This week, CaRLA and Sonja Trauss agreed to part ways. Sonja played a central role in co-founding and establishing CaRLA as the leading pro-housing legal advocate in California. Her hard work and dedication helped build CaRLA into what it is today. CaRLA remains committed to our mission of restoring a legal environment in which California builds housing equal to its needs. Sonja is leaving to establish a new organization that will better fit her vision for a YIMBY advocacy non-profit. We at CaRLA are excited to see what this new organization can accomplish, and value Sonja’s continued leadership in the YIMBY movement. There is no shortage of work to go around; we welcome another entrant to the cause of fighting to solve this state’s housing shortage.
CaRLA will continue forward with Dylan Casey as the Executive Director and President, and Victoria Fierce as Director of Operations and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to becoming our Executive Director, Dylan worked on all aspects of CaRLA’s operations and legal advocacy. Dylan has spent his entire career in housing development and land use law, including many years as an attorney for the City of New York working on citywide zoning changes, and individual development approvals adding up to tens of thousands of units of new housing. His work in city government and in local politics has given him an understanding of how to effectively fight poor decisions made by local governments. Victoria has been with CaRLA for several years, managing and fundraising for CaRLA, and previously served as co-Executive Director with Sonja. Victoria is also a powerful organizer of California’s housing advocates; she founded and continues to lead East Bay For Everyone.
Given CaRLA’s success in enforcing housing law across the state, CaRLA as an organization, including its board, is making decisions that will empower CaRLA to more effectively ramp up the number of legal cases that it brings, and expand into other areas of housing law where we haven’t litigated before. As part of this growth phase, the board has decided that it would elevate an attorney to lead the organization going forward, especially as it brings on board more skilled professionals in the legal and planning fields. In addition to our current lawsuits in San Mateo, Sonoma, Calabasas, San Francisco and other cities, we have plans to enforce housing laws in many other cities across California. Our public impact litigation work to enforce the Housing Accountability Act and Accessory Dwelling Unit laws has been and will remain a core part of our work to fight for a better housing future in California. As we have done in this and prior years, we will also continue to turn the lessons learned in our suits into the development of new state laws that will help alleviate the state’s housing shortage.
We’re thankful to the thousands of Californians who support our work, and we’re excited for this change and for all of our new neighbors to carry us far into the future. CaRLA’s new structure will help us expand our legal advocacy to better ensure that the promises of state housing law materialize in new housing throughout California. We believe that housing is a human right, and we will continue to utilize every tool at our disposal to secure it for all.