On September 15, 2022 RBGG filed suit against Santa Clara County on behalf of California Renters Legal Advocacy & Education Fund (CaRLA) and Kenneth Shotts, alleging that the County violated the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 when it downzoned a residential neighborhood immediately adjacent to Stanford University. The County enacted the downzoning ordinance in May 2022 to appease Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) opposition to new housing in the Upper San Juan neighborhood, an affluent residential area featuring large single-family homes on large lots. The Housing Crisis Act preempts municipal regulations that “reduc[e] the intensity of land use” in residential areas below what was permitted under the municipality’s rules as of January 1, 2018. In this case, the County imposed new, highly restrictive rules relating to the configuration of residential lots that will make it far more difficult—if not impossible—to increase the number of housing units in the Upper San Juan neighborhood. The County must do its part to address California’s severe housing shortage, and downzonings like this one are squarely at odds with the County’s obligations under state law.
RBGG’s Lisa Ells and Alex Gourse represent both CaRLA and Kenneth Shotts in this matter. CaRLA is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to increase the affordability and accessibility of housing in California by using legal advocacy and education to ensure that cities comply with state housing law. Kenneth Shotts is the David S. and Ann M. Barlow Professor of Political Economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.
Stanford’s most exclusive neighborhood becomes legal battleground over housing, Mercury News, October 2, 2022