DAVID GRABILL, #46758
1930 Alderbrook Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Voice: (707) 528 6839
Facsimile: (707) 528 6811
NEIL M. HERRING, #38584
503 Sandretto Drive
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Voice: (707) 823 9418
Facsimile: (707) 823 3406
MICHAEL RAWSON, #95868
CALIFORNIA AFFORDABLE HOUSING
LAW PROJECT of the PUBLIC INTEREST LAW PROJECT
449 15th Street, Suite 301
Oakland, CA 94612
Voice: (510) 891 9794
Facsimile: (510) 891-9727
Attorneys for Plaintiffs/Petitioners
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF SONOMA
SONOMA COUNTY HOUSING ADVOCACY GROUP, an Unincorporated Association, JOHN WITTWER,
SAPORINO GALVAN, and CHRISTINA GALVAN,
Petitioners and Plaintiffs,
CITY OF SANTA ROSA, a governmental entity; JEFF KOLIN, in his official capacity as
City Manager of the City of Santa Rosa, WAYNE GOLDBERG, in his official capacity as
Director of the Community Development Department of the City of Santa Rosa, and DOES
Respondents and Defendants.
COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE AND DECLARATORY RELIEF, AND PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE
1) Writ of Mandate - Housing Element
2) Writ of Mandate - Zoning Code
3) Housing Discrimination
4) Writ of Mandate - Gov. Code §65008
5) Declaratory / Injunctive Relief
6) Taxpayer Action - C.C.P. §526(a)
(Unlimited Civil Action)
1. There is a low-income housing crisis in the City of Santa Rosa ("the City"), and
other cities in Sonoma County. The problem of finding decent housing is particularly
acute for very low income persons with mental and physical disabilities; for
farmworkers employed by neighboring vineyards; for seniors, and for low-income
families with children. In Santa Rosa and other Sonoma County communities, thousands
of such individuals and families are unable to pay the high rents demanded by landlords
for decent housing, and are forced to live in overcrowded, dilapidated apartments,
in their cars, in homeless shelters, along the creeks, or wherever they can find space.
Still others are forced to commute long distances back and forth to their jobs in
Santa Rosa because there is no affordable housing available nearby. The City's
housing and development policies have not only failed to meet this low-income housing
crisis, but have, in many ways, exacerbated the crisis.
2. This is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief, and a petition for a
writ of mandate, against the City of Santa Rosa brought by the SONOMA COUNTY HOUSING
ADVOCACY GROUP (hereafter "H.A.G."), and various individual plaintiffs /
petitioners. They bring this action in support of the development of housing which
meets the requirements for housing for persons and families with low or moderate
incomes as set forth in Government Code §65915, and with respect to actions taken
pursuant to Government Code §65580 et seq. and §65913.
3. The State of California's Planning and Zoning Law, at Government Code §65300 et
seq., requires all cities and counties to adopt a comprehensive, long-term "general
plan" for physical development of land within the governmental entity's jurisdiction.
This general plan governs the use of land within the city or county, and is the
"constitution" of land use planning. Lesher Communications, Inc. v. City of Walnut
Creek (1990) 52 Cal.3d 553. The general plan has seven mandatory elements, one of
which is a "housing element."
4. The first and principal cause of action alleges the failure of the City of Santa
Rosa to adopt and implement a "housing element" as part of its general plan which
actually and substantially complies with applicable state housing laws. Government
Code §65588(b)(2) requires the City to have formulated and adopted an updated housing
element which conforms to the requirements of state law no later than December 31,
2001. In June, 2002, the Santa Rosa City Council adopted a revised housing element
which failed to provide adequate sites for lower income housing, and which failed
to comply with legal requirements for housing for persons with special needs including
farmworkers, persons with disabilities and others. Thus, nine months after the
state-mandated deadline, the City has not brought the housing element of its general
plan into compliance. 5. The City has approved the construction of
thousands of units of moderate and above-moderate income housing in recent years,
but very few of these have been affordable to lower income households. In the year
2000, the City issued building permits for construction of about 1100 units of
housing. Over 90% of these units were only affordable to above-moderate income
households. Less than 10% (fewer than 80) were affordable to moderate income
households, and less than 5% were affordable to lower income households - the 40%
of the City's population earning less than 80% of the County median income.
