California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund

California's Housing Watchdogs

Latest News

Celebrating One Hell of a Ride at the CaRLA 2021 Gala

On Friday, December 17, 2021, we were lucky enough to host our first gala since the onset of the pandemic. We loved seeing so many familiar faces (some behind masks, but) all beyond the screen! Thank you to all of our vaccinated attendees, and for those who didn't...

CaRLA Announces the End of the Year Departure of Victoria Fierce

CaRLA is both happy and sad to announce the end of the year departure of our Director of Operations Victoria Fierce. As a three-person nonprofit, CaRLA is a close knit team and Victoria’s departure at the end of December brings both sadness at the loss of a colleague...

Victory Alert – Huntington Beach

CaRLA is happy to announce another fresh victory in a string of significant rulings in favor of housing. If you haven’t been following the Huntington Beach saga, it is finally coming to an end, and the series finale has a surprising conclusion. We were very unhappy...

CaRLA Announces Precedent-Setting Victory in San Mateo Appeal

Oakland, CA — The California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA)  is pleased to announce a precedent-setting victory in the fight for more housing and a more equitable California. In a much anticipated decision released Friday afternoon, the California...

CaRLA Disappointed in Huntington Beach Housing Lawsuit Ruling

We are simultaneously disappointed in and surprised by a trial judge’s ruling last week to deny 48 units of desperately needed and zoning-compliant housing in Huntington Beach on the grounds that the project is not protected by the Housing Accountability Act. This...

A Guide to Ending Single Family Zoning: Lessons Learned from 39 Years of ADU Legislation

A Guide to Ending Single-Family Zoning Lessons from 39 Years of ADU LegislationCalifornians don’t have time to deal with the housing shortage and high housing costs linked to the prevalence of single-family zoning. If single-family properties are going to be a source...

CaRLA Grows with Greg Magofña and Luis Villa

CaRLA is excited to announce that, much like California, our team is growing with the addition of Greg Magofña and Luis Villa. Greg Magofña, Director of Development and Outreach Greg Magofña joins us as our new Director of Development and Outreach to bring his wealth...

We’ve filed our appeal brief against San Mateo

In 2017, the state legislature passed SB167 to strengthen the Housing Accountability Act. The changes it brought were profoundly boring: it simply required cities to follow their own zoning laws instead of making them up on the spot at every project hearing. If you've...

Sue the Suburban Lifestyle Dream

The soon-to-be-former President, in his failed attempt to appeal to voters this election, unsurprisingly decided to take a stand against fair housing. In an effort to “save the suburban lifestyle dream,” Trump repealed Obama era regulations designed to give teeth to...

Los Altos concedes defeat. Housing won.

Today, we’re pleased to announce that Los Altos has conceded defeat in our lawsuit against them for an unlawful denial of affordable housing under Senate Bill 35’s streamlined approval provisions. The city tried announcing this late Saturday night in the middle of the...

CaRLA’s 2021 Gala 

Come party with CaRLA! We’re excited to announce an in-person Gala as we celebrate our success this year. The event will be on December 17, starting at 6 pm at Line 51 Brewing Company in Oakland.

🚨 Victory Alert (Updated) 🚨

CaRLA Announces Precedent-Setting Victory in San Mateo Appeal and a Reversal in Its Huntington Beach Suit

“Our housing crisis is an existential threat to our state’s future, and we can’t shy from the hard fights it’ll take to create more affordable homes for Californians — including pursuing legal challenges to make sure the housing laws we pass in Sacramento translate to real, new units in local communities across our state.”

– Governor Gavin Newsom on CaRLA vs San Mateo


“Our fight for affordable housing is inextricably tied to our fights for racial, economic, environmental, and social justice. This appellate decision upholding the constitutionality of the Housing Accountability Act is a major victory for all Californians.”

– Attorney General Rob Bonta on CaRLA vs San Mateo

We carry a big stick, and we aren’t afraid to use it.

Homes Defended since 2019

Resolved Requests for Help since 2019

Northern California Resolved Requests

Southern California Resolved Requests

Recent Victories

  • San Mateo

    10 Units

    Filed Apr 2018, Appealed w Attorney General Taking on Case Jan 2020

  • Huntington Beach

    47 units, 5 BMR

    Filed Jun 2020

The housing shortage is not an unintended policy outcome.

California’s housing shortage is strangling its residents and businesses. Every type of person and business is affected by this crisis.

Our shortage results from this unique legal and political culture of California, cultivated over decades of organizing and enacting local policies that have created successive barriers to meeting the housing needs of our growing population.

The only way to universally and permanently solve this shortage in the long run is to build more housing.

What is at stake?

Low income people, who have always had a hard time finding safe and affordable housing, are living in the streets, in their cars, or in overcrowded conditions.

At all income levels people are commuting longer than they want to, living in less space than they want to, and are even putting off having families due to these inhospitable living situations.

Housing is a human right, but California missed the memo.

Who do we help?

Legal expenses are a major contributor to the high costs of housing development; CaRLA seeks to combat this through free legal aid to homebuilders. Byzantine regulations create high barriers to entry in the field, leaving the development of housing only to those who can afford expensive lawyers and consultants.

We particularly seek to support small projects – encompassing 3 to 10 units – whose development teams do not have the legal budget to appeal local rulings.

How do we do it?

Legal Aid

Homebuilders rely on project approvals for revenue and are unlikely to go on the offensive against malicious jurisdictions. Developers prefer to negotiate with cities rather than pursue relief in court. These negotiations are unnecessary when a housing project is protected by the HAA; yet, many developers do not understand their rights and lack an independent advocate.

CaRLA provides free legal aid to these homebuilders. You have rights. We will help you secure them.

Enforcing Housing Law

There is no statewide enforcement agency responsible for housing law.

CaRLA pursues legal action where developers have not, bringing suit against cities that fail to approve compliant housing. In doing so, we seek to change the political and legal norm of the Housing Accountability Act and other laws sitting on the books, unenforced.

We rely on our statewide network of on-the-ground housing organizers to keep informed of housing law violations. We will build this network through development of workshops, forums, and other educational resources targeted at housing organizers statewide.


CaRLA can’t be everywhere at once. We must carefully consider what we focus on.

That doesn’t mean that housing law should go unenforced elsewhere in the state. CaRLA is curating a publicly available research library with information on housing law.

Our library includes sample court petitions, briefs, legal opinions, and other materials that enable other organizations and individuals to secure their own rights under the HAA and other laws.