Superior Court Judge Overturns City of Folsom’s Repeal of Affordable Housing Program

(Sacramento, CA) – In a July 19, 2012 decision, Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley granted the Sacramento Housing Alliance’s petition challenging the City of Folsom’s elimination of its affordable housing program.

In 2011, Folsom ended its Inclusionary Housing Program, one of the City’s primary tools for facilitating the development of affordable homes for working families. The elimination of the program violated the City’s housing plan in which it estimated the development of 405 affordable units by 2013. The adoption of the program was the result of an earlier housing element lawsuit against the City in 2001. At that time Folsom had not produced affordable homes in over 9 years.

The Court stated very clearly that the City of Folsom cannot eliminate a key portion of its Housing Element that is responsible for meeting 44% of the City’s affordable housing goals. Planning documents and policies are not to be ignored. The Court stated:

The City argues that it had legitimate reasons for discontinuing the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance… The City misses the point.

The zoning consistency requirement requires local governments to maintain consistency with their general plans. The City cannot simply ignore provisions in its general plan because they are inconvenient or get in the way of other City goals. If this were the case, the requirements of the General Plan would not be enforceable and the zoning consistency requirement would be illusory.

Folsom has a large retail workforce with limited housing options near jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary of a retail sales worker is $20,990. An employee at one of Folsom’s retail stores has to work more than 80 hours a week to afford fair market rent without paying more than 30% of monthly income on rent and utilities.

“This is an important victory for the entire region,” said Tyrone Buckley, SHA’s Housing and Environmental Justice Policy Director. “Working families should have the option of living near where they work. It’s really that simple.”

Sacramento Housing Alliance was represented by Legal Services of Northern California, The Public Interest Law Project, and Western Center on Law and Poverty.

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