Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta Announce a Lawsuit Against the City of Elk Grove for Violating State Fair Housing Laws

  • The city has denied the development of a 66 unit affordable housing project
  • The project, known as Oak Rose Apartments, would provide permanent supportive housing for individuals and families who previously experienced homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness
  • The actions taken by the state are part of an ongoing multipronged approach to ensure that communities throughout California build their fair share of housing

SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), today, announced the filing of a lawsuit against the City of Elk Grove. The lawsuit is the result of a denial by the city of a proposed project, known as the Oak Rose Apartments, which would add 66 units of supportive housing for lower-income households at risk of homelessness, in a jurisdiction in dire need of low-income housing opportunities. The project would also provide off-site and on-site services to assist residents in maintaining housing, improving their health status, and maximizing their ability to live and work in the community.

Although the city denied the Oak Rose Apartments project, they approved a similarly situated, market-rate housing development located within the same neighborhood known as the Old Town Special Planning Area (OTSPA).

“Communities that fail to build their fair share of housing, including those refusing to develop desperately needed affordable housing, will be held to account,” said Governor Newsom. “Under my Administration, the state has provided unprecedented support, including billions in funding and resources to help guide communities as they work to meet their housing needs.  However, when local governments repeatedly fail to uphold their obligations and blatantly look for ways to skirt state law, we will use every tool available, including legal actions to ensure that Californians have access to needed housing.”

The lawsuit filed today alleges the city’s denial of the project violates state laws including Senate Bill 35 (SB 35), the Housing Accountability Act (HAA), and fair housing laws intended to prohibit discriminatory land use practices, including the Nondiscrimination in Land Use Law and the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing statute (AFFH).

“Our state is in a housing crisis and local governments must do their part to allow for affordable housing options for all members of our communities, regardless of their income level,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Everyone deserves to have a place to call home. California has critically important laws designed to combat housing discrimination and increase affordable housing opportunities. Today’s lawsuit against Elk Grove sends a strong message to local governments: if you violate fair housing laws, we will hold you to account.”

Today’s lawsuit alleges that the Elk Grove City Council improperly denied the project, claiming that it did not meet the city’s zoning standards and was therefore ineligible for SB 35 ministerial review. In today’s lawsuit, the state seeks injunctive relief to require Elk Grove to approve the project and realign with state law.

“Building more affordable housing is the most effective tool to reduce and prevent homelessness–but the City of Elk Grove is blatantly usurping fair housing laws and working against solving our housing and homelessness crisis,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “HCD is laser focused on helping all jurisdictions meet their housing goals, but when cities like Elk Grove refuse to do so, we will hold them accountable.”

State leaders stand united in their commitment to enforcing state housing laws and increasing access to affordable housing in California. Governor Newsom launched a Housing Accountability Unit to increase stringent enforcement and oversight at the local level to create more housing, faster across California. Additionally, in 2021, Attorney General Bonta announced the creation of a Housing Strike Force within the California Department of Justice aimed at advancing housing access across the state.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit the California Department of Justice’s Housing Portal and HCD’s website for more resources and information aimed at supporting access to housing.

A copy of the lawsuit is available here.