We enforce housing law.

California state law prevents cities from denying housing proposals that comply with objective zoning standards, general plans and environmental laws. In practice, cities often engage in such behavior anyways because there is no statewide enforcement agency.

The California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA) is the legal advocacy arm of the YIMBY Party. We provide legal aid to sue CA cities ignoring state housing law and hold events to educate the public and policymakers about the causes and effects of the housing shortage.

Legal expenses are a major contributor to the high costs of housing development; CaRLA seeks to combat this through free legal aid to homebuilders. Byzantine regulations create high barriers to entry in the field, leaving the development of housing only to those who can afford expensive lawyers and consultants. We use our expertise to provide assistance to smaller scale builders, helping them to navigate the complex legal process involved in building everything from a backyard ADU or duplex to missing middle and beyond.

In the summer of 2015, we learned that the City of Lafayette intended to approve a housing development of 44 luxury single-family homes, instead of the originally proposed 315 apartments, which would have been affordable to moderate income earners. The California Housing Accountability Act prevents cities and towns from disapproving zoning compliant housing projects, but the law is rarely enforced. Developers prefer to maintain good relationships with city officials, so instead of engaging in expensive, time consuming litigation, they often agree to redesign their projects at lower densities, which result in fewer homes being built. In aggregate, these decisions by localities have caused a housing shortage, which is why housing is so expensive in California.

Unlike most developers, CaRLA is not afraid to sue cities or towns that worsen California’s housing crisis. Read about the Lafayette case here. Read the petition against Lafayette here.

 

For questions, contact Sonja Trauss or Victoria Fierce. If you are seeking legal aid under the Housing Accountability Act or other state housing law, please submit your information below:

CaRLA relies on its statewide network of on-the-ground housing organizers to keep informed of housing law violations. If you suspect a city, county, or other jurisdiction in the state of California may be violating state housing law, we want to hear from you.
 

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Support our work

Enforcing housing law costs money. We thrive on your charitable donations, big and small. CaRLA is a 501(c)3 non-profit, so all of your contributions are tax deductible.