LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (KABC) -- La Cañada Flintridge's denial of a mixed-use residential and retail complex has sparked a lawsuit from the state of California which is accusing the city of breaking laws designed to provide more affordable housing.
The denied project was planned to be built at 600 Foothill Boulevard, the current site of a temporary Christmas Tree lot and where a Christian Science Reading Room once operated.
The project would create retail space as well as 80 residential units, 16 of which would be considered affordable housing.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development, Governor Gavin Newsom and State Attorney General Rob Bonta have filed a legal request for the courts to force La Cañada Flintridge to allow the project to be built.
The case centers around the city's lack of a state compliant "housing element," which is essentially a municipality's plan spelling out where it expects to provide new housing at various income levels.
California argues that La Cañada Flintridge failed to have a state compliant housing element in place between October 16, 2021 and November 17, 2023 when the project's application was being considered.
Housing officials say in cases like that, California law requires the city to process the project under the Housing Accountability Act's (HAA) so-called "builder's remedy."
Under the builder's remedy, a local government may not deny for inconsistency with zoning or land use designation, a housing project that includes at least 20% low-income units or 100% moderate-income units.
"Since California strengthened its housing laws, cities have attempted, unsuccessfully, to skirt these rules," said Governor Gavin Newsom. "La Cañada Flintridge is another community making excuses rather than building their fair share of housing. La Cañada Flintridge will learn, as other communities have, that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and ultimately, they will be held accountable."
Eyewitness News reached out to La Cañada Flintridge city officials for comment on the case but did not receive a response.
"We're where we are because La Cañada-Flintridge has really dug in its heels," said David Zisser, Assistant Deputy Director of California HCD. "Cities can't pick and choose what rules apply to them."