Huntington Beach has been sued by the state over its lack of affordable housing. Courtesy CALmatters

Gov. Gavin Newsom met with a group of Southern California mayors Tuesday to stress the need for cooperation to address the state’s growing housing-affordability crisis.

The meeting was the start of what he described in his State of the State address as “a candid conversation” that he hopes to repeat with other municipal and local leaders across the state. Tuesday’s gathering at Long Beach City College included mayors of cities whose housing plans are considered by the governor’s office to be out of compliance with state law.

“There are 47 communities or jurisdictions that are quote-unquote out of compliance, and I wanted to get a better understanding of why they’re not in compliance with our quote-unquote housing goals,” Newsom said.

“We met with a sample of those communities and we heard honest, forthright explanations as to why it’s difficult and why they need support,” he said. “And my commitment is to provide support.”

Newsom included $250 million in his proposed state budget for cities and counties to update their housing plans and revamp their zoning process and an additional $500 million in grants when they achieve those milestones.

“If we want a California for All, we have to build housing for all,” Newsom said last week in his State of the State address. “I want to support local governments that do what’s right, like Anaheim and Santa Rosa. But there must be accountability for those that don’t.”

The state sued Huntington Beach last month, accusing it of blocking the production of affordable housing.

“I don’t want to sue 47 other cities,” Newsom said Tuesday. “Quite the contrary. I want to work collaboratively with all of the representatives in those communities.”

South El Monte Mayor Gloria Olmos told NBC4, “All of us mayors in there were saying, `Please don’t sue us. Please don’t.’ He’s saying `As long as you set that plan and you are compliant with that plan, we will gladly release that.”‘

Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates said the city has been “complying with all applicable state housing and zoning laws and has been, and will continue to, work with the California Department of Housing and Community Development regarding meeting the city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment.”

Huntington Beach was the first city to be sued because of a statute of limitations, Newsom said in the State of the State address.

“We started this process off aggressively. I’m not naive about that,” Newsom said Tuesday. “We sued the city of Huntington Beach. We did so because they were out of compliance. We as a state have been working with them for some time. They continue to be out of compliance.”

— City News Service

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