Build More Homes or Else ... Get Fined?

July 17, 2019

In a move to address the housing shortage, some California cities may start to face some stiff penalties if they don’t start building more homes. Under a new bill, California cities could face fines up to $600,000 per month if they don’t build more homes for their residents.

A court can find a city or county in violation of state laws that set targets for how much housing a community needs to build to meet its population needs.

If found in violation, local governments would have a year to comply before the fine kicks in. Following six months of fines, the court could even take over a local government’s authority over its housing plans, according to the bill.

California has increasingly become the epicenter for the national housing shortage. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have pledged to create a $1 billion fund to reward communities for “pro-housing” local laws that are aimed at ramping up construction.

“If cities aren’t interested in doing their part, if they’re going to thumb their nose at the state and not fulfill their obligations under the law, they need to be held accountable,” Newsom said at a recent news conference.

In January, California lawmakers sued Huntington Beach and accused Orange County of not doing enough to add housing for low-income residents. Newsom has threatened to sue other cities.

However, some officials are concerned about California’s latest movement in punishing cities that fall short of meeting housing goals. “We find new penalties on local governments already struggling to add housing and address homelessness concerning,” Graham Knaus, executive director of the California State Association of Counties, said in a statement. “Nonetheless, California’s 58 counties stand ready and committed to meet this challenge.”