Senator Wiener’s Statement on Huntington Beach Suing to Overturn the Housing Streamlining Law He Authored, SB 35
San Francisco — Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) issued the following statement after the City of Huntington Beach sued the State of California, seeking to overturn as unconstitutional Senate Bill 35, a law Senator Wiener authored in 2017 to streamline and accelerate housing approvals in cities not meeting their housing goals:
“Huntington Beach’s lawsuit — which refers to California’s “alleged housing shortage and high cost of housing” — reflects a deeply misguided view of California’s housing mess, and what we need to do so that people can actually afford to live here. We’re in an extreme housing crisis, with a 3.5 million home shortage. California’s housing deficit is so large that it’s equal to the housing deficit of the other 49 states *combined*. Our housing shortage is badly damaging our state: putting housing out of reach for most people; driving families into poverty and homelessness; leading to displacement and evictions; forcing people into crushing commutes that impact their families and increase carbon emissions; forcing working families and young people to leave the state entirely; exacerbating racial and income segregation; and preventing kids from being able to live where they grew up.
“Simply put: We need to stop burying our heads in the sand and recognize that if we don’t do things differently around housing, we face a bleak future — one in which the lucky few have housing they can afford while everyone else struggles. Huntington Beach’s dismissive approach to housing — claiming there is no problem and that the state should just mind its own business — is Exhibit A for why we have a crisis in this state.
“I authored SB 35 to help reduce and ultimately end California’s severe housing shortage, and to date, SB 35 has led to quick approval of nearly 5,000 units of new housing, most of which are affordable to lower income residents. SB 35 is an important tool to ensure that *all* communities are meeting their housing goals and are part of the solution. Huntington Beach claims that the State of California, in passing SB 35, violated the California Constitution by infringing on Huntington Beach’s local control over land use. Local control isn’t biblical. Local control is a good thing when it delivers good results. California’s system of extreme and almost total local control over housing hasn’t delivered good results. Indeed, it has played a key role in exploding housing costs. When it comes to housing, California needs to strike a different balance between State and local authority — with the State setting clear and enforceable standards. Housing is absolutely an issue of statewide concern — our housing shortage is threatening California’s environment, economy, and diversity — and the State has an obligation to address the issue.
“It’s not surprising, that Huntington Beach is the city that filed this lawsuit. Huntington Beach has a long history of ignoring its housing obligations, including its decision to eliminate thousands of units of potential new housing through severe down-zoning. Indeed, just last week, the State sued Huntington Beach for blowing off its housing obligations. This is not the first time Huntington Beach has sought to avoid complying with State law — this is the same city that sued the State to invalidate SB 54, which protects our hardworking immigrant communities. Huntington Beach is part of California and must follow California law. Perhaps Huntington Beach should focus on actually allowing enough housing for all of its residents, instead of baseless lawsuits.”
The lawsuit is City of Huntington Beach v. State of California, Orange County Superior Court, Case №30–201–01044945-CU-WM-CJC
About SB 35:
Senator Wiener’s SB 35 streamlines and accelerates approval of housing in cities that fall short of their housing goals under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). Cities that are streamlined must issue permits for housing without hearings, appeals, or other discretionary processes. Permits must be issued within 3–6 months of the development application. Cities are prohibited from rejecting the projects, forcing them to be smaller, or subjecting them to endless appeals and hearings. Since SB 35 went into effect last year, it has led to the approval of thousands of units of new housing, most of which are affordable to lower income residents.