8041 Ellis Avenue, Huntington Beach
Starting back in 2010, the City of Huntington Beach enacted the Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan which designated the area around the intersection of Beach Boulevard, Ellis Avenue, and Main Street as high-density housing. Huntington Beach would later revise the Specific Plan to half the number of units allowed to be developed, spurring extended litigation over whether the lower density violated Housing Element requirements. Fast forward to 2020 when THDT Investment proposed a modest apartment building at 8041 Ellis Avenue in Huntington Beach, a parcel within this Specific Plan.
The proposed building is directly across the street from a six-story, 274-unit apartment building and compliant with all of the city’s own objective land-use standards for the site, in both the General Plan and the Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan. Nevertheless, the city denied the project. Their reasons are predictable: the building did not “fit”, nor did it maintain consistency with the “spirit” or “vision” of the city’s plans. However, the Housing Accountability Act does not defer to nebulous feelings about “spirit” or “vision”; rather, it plainly states that only the objective, quantifiable zoning standards matter.
THDT Investments appealed to the city with this information who, once again, denied the project. This time it was due to vague safety concerns. Once more, THDT Investments challenged this denial. Once more, Huntington Beach went off the rails. The city’s third denial was based on a pair of reports produced by paid “experts” that claimed the new housing development would render an already deadly intersection even more deadly. At no point did these experts identify any objective written public health and safety standards, nor did they address whether or not there was any way to mitigate the impact.
On June 12, 2020 CaRLA sued to enforce the state’s Housing Accountability Act.
We are thrilled to be represented by Professor Kenneth Stahl in this case, and we will collaborate with the developer and Californians For Homeownership, who are also suing the city to challenge Huntington Beach.
How It’s Going
Surf City, USA is a known offender of state housing law, pandemic restrictions, and other attempts to coexist in civilized society. They have faced litigation from affordable housing developers and the state for failing to comply with their own housing plans after downzoning an entire neighborhood.
Our lawsuit concerns a development proposed in this very area, where the city promised to provide more development sites to comply with their housing goals. In order to provide housing they need to actually approve developments, though, and in this case they failed. The 48 unit housing development which includesd affordable housing was denied by the city because of bogus “health and safety” impacts made up shortly before the vote.
CaRLA filed our lawsuit under the HAA to invalidate the denial. We expect a decision shortly.