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Judge backs affordable-housing group in rejecting changes to Huntington’s Beach and Edinger plan

A judge has ruled in favor of an affordable-housing advocacy group that claimed that changes made to Huntington Beach’s plan for Beach Boulevard and Edinger Avenue made it non-compliant with state housing law.

The amendments to the Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan were aimed at slowing the number of housing developments being approved in that area. However, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant agreed with the concerns of the nonprofit Kennedy Commission during a hearing Nov. 12. He declared the changes void, said Sarah Gregory, an attorney representing the Irvine-based group.

Gregory said the Kennedy Commission has a conference with Chalfant scheduled for Dec. 10 about requiring Huntington Beach to reverse the amendments, which the group contended would render the city unable to meet its state requirements for low-income housing.

“This is an important win for affordable housing in Orange County,” Gregory said. “There’s a huge lack of affordable housing in the county, and every city, under state law, is supposed to make space, accommodate sites that are available for affordable housing.”

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The Kennedy Commission filed its complaint against the city July 31.

City Atty. Michael Gates said his office needs to confer with the City Council to determine what action to take as a result of Chalfant’s ruling.

In May, council members approved changes to the Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan that included reducing the maximum number of residential units allowed, having stricter height limits and setbacks and requiring a conditional use permit for new projects.

The specific plan was adopted in March 2010 as a way to revitalize Beach and Edinger by streamlining the approval process for development projects there.

However, many residents complained this year about the rate at which high-density housing projects were being approved. Many disapproved of the Elan mixed-use project at Beach and Ellis Avenue, which has 274 housing units.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development warned Huntington Beach before the amendments were approved that the changes would make the city’s housing plan non-compliant with state law.

In November 2013, the agency projected that Huntington Beach would need at least 1,353 affordable units citywide from 2014 to 2021. Though the city had addressed its needs for moderate- and above-moderate income housing, it hadn’t addressed a projected need of 533 units for low and very low income households.


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