6. The City is required by Government Code §65583(c) to make adequate provision for
the housing needs of all economic segments of the community, especially lower-income
households, over the time span of its housing element. The housing element must
provide a program for the City to accommodate its "fair share" of the regional need
for affordable housing as determined by the Association of Bay Area Governments
("ABAG")(see Gov. Code §65583(a)(1), (c)(1) and §65584). The housing element which
it adopted in June, 2002 was defective in that it failed to identify adequate sites
which could be used to meet the City's ABAG-determined share of regional housing
needs, and failed to comply with state law in other ways as set forth below..
7. The June, 2002 housing element, which was adopted and submitted to the California
Department of Housing and Community Development ("HCD") pursuant to Gov. Code
§65585(h), also failed to set out an inventory of land suitable for residential
development, along with an analysis of the zoning and public facilities for this land
as required by Gov. Code § 65583(a)(3).
8. In large part because of the inadequacy of the City's land inventory, the housing
element fails to identify adequate, appropriately zoned sites, with public services
and facilities, which are available for the development of a variety of housing types
for low- and very-low-income households, including multifamily rental housing,
factory-built housing, mobile homes, emergency shelters, transitional housing, and
housing for farmworkers. (Gov. Code § 65583(c)(1)).
9. In order to provide for the existing and projected needs of lower-income
households, the City is required by law to undertake as part of its housing element
an examination of governmental and non-governmental constraints on the
implementation of state housing goals, and to develop plans to remove or mitigate
the effect of those constraints. (See Government Code §§65580, 65581, and 65583(a)
and (c).) The City has failed to do this.
10. State law also mandates that local governments zone sufficient vacant land in
order to meet the housing needs identified in the housing element of the general plan
and to achieve the required maximum effort to provide affordable housing
opportunities for all relevant household income levels. The City's current zoning
ordinance fails to do so. Instead, it creates substantial, unlawful and
discriminatory barriers to low-cost housing, and is the basis for the plaintiffs'
Second Cause of Action.
11. HCD reviewed the City's June, 2002 housing element pursuant to Gov. Code §65585,
and found it to be substantially out of compliance with the requirements of state
law. The City was officially notified by HCD of these findings by letter dated
October 2, 2002. 1.
1. The City's failure to adopt an adequate and consistent housing element, its
failure to designate and zone vacant land at sufficient densities and with appropriate
development standards, and its failure to remove constraints to development have an
adverse impact on the availability of affordable housing for low- and very-low-income
persons and households, on racial and ethnic minorities, families with children,
seniors, disabled persons and female-headed households. The City's planning, land
use and zoning policies have had, and continue to have, a discriminatory effect on
these groups in violation of state and federal law, as set forth in Plaintiff's Third
and Fourth Causes of Action below.
2. Plaintiff/petitioner SONOMA COUNTY HOUSING ADVOCACY GROUP ("HAG.") is an
unincorporated, voluntary association which advocates for construction and
preservation of affordable housing and shelters for lower income families and
individuals throughout the County of Sonoma and its incorporated cities, and for
housing for persons with special needs including persons with disabilities, seniors,
and farmworkers. H.A.G. was founded in 1997 by Arnold Sternberg and others. Its
principal office is located in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. The principal
officers of the association include Stephen Harper, Lucy Forest, Debbie Swanson,
Duane DeWitt, Paul Carroll, Dick Latimer and Ann Zimmer. The unincorporated
association includes officers and members residing in the City of Santa Rosa.
3. Plaintiff/petitioner JOHN WITTWER is a disabled veteran who resides in Santa
Rosa, California. He has been staying in homeless shelters, homeless encampments and
in his vehicle for years because he has not been able to locate housing which he can
afford to rent in Santa Rosa. His search is made much more difficult by reason of
disabilities which limit his housing choices. He has been cited repeatedly by Santa
Rosa police for criminal violations of the Santa Rosa Municipal Code Section 11-22.030
which prohibits sleeping in public areas or in vehicles. Mr. Wittwer constitutes
a "lower income household" within the meaning of H. & S. Code §§50079.5 and/or a "very
low income household" within the meaning of H. & S. Code §50105.
