Facilitate Affordable Housing in Eureka

Special to the Vanguard

Oakland, CA – AG Rob Bonta filed an amicus brief supporting the City of Eureka in a lawsuit challenging an amendment to its housing element, which would provide affordable, climate-friendly housing to an area experiencing a severe housing shortage. The housing element amendment identified nine city-owned sites for housing development in and around downtown. Housing in this area would place residents near their jobs, services, and retail, and allow residents to access public transportation.

A local opposition group, Citizens for a Better Eureka, sued the City under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), arguing that an addendum to the environmental impact report failed to analyze traffic impacts, and that providing affordable housing on these sites would replace City parking lots and result in congestion in the downtown area. However, Eureka concluded that the plan for housing would contribute to an overall decrease in vehicle miles traveled – thus reducing harmful emissions – and impacts to intersection levels of service would be similar to the original housing element. In three other separate actions, Citizens for a Better Eureka has challenged the City’s efforts to provide housing.

“I proudly support Eureka in opposing this cynical effort to hamper development projects that benefit low-income residents; I will not stand for it,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The housing crisis and climate crisis are among the largest, most urgent issues facing California and we need to act swiftly and fiercely. Eureka is doing exactly this and has my steadfast support.”

State law requires local governments to include housing elements in their general plans, which serve as a “blueprint” for how the city and/or county will grow and develop. A housing element must include, among other things, an assessment of housing needs, an inventory of resources and constraints relevant to meeting those needs, and a program to implement the policies, goals, and objectives of the housing element. Once the housing element is adopted, it is implemented through zoning ordinances and other actions that put its objectives into effect. The housing element is a crucial tool for building housing for moderate-, low-, and very low-income Californians and redressing historical redlining and disinvestment.

Eureka’s housing element implements the goals and purposes of state housing laws, and the Department of Housing and Community Development certified it as complying with the Housing Element Law. In challenging the City’s housing element, the petitioner, Citizens for a Better Eureka, attempts to obstruct the development of future housing.

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1 Comment

  1. Walter Shwe

    The obstructionist bullies in Eureka are weaponizing the CEQA for their own highly selfish purposes. I urge the court that hears this case to quickly rule in favor of the defendant (City of Eureka) and against this misnamed group. The court needs to make an example out of this completely frivolous lawsuit and send a clear message that the CEQA can’t be weaponized by other obstructionist bullies. This is just one example of how obstructionist bullies around California have abused the CEQA for highly selfish motivations. Here is what one actual environmental group had to say about this matter.

    Environmental advocates are also skeptical about the motives behind these lawsuits.

    This is yet another example of Rob Arkley’s abuse of our environmental laws,” said Colin Fiske, executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities (CRTP).

    “The removal of some public parking spaces does not count as an environmental impact, no matter how much those parking spaces are beloved by Mr. Arkley,” Fiske continued. “We hope the courts will quickly dismiss these frivolous lawsuits. If they are allowed to proceed, they could delay or even stop the construction of the affordable, climate-friendly housing Eureka so desperately needs. Furthermore, there are nearly $70 million in state investments in Eureka’s downtown that are potentially at risk due to Arkley’s recent lawsuits and his cynical, misleading ballot initiative. These latest suits are more evidence of his reckless disregard for downtown businesses, residents and the environment.

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