Partial Success in Challenge to Exclusionary Zoning in Napa County—Court of Appeal Orders County to Grant Density Bonus to Inclusionary Housing

July 11, 2013–In a suit brought by low income farmworkers in Napa County, the Court of Appeal reversed in part the trial court judgment and held that the state Density Bonus Law requires the County to grant a density bonus to developers of affordable units under the County’s inclusionary zoning ordinance. Now residential developers will be more likely to include affordable housing in their developments rather than opting for alternatives. The case is Latinos Unidos del Valle de Napa Y Solano v. County of Napa co-counseled by PILP, California Rural Legal Assistance and Relman, Dane & Colfax.

After the state Department of Housing and Community Development found that the County’s housing element failed to make available adequate sites for the County’s need for affordable housing Latinos Unidos del Valle de Napa Y Solano, an organization of farmworkers active in Napa County and Solano County, filed suit attacking the validity of the housing element, the County’s density bonus ordinance and the discrimination against affordable housing and minorities caused by the County’s exclusionary zoning laws. Although the Court of Appeals declined to reverse the trial court’s rejection of the housing and fair housing claims, it did not publish those parts of the decision, so they will have no precedent on other courts.

The Court of Appeal nevertheless warned the County that its opinion “should not be read as an endorsement of the county’s plan to encourage the development of affordable housing…Should the county renew its housing element with the knowledge that there is no realistic possibility that it will result in actual development of affordable housing…such an action might well provide evidence of proscribed discrimination.” For more information contact Michael Rawson or Craig Castellanet.

Latinos Unidos Del Valle De Napa Y Solano v. County of Napa, 217 Cal. App. 4th 1160 (2013)

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