Regional Housing Plan Approval Process Prompts Lawsuit by Four SANDAG Member Cities
For the first time in the history of the San Diego Association of Governments, four of its member cities are suing the agency for its inequitable use of a weighted vote favoring larger cities at the expense of smaller communities.
Coronado, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove and Solana Beach have filed a legal challenge to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment adopted by SANDAG on July 10, 2020. Together, the cities will argue that SANDAG failed and disenfranchised San Diego County residents by employing a weighted vote over the objections of a supermajority of its board.
Over the last year, the four cities tried to correct the wrongs through the process at SANDAG, appealing SANDAG’s allocation which disproportionately affected small cities in the region. The majority of SANDAG’s voting members agreed with the four cities. With an unprecedented vote, however, five jurisdictions outvoted 13 jurisdictions. Having exhausted their remedies at SANDAG, the cities now have no option other than to seek the intervention of an unbiased neutral court.
The Regional Housing Needs Assessment is intended to equitably distribute state-assigned housing needs, including affordable housing, among all jurisdictions within the SANDAG region. SANDAG, and all other Metropolitan Planning Organizations in the state, are charged with working cooperatively within their respective regions to distribute the assigned housing allocation. The state legislation governing this process requires the cooperative participation of all local jurisdictions.
In violation of these goals and consistent with other recent instances of a broken system, SANDAG, with the vote of only five members, denied the appeals of the cities of Coronado, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove and Solana Beach. Through reliance on an unfair weighted voting system instead of a more equitable “one-jurisdiction, one-vote” method, five members of the 19-member association of governments that make up SANDAG were able to advance a Regional Housing Needs Assessment plan that is both unrealistic and punitive to smaller jurisdictions throughout the County. Purporting to act as SANDAG, these jurisdictions adopted a housing allocation that failed to address fundamental concerns raised during the lengthy administrative process. The flawed methodology that was adopted resulted in the four appellant cities being assigned between 258 percent and 1,800 percent increases from prior housing allocation cycles.
The cities of Coronado, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove and Solana Beach absolutely support regional cooperation, fairness and equity, and legitimate efforts to expand the housing stock in San Diego County.