BY ERIKA CHAVEZ IRVINE WORLD NEWS
City officials have filed suit in an effort to overturn a state mandate requiring Irvine to add 35,660 housing units in the next seven years. To read the lawsuit, go to http://www.irvineworldnews.com .
The mandate, handed down earlier this month by the Southern California Association of Governments, would also require that 21,282 of the new units be deemed “affordable” for moderate, low-income and very low-income households.
Mark Asturias, housing manager for the city of Irvine, said the requirement “burdens Irvine with a mandate that is unfair, unreasonable, unattainable and inequitable.”
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Orange County Superior Court, argues that the housing allocations weren’t distributed in an equitable manner, as required by state law.
The housing projections are part of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, a periodic process meant to ensure that areas throughout the state provide their fair share of housing needs as the population grows.
Irvine has 64,500 housing units built over 35 years; an additional 35,660 units — almost 44 percent of the new homes mandated across Orange County by SCAG — would result in a more than 50 percent increase over the next seven years, Asturias said.
Additionally, he said, while Irvine has remaining open space, most of that is already locked into development agreements and can’t be used to fulfill the latest housing requirements.
The city appealed the allocation but SCAG refused to revise it before adopting a final housing plan on July 12.
While larger cities like Santa Ana, Anaheim and Huntington Beach received much smaller allocations, city officials believe that Irvine was singled out for its continuing growth and existing commitment to building affordable housing.
SCAG’s allocation requirement “has penalized Irvine for its smart growth, strategic planning, community advocacy and longstanding track record of building housing that is accessible to the full range of working families,” read a statement released by the city Thursday.
Irvine’s housing ordinance requires that 15 percent of all new homes be affordable; under SCAG’s projections, about 60 percent of new housing units will have to be affordable.
A spokesman for SCAG said the agency had no comment on the pending litigation.