The City of Monte Sereno is facing a legal challenge to its housing policy, that lawyers say fails to comply with state mandates. The exclusive Silicon Valley suburb has allegedly falsified documents and used other diversionary tactics to feign compliance with multi-family and moderate-income housing.
“The City’s actions and its unwillingness to provide its ‘fair share of housing’ unduly constrains housing opportunities,” said Michael Durkee, the attorney representing the petitioners in Hacienda Realty LLP v. City of Monte Sereno et al.
Drawing upon an audit that examined 12 years worth of housing records over the last nine-months, the petitioners cite substantial irregularities between actual housing units produced and units reported to the state. That audit was provided to the city council, and the members were asked to perform their own, independent audit. That request was denied. Only one member of the council voted for the audit.
The lone dissenter, councilmember Lana Malloy, reportedly called the mayor and insisted that the data be reviewed.
The suit brought against Monte Soreno is the most recent of several filings involving cities in the greater Bay Area and compliance with state housing requirements. The City of Pleasanton was sued over its failure to comply with the housing laws, and was forced to take immediate corrective action. The city also had to pay millions of dollars in attorneys’ fees.
This suit alleges that the City had over reported its housing production to both the State and the Association of Bay area Governments. Those reports cited housing units that do not exist, undocumented units claimed “affordable.”
The lawsuit seeks a writ of mandate directing the City to: fulfill its mandatory duties identified in its Housing Element Programs including annexation of certain parcels, amendments to the City’s General Plan and Zoning to provide for multi-family housing; revise the City’s Housing Element to make it legally adequate, set aside two recent City Council actions that perpetuate the City’s noncompliance with its mandatory duties to provide housing; and pay monetary damages for violating substantive due process rights through the City’s arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable actions.
“It is unfortunate litigation is required to force a city to provide adequate housing in its own community,” said Durkee.