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C.A.R. nonprofit prevails in SB 9 decision in Woodside

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For release:
February 7, 202
2  

REALTOR® housing group and California attorney general successfully pressure Town of Woodside to withdraw mountain lion habitat claim

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 7) – Californians for Homeownership, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.), today praised a decision by the Town of Woodside to begin accepting applications to build housing under SB 9. Two weeks ago, Town staff announced a moratorium on all SB 9 projects after declaring the entire town a protected habitat for mountain lions. The town’s decision to reverse course follows a closed session meeting of the Town Council to discuss the risk of a lawsuit by the nonprofit, which aims to address California’s housing crisis through impact litigation.

“SB 9 was carefully crafted to allow the development of additional housing in California’s residential neighborhoods while balancing other important interests, such as environmental protection, earning it our support in the Legislature," said C.A.R. President Otto Catrina. “When local governments abuse these protections, it exacerbates the housing crisis and risks making it harder to ensure that these important protections are included in future housing bills.”

The Town of Woodside’s plan to declare itself a protected habitat became public last week, sparking widespread condemnation among housing advocates. “As soon as we heard about the town’s plan, we reached out to the Town Attorney to request a meeting in advance of a potential lawsuit,” said Matthew Gelfand, Californians for Homeownership’s in-house litigator. 

The Town Council scheduled a closed session meeting for the evening of February 6 to discuss the risk of a lawsuit by the organization. Shortly before the meeting on Sunday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta wrote to the town to also demand that the town abandon its plan.  After meeting, the Town Council released a press release rescinding the town’s prior policy and directing town staff to immediately begin accepting SB 9 applications. 

“We always try to resolve our disputes with cities and towns without resorting to litigation, and we are glad that was able to happen in Woodside,” Gelfand said.

SB 9 is a critical new tool to address California’s affordable housing crisis by allowing additional units to be developed in existing residential neighborhoods. The law contains significant protections for sensitive properties, including wildlife habitats, fire areas, and tenant-occupied homes, as well as limits on development by non-occupying homeowners, such as large investors.

Californians for Homeownership has worked throughout California to enforce state housing laws, including the state’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) laws and the Housing Accountability Act. The organization recently defeated the City of Huntington Beach in a lawsuit over the illegal rejection of a 48-unit condominium project by that City. It is actively monitoring local permitting under SB 9, with a focus on moratoriums or prohibitions on SB 9 projects, such as Woodside’s.

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Californians for Homeownership is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization sponsored by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® devoted to using legal tools to address California's housing crisis. For too long, California's cities have treated compliance with state and federal housing law as optional. The organization seeks to change that attitude by proactively enforcing the law, on behalf of the important public interest in having additional housing available to families at all income levels. Californians for Homeownership was established by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.), and it receives financial support from C.A.R. and private donors. To make a tax-deductible charitable contribution today, visit caforhomes.org.

 


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