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West Hollywood scores legal win on housing fee

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The U.S. Supreme Court Oct. 30 declined to hear a case challenging the city’s inclusionary housing fee, letting stand a decision by the California Court of Appeal in favor of the city.

The city’s inclusionary housing policy requires 20 percent of new residential multi-unit projects to be set aside for households earning lower or moderate incomes. In certain cases, developers can pay a fee in-lieu of providing the affordable units.

The city policy complies with state laws requiring cities and counties to promote the creation of more affordable housing.

“The city of West Hollywood is pleased that the California Court of Appeal’s ruling in favor of the inclusionary housing fee will stand,” Mayor John Heilman said. “Affordable housing is vital and West Hollywood is committed to its progressive housing policies.”

The Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal in the case 616 Croft Ave., LLC v. the city of West Hollywood. In the case, the plaintiffs challenged a required inclusionary housing policy fee to support the creation of affordable housing by the city as a condition of receiving a permit to build an 11-unit condominium building.

Under California’s Density Bonus Law, property developers may be compensated for supporting city and state goals for affordable housing by receiving a density bonus allowing them to exceed the total number of housing units normally allowed on a property, which in turn allows the developer to build a few more market-rate units. In certain instances, developers may choose voluntarily if they would rather pay the in-lieu fee to support the creation of more affordable housing, instead of providing units.

California is experiencing an affordable-housing crisis. In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed more than a dozen bills from the state Legislature aimed at addressing the crisis.

The city has long been a champion of rent stabilization programs that promote a strong residential community. The city currently has affordability restrictions on 322 affordable units in market-rate buildings, and an additional 114 units have been approved and are being built or are anticipated to be built within the next two years.

The city’s rent stabilization and housing division provides information and counseling services to both tenants and owners of residential rental properties, which includes in-house counseling services and written materials. The city also facilitates the development of new housing, the rehabilitation of existing buildings, and the development of mixed-use projects with a housing component.

 

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