The State of California is actively trying to fix the housing crisis by forcing cities to make plans for more housing under AB-72, legislation passed back in 2017.
The state has compiled a list of cities whose housing plans are out of compliance and Pismo Beach is on that list.
“So this is new territory and the first time this particular legislation has been tested,” said John Fowler, President of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.
Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis says it’s not that easy to make these plans in coastal communities.
“I think each city is different and unique. We have coastal challenges as does Huntington Beach. We’re a built-out city, we’ve had other challenges, and so some cities can update their housing element easier than us,” Lewis explained.
Huntington Beach now faces a lawsuit from the state for not submitting its plans.
“The state has decided to take a more aggressive approach of oversight as far as the cities and counties are concerned. So this AB-72, which allows the state to come in and look at housing elements and housing production, actually has some teeth in it to move the cities and counties along,” Fowler said.
While only one Central Coast city is on the list for being out of compliance, according to the state, only three Central Coast cities – Paso Robles, Carpinteria and Solvang – are actually putting their housing plans into motion.
“So you look at this and say out of 539 cities and counties in California, only 24 are actually following their plan at this point. So while you and I are talking about submitting the plan, the housing element for approval, out of 537 districts they’re not even following their plan and following the rules of their own plan that has been put forth and approved by the state of California,” Fowler explained.
The City of Pismo Beach says it’s “aggressively” working on its housing plan but having trouble finding contractors willing to make homes for people that live in the community as opposed to building luxury homes for people out of the area.
“That continues to be the issue in California. There’s a lot of finger-pointing as far as whose issue is it. I know in our community while we’re delayed on our housing elements and we have a path for June 2019 completion, we need partners that want to build these types of projects,” Lewis said.
Lewis has correspondence with the state showing that they have an extension to submit their plans in June. Those plans, as of right now, identify areas where they could build more than 200 units.
It’s unclear at this time what the repercussions for Huntington Beach will be if they lose the lawsuit.
The state is offering funds for cities to be able to build more affordable housing. Pismo Beach says it was given $3.5 million for this goal.