California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the city of Elk Grove for its refusal last year to approve a housing project that would have provided affordable housing in the Old Town area of the city.
Bonta's Office filed a complaint Friday at the Sacramento County Superior Court stating that the Elk Grove City Council had violated the spirit of the laws passed recently to encourage housing production when it voted against Oak Rose Apartments last July, a permanent supportive housing project consisting of 67 units.
The suit claims that "as a consequence of the City's refusal of the Project, People will suffer irreparable damage to their interests." California has a housing crisis due to the failure of local governments to allow new housing opportunities. This is what led to the City's refusal.
Representatives of the city did not respond immediately to a Monday request for comments on the lawsuit. The city had previously claimed that its vote against the proposal was legal.
Bonta claims in his lawsuit that the city rejected the project at 9252 Elk Grove Boulevard because it used subjective criteria rather than objective ones.
The city stated that ground-level units were not in compliance with the city's Old Town planning criteria and standards. The suit claims that Senate Bill 35 - intended to streamline the production of affordable housing - does not allow this subjective standard.
The suit claims that "Because of the Use Restriction’s application depends ultimately on the subjective judgement of a public officer, the Use Restriction does not meet the requirements of SB 35 and the City has violated SB 35 by applying the Use Restriction for the Project."
The lawsuit also claims that Elk Grove failed to inform Excelerate Housing Group, a developer from Long Beach, about the potential problem with use in a timely fashion. The lawsuit claims that by rejecting this project but approving another nearby market-rate project with similar features, Elk Grove discriminated against affordable housing.
The lawsuit asks that the court overturn the Elk Grove City Council's decision to allow Oak Rose to proceed, and for city officials take steps to prevent similar fates from befalling future projects.
After the Oak Rose vote, Excelerate Housing Group brought a suit against Elk Grove. This suit is still ongoing.
Both state housing officials and Bonta warned Elk Grove, after the vote, to either resolve the situation in Excelerate’s favor or risk a legal challenge.
In an email, Dana Trujillo, CEO of Excelerate, said: "With regards to the Attorney General’s letter released today we welcome any actions or support that the state can provide to allow us to build housing permanent and support unhoused residents in Elk Grove, and throughout California,"