We are lead counsel (with the California Affordable Housing Law Project) in an affordable housing suit against the City of Pleasanton. Our clients are Urban Habitat, an environmental justice organization that works in the nine-county Bay Area region, and Sandra De Gregorio, a low-income Latina mother who lives in Pleasanton. This suit seeks to redress the severe shortage of affordable housing in the City that is available to low-income families, like Ms. De Gregorio’s.
Our petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief alleges that the City of Pleasanton has failed to make 30 to 40 acres of land available for high-density residential development as required under its Housing Element; that its 29,000 unit Housing Cap unlawfully conflicts with the City’s obligations under state housing law; and that the City’s housing policies unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, and familial statute, and against low-income housing.
The Court of Appeal issued a published decision reinstating our claims in 2008. That decision, Urban Habitat Program v City of Pleasanton, 164 Cal. App. 4th 1561 (2008), garnered statewide attention.
Following that ruling, on May 1, we filed a supplemental complaint, alleging new facts that arose while the case was pending on appeal. In particular, for the new “planning period,” for which Bay Area cities were required to adopt a new Housing Element by June 30, 2009, Pleasanton was assigned a new regional housing need allocation of 3,277 units of housing. Its housing cap allows it to approve fewer than 3,000, placing it in conflict with state law.
On March 12, 2010, Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled that the City of Pleasanton’s Housing Cap violates state law. In the first ruling of its kind, the court also ordered the city to complete re-zoning that is required by state law so that it can meet its share of the region’s affordable housing. This major victory for affordable housing in California has reverberated around the State.
We agreed on the terms of a global settlement with the City of Pleasanton and the Attorney General in July. The Agreement eliminates the Housing Cap from the city’s General Plan, and includes terms that require the City to (1) rezone three sites near BART for high-density residential use, including at least 130 units affordable to very-low income households; (3) complete a new Housing Element within one year; (2) adopt and implement a non-discrimination resolution to ensure that it will take affirmative steps to support the development of affordable housing for families with children; (4) adopt a Climate Action Plan within 18 months; and (5) pay plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.
Pleasanton Moves Toward Adopting an Affordable Housing Plan
October 17, 2011— In compliance with the terms of the Settlement, the city submitted a draft Housing Element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for its statutory compliance review in August. Plaintiffs submitted comments to HCD on the draft on September 27. While commending the city on its implementation of the Settlement terms over the past year, the letter raised several issues in need of resolution, including questions about the ability of the Hacienda rezonings to accommodate 871 units of lower-income housing that the city had failed to address before 2007; the failure to provide “by right” zoning for additional sites to be rezoned in the coming months; the inadequacy of actions to address the need for non-profit development of housing for families with the lowest incomes; and constraints on housing imposed by the city’s Growth Management Program.
In its compliance review letter dated October 14, HCD found that the draft element was not in compliance with a number of statutory requirements, including those raised in the Plaintiffs’ comment letter.
July 20, 2010— Plaintiffs and the California Attorney General entered into a global settlement of their claims with the City of Pleasanton today. Under the terms of the Settlement, the city will, among other things:
- Rezone three sites near the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station for high-density transit-oriented development, with no less than 15 percent of the units to be affordable to very-low income families;
- Adopt and implement a non-discrimination resolution that prioritizes sites and action programs to promote non-profit affordable housing development for families;
- Adopt a new affordable housing plan (Housing Element);
- Amend its General Plan to remove all references to the unconstitutional Housing Cap; and
- Adopt a Climate Action Plan.
March 12, 2010— In a major affordable housing victory, Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch has ruled that the City of Pleasanton’s Housing Cap violates state law. In the first ruling of its kind, the court also ordered the city to complete re-zoning that is required by state law so that it can meet its share of the region’s affordable housing.