A lawsuit filed by YIMBY Action argues the state has underestimated the amount of housing the Bay Area needs to produce by as much as 138,000 units. (Shutterstock)

A lawsuit filed by YIMBY Action argues the state has underestimated the amount of housing the Bay Area needs to produce by as much as 138,000 units. (Shutterstock)

Housing advocates challenge state’s calculation of Bay Area housing needs

San Francisco housing advocacy group YIMBY Action filed a lawsuit Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court asserting that the calculations the state used in projecting Bay Area housing needs for the next decade are flawed.

The mistake “severely” underestimates the number of needed housing units, plaintiffs allege, and will interfere with local efforts to create zoning and land use plans that will accommodate sufficient units to meet the real need.

“If we win this lawsuit,” Ryan J. Patterson, counsel for plaintiffs said, “it could mean 138,000 additional homes for the Bay Area. People wouldn’t have to commute from Modesto to San Francisco just to have affordable housing. Greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced. Californians would have more opportunities for jobs and more time to spend with their families.”

According to the plaintiffs’ filing, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is required by state law to prepare an estimate of regional housing needs for the period from June 30, 2021 through 2030, taking into account a variety of specific housing and related information.

If additional housing units are needed according to HDC’s estimate, the needed units are then allocated among the cities and towns within the region. Those local governments are then required to modify their land use plans to make sure that their allocation of the needed units can be accommodated.

According to the plaintiffs, California law requires HDC to take into account information concerning “the relationship between jobs and housing, including any imbalance” within the region.

Plaintiffs allege that HDC failed to do so, thereby underestimating needed housing in the Bay Area over the projection period by between 86,000 to 138,000 units.

State law law requires consideration of an imbalance between jobs and housing, plaintiffs allege, because if there are more jobs than affordable housing, workers are forced to live further away from their jobs. Their commuting then produces more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

Plaintiffs say the phenomena of workers living distantly from their work is referred to in the real estate industry as “drive till they qualify,” in reference to “what a growing number of Californians have to do to find housing they can afford.”

Sonja Trauss, executive director of YIMBY, said that the organization had meetings with HDC before filing the suit, but HDC’s representatives said “we feel confident that we followed the law” and would not agree to change the calculation.

She added, “they told us sort of different things. One thing was that they didn’t really know how to do the job. They didn’t really have an idea for a methodology.”

According to Trauss, this isn’t the first time HDC failed to include the information. “They were supposed to have done it last cycle, 8 or 10 years ago, …and they just didn’t.”

Plaintiffs’ filing says that they do not seek an injunction against the allocation of the housing units covered by the allegedly flawed determination, but rather an order requiring HDC to supplement its prior determination to take into account the information it failed to utilize.

Bay Area NewsHousing and Homelessnesssan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A parent guides their young child on a training bicycle along JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park near the de Young Museum and the Music Concourse on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over future of JFK Drive heats up

Shamann Walton compares accessibilty issues to segregation, likens street closure to ‘1950s South’

Supervisor Catherine Stefani is moving forward with legislation to ban "ghost guns" in San Francisco  (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner file photo)
Supervisor wants SF to be first in California to ban ‘ghost gun’ kits

Police are finding more untraceable firearms on the streets as shootings rise

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City College union deal staves off layoffs, class cuts

One year agreement allows community college time to improve its finances

San Francisco Giants pitcher Logan Webb (62) faced down the Rangers Tuesday in a two-game sweep by the giants. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Webb posts career-high 10 strikeouts as Giants finish sweep of Rangers

The Texas Rangers arrived in San Francisco with one of the hottest… Continue reading

A Homeless Outreach Team member speaks with homeless people along Jones Street in the Tenderloin on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Breed proposes another street outreach team to divert calls away from police

San Francisco would launch a new street outreach team to respond to… Continue reading

Most Read