Kennedy Commission v. City of Huntington BeachAnnotate this Case
Defendants-appellants the City of Huntington Beach and the City Council of Huntington Beach (collectively, City) appealed mandamus relief to plaintiffs-respondents The Kennedy Commission, William Adams and Jason Puloe (collectively, Kennedy) invalidating City’s amendment to the Beach Edinger Corridors Specific Plan (BECSP). Kennedy filed a complaint alleging in the first cause of action that the amended BECSP was inconsistent with the housing element in violation of California’s Housing Element Law (Gov. Code) sections 65454, 65580, 65583, 65587 and 65860. Kennedy argued that the amended BECSP was void as it was not consistent with the housing element in the general plan, and therefore the amendment should have been invalidated. City responded that it was amending its housing element and was seeking approval from the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). The trial court applied section 65454, which required a specific plan be consistent with the general plan, and declared the amended BECSP was void. The Court of Appeal granted City’s petition for writ of supersedeas staying the writ of mandate. City argued: (1) for the first time on appeal, the City of Huntington Beach was a charter city, making it exempt from a consistency requirement of its specific plans to the general plan pursuant to section 65700; (2) if City was subject to the consistency requirement, the trial court erred by invalidating the entire BECSP amendment because it contained provisions that did not refer to housing; (3) the trial court’s judgment and writ are overbroad and overreaching and therefore violated constitutional separation of powers; (4) the issues are not ripe for adjudication because Kennedy cannot show harm; and (5) Kennedy has no standing to bring a claim under section 65454. The Court of Appeal concluded Kennedy’s attempts to show City adopted the consistency requirement in section 65454 failed. Even if the exemption applied, the remedy would not be that the amended BECSP was void. Rather, according to section 65750, City should have been granted time to amend its housing element. “As noted, City had already submitted an amended housing element to the HCD for approval prior to the trial court’s decision in this case. Moreover, the trial court ruled that it would not grant relief on Kennedy’s claim that City must implement the housing element in its current state. It was without dispute that City was working with the HCD to have the housing element comply with state law. City was free to amend its housing element to comply with state law while leaving the amended BECSP in place.” The Court of Appeal reversed the superior court’s grant of a writ of mandate and remanded this matter for further proceedings.