In the news | LA judge imposes permit moratorium in Beverly Hills until it complies with state housing mandate

City of Beverly Hills, City Hall

As some affluent cities in California have sought ways to avoid accommodating more affordable housing within their jurisdictions, a judge in Los Angeles has taken one of the more drastic steps to date to force compliance with state-mandated housing requirements.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Jan. 18 that “Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin blocked the city from issuing all building permits except for new residential development as a penalty for Beverly Hills’ failure to approve a sufficient blueprint for affordable housing.”

For the current period, Beverly Hills was told it had to add 3,104 homes, with three-quarters of them affordable to low- and middle-income residents. (In the previous Housing Element cycle, Beverly Hills only had to add a total of three, according to the report.)

(By contrast, Piedmont’s state-determined allotment is 587 new residences. Piedmont’s Sixth Cycle Housing Element was deemed by the state to have achieved “substantial compliance” with state law at the end of the last year.)

The city’s strategy has been to try to continue to wall off its existing residential neighborhoods — those with the mega-mansions and apartments buildings alike — and instead concentrate growth in commercial areas through mixed-use development

The plan hasn’t worked. The state has rejected five blueprints from Beverly Hills since summer 2021, most recently in December. California housing department officials said the city is overestimating how many of its commercial properties could add residential development and criticized the plan on fair housing grounds for not allowing more affordable housing in the city’s whiter and more affluent areas.

As Beverly Hills was fighting with the state, Californians for Homeownership, a nonprofit funded by the California Assn. of Realtors, sued the city last January, asking a judge to compel officials to pass a compliant housing plan. Kin agreed that Beverly Hills’ blueprint was deficient, citing similar issues as the state.

The judge noted that Beverly Hills is counting on medical office buildings and car dealerships to convert to housing, despite the city’s own concession that it’s unlikely to happen. In its plan, for instance, the city says an Audi dealership on Wilshire Boulevard that was just renovated could turn into 41 apartments.

In Beverly Hills, no kitchen remodels or pool grottoes as judge orders building moratorium over lack of affordable housing, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 18

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