The California Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right of city and county governments to pass legislation compelling developers to include a certain number of affordable housing units in every new home development. The ruling was a response to a legal challenge of an ordinance that has yet to take effect in San Jose, though more than 170 local government agencies have similar legislation in effect, including Marin County and San Francisco. Builders had argued that this type of legislation amounts to government confiscation of property, claiming that affordable housing rules are only valid in cases where a development leads to a shortage of affordable housing. The court rejected the claim, saying that affordable housing rules are every bit as legal as rules governing housing size or density in a given community.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo lauded Monday’s ruling, saying it has “ vindicated San Jose’s bold decision to become the largest city in the nation with an inclusionary housing policy, and it couldn’t have come at a time of greater need.” Attorneys representing the California Building Industry Association, meanwhile, said the ruling will hurt efforts to ease housing shortages because the penalties for insufficient affordable units will deter developers from breaking ground on some developments. The builder group’s lawyers are currently wighing their options, including an eventual appeal to the US Supreme Court.