California Attorney General Rob Bonta followed through on a threat Thursday, filing legal action against Huntington Beach over that city’s efforts to block state affordable housing laws.

“No one gets to pick and choose the laws they want to follow,” Bonta said during a virtual news conference to announce a lawsuit and motion for a preliminary injunction. “We provided plenty of ways for Huntington Beach to get into compliance. They ignored it.”

On Tuesday, Huntington Beach’s City Council voted 4-3 to block the so-called “builder’s remedy” law, which allows developers to construct housing projects without city approval in any municipality that does not have a housing plan as long as 20% of the new units are affordable.

In February, Huntington Beach, a city with a median home price of $845,500, also passed a ban on new accessory dwelling unit (ADU) applications, a legal process created by the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act.

“These laws are in place to address our critical housing needs (and) give more families the ability to help themselves while helping our state combat a serious housing shortage,” Bonta said.

Huntington Beach Mayor Tony Strickland scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. Thursday to defend the city’s position.

“We have a checks and balances system in this country. When we believe the state is overstepping their bounds, we have an avenue and that avenue is the courts,” Strickland said at Tuesday’s council meeting, calling the housing laws a “war on suburbia.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who joined Bonta and representatives from California’s Department of Housing and Community Development in the virtual news conference, said the issue boils down to affordability.

California sues Huntington Beach
Governor Gavin Newsom joined Attorney General Rob Bonta and representatives from California’s Department of Housing and Community Development in a virtual news conference announcing legal action against Huntington Beach. March 9, 2023.

“At the end of the day, the state’s vision as it relates to housing cannot be realized anywhere else except locally,” Newsom said. “Huntington Beach is one of the most spectacular parts of this state and this country. It’s a beautiful community. Incredible people who are not being well-served by the city council.”

Newsom said the state is committed to building 2.5 million homes by 2030 with 1 million of them affordable to low-income residents.