Kiana Buss is CSAC’s Legislative Analyst for Housing, Land Use and Transportation. For more, visit The County Voice.

AB 602, a bill by Assembly Member Mike Feuer, would extend the statute of limitations for challenges to a housing element, ordinance, or program to five-years.

CSAC has serious concerns with this measure and is calling on every county to request the Governor veto the measure.

Why is this measure is such a threat to local governments and the development of housing for all Californians? I’ve created our top ten list, ala David Letterman, on why CSAC is opposed and a veto is vital.

Why the Governor should veto AB 602, let me count thy reasons:

  1. A five-year statute of limitations is longer than any other period provided for challenges to land use decisions – even CEQA. CSAC, the League of California Cities, and the American Planning Association, California Chapter offered a reasonable compromise to extend the limitation to two-years but this fair solution was rejected.
  2. The lateness in which the bill was amended and moved the end of the legislative session, not leaving nearly enough time to consider the policy problem and develop a workable solution all parties could live with.
  3. The twenty-one counties (and the cities within those counties) outside of SB 375 that will remain on an endless five-year housing element cycle and subject to potential litigation in perpetuity.
  4. The extended statute of limitations should apply to the housing element only, not to specific ordinances such as growth limitations and the adoption of density bonuses. The proponents argue that due to the regional nature of planning for housing there should be a longer limitation, and we agree. However, specific policies and programs are not regional in nature and therefore the extension should not apply to these ordinances.
  5. SB 375 already provides for a number of additional new remedies to allow challenges to the adoption and implementation of the housing element, e.g. a special sixty-day resolution process to ensure that zoning is done on time.
  6. Over the past decade, the Legislature has added substantial new mandates to housing element and affordable housing law. Many of these new requirements are still being implemented and local agencies need time to sort through these new mandates before becoming subject to additional litigation.
  7. As a result of the historic downturn in the economy, planning departments across the state have significantly reduced staff.  Increasing mandates coupled with less staff and diminishing financial resources leaves cities and counties even more vulnerable to lawsuits. Further, defending these lawsuits takes precious time and money away from the real goal – planning for housing!
  8. The compromise struck with the author/sponsor and the Building Industry Association does not provide for the intended results.
  9. It creates uncertainty for development approvals at a time when development is critical to getting out of this economic recession.
  10. The California Housing and Community Development Department is reconvening the successful Housing Element Working Group to discuss timely issues and concerns with the housing element and affordable housing. This is the forum to discuss this issue so that all stakeholders have sufficient time to consider the issue and develop a meaningful consensus based solution.

For all the reasons stated above, CSAC implores the Governor to veto AB 602, and for individual counties to weight in on the issue as well.

For more, visit The County Voice, a place where CSAC, county officials and stakeholders can voice their thoughts on governance and issues that impact California’s 58 counties