State Reaches Agreement with Malibu on Compliance with State’s Housing Element Law

Photo by Carlos Bastias on Unsplash

Malibu to update housing plan by September 2024 for development of 79 additional housing units

By Vanguard Staff

Sacramento, CA – The state on Wednesday announced a settlement with the city of Malibu that will enable the city to reach compliance with the state’s Housing Element Law.

Malibu will adopt a housing plan by September 23, 2024, to allow for the development of 79 housing units, 47 of which must be affordable to low- and very low-income households.

The agreement, which takes the form of a proposed stipulated judgment and must be approved by the court, and pertains to California’s sixth “housing element update cycle” for the 2021-2029 time period.

Under the state’s Housing Element Law, every city and county in California must periodically update its housing plan to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), or share of the regional and statewide housing needs

Malibu was required to update its housing plan by October 15, 2021 to accommodate its 79-unit RHNA target. The city submitted a Housing Element Update in 2022, but was not found to substantially comply. After receiving a notice of violation from the state, the city and state conferred in good faith to chart a course for the city to attain compliance.

“Our housing laws are not optional; they apply to all cities and counties in California. Today’s settlement with the City of Malibu underscores that basic principle,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “We are facing a housing crisis of epic proportions. When local jurisdictions like Malibu do their part and allow more homes to be constructed, all Californians benefit. My office will continue working closely with HCD to make sure that every single city and county comes into compliance and plans for the future.”

“To communities large and small, affluent, or otherwise – everyone must build their fair share of housing,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Rather than further delay action through litigation, Malibu has decided to work with the state to plan for the development of more housing.”

“Malibu is a community that holds both tremendous need for affordable housing, and tremendous opportunity. This agreement provides an enforceable contract to ensure those housing needs are met,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “We are very appreciative to the City of Malibu for working with us to create this path to compliance with state housing law, and my team will provide every resource to help them be successful in that effort.”

“We understand the importance of adhering to the State’s housing element law and are dedicated to fulfilling our obligations,” said Steve Uhring, Mayor of Malibu. “Despite the challenges we’ve encountered, such as the devastation of the Woolsey Fire and the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and staff turnover, our partnership with HCD has been pivotal in guiding us toward a resolution. This settlement reflects the shared goal of the City and State of California to address housing needs effectively in our community.”

Among other things, a compliant housing element must include 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 and facilitate the construction of new homes for Californians at all income levels.

Under the settlement:

  • Malibu will take several required actions to adopt a compliant housing element by September 23, 2024. The housing element process is typically lengthy — for example, local governments must meet certain public participation requirements and HCD must review every local government’s housing element to determine whether it complies with state law and provides written findings back to each local government — but Malibu has agreed to an expedited timeline and ensuring the public’s participation.
  • Malibu acknowledges that, until it has adopted a substantially compliant housing element, it may not deny certain low-, very low-, and moderate-income housing development projects based on the city’s current, outdated general plan and zoning code. This is known as the Builder’s Remedy.
  • Malibu could be subject to monetary penalties if it remains noncompliant 12 months after the effective date of the stipulated judgment.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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