4. Plaintiff/petitioners SAPORINO GALVAN and CHRISTINA GALVAN live with their
children in a rental apartment in Rohnert Park, California. Until recently, the family
lived in Santa Rosa in substandard housing. After complaining about conditions in
their apartment, they were forced to move by their landlord. The family was not able
to locate housing which they could afford to rent in Santa Rosa, and had to move
temporarily to Rohnert Park. They are continuing to look for a decent, safe apartment
in Santa Rosa which they can afford to rent. The GALVAN household is a "lower income
household" within the meaning of H. & S. Code §§50079.5 and/or a "very low income
household" within the meaning of H. & S. Code §50105.
5. Plaintiffs/petitioners are beneficially interested in the enforcement of public
duties violated in the manner alleged herein. Specifically, they have been injured
by the City's refusal to adopt and implement an adequate housing element and a legally
sufficient zoning code, which results in their continued inability to find decent
and affordable housing in the City.
6. The individual plaintiffs/petitioners bring this action individually, and as
taxpayers of the County of Sonoma and City of Santa Rosa. Each of the
individually-named plaintiffs, as well as officers of the plaintiff H.A.G., have paid
taxes to the City of Santa Rosa in the 12 months preceding the filing of this action.
7. Members and representatives of the plaintiff H.A.G. have submitted written
comments and appeared at public hearings of the City Council of the City of Santa
Rosa to testify as to the requirements of state law in regard to low- and very
low-income housing, to raise objections to the legal inadequacy of the current housing
element of the City.
8. Plaintiffs/petitioners have fulfilled any and all conditions precedent to filing
this action and have exhausted any and all available administrative remedies. They
have a direct and substantial beneficial interest in insuring that the
defendants/respondents comply with laws relating to the housing element of the Sonoma
County General Plan.
9. Defendant/respondent CITY OF SANTA ROSA is a governmental corporation organized
and existing under the laws of the State of California. Its City Council is the
legislative body charged, by Government Code §65300, with responsibility for adopting
a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the City.
10. The Defendant JEFF KOLIN is the City Manager of the City of Santa Rosa, and is
responsible for the operation of the City government under the overall direction of
the City Council. He is sued herein in his official capacity.
11. The Defendant WAYNE GOLDBERG is the Director of the Community Development
Department of the City of Santa Rosa. He is responsible for the formulation of
housing and community development policies for the City, including the formulation
and administration of the City's General Plan, including the Housing Element of the
General Plan, and its zoning ordinance. He is sued herein in his official capacity.
12. Plaintiffs/petitioners are ignorant of the true names and capacities of the
persons or entities named herein as Does 1 through 20, but are informed and believe,
and on that basis allege, that each of such defendants/respondents is legally required
to act in the manner herein sought. Plaintiffs/petitioners will seek leave to amend
this complaint when said defendants'/respondents' true names and capacities have been
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
Writ of Mandate -- Housing Element
13. Plaintiffs/petitioners incorporate by reference herein each and every allegation
of paragraphs 1 through 23, inclusive, above.
14. Under Government Code §65300, the City of Santa Rosa and every other California
city and county must prepare and adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for
the physical development of the City. Under Government Code §65302(c), that plan
must include a housing element which meets the requirements of Government Code §§65580
15. The City was required by law to formulate and submit to the California Department
of Housing and Community Development ["HCD"] a revised housing element complying with
state law under Gov. Code §65588(b)(2). The housing element which the City adopted
in June, 2002 and submitted to HCD fails to meet the minimum requirements of state
law for housing elements. Inter alia, the adopted element:
a) fails to "make adequate provision for the existing and projected [housing] needs
of all economic segments of the community;" [Gov. Code §65583]
b) fails to accommodate its share of the regional need for low-income
housing units as determined by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) (Gov.
c) fails to identify and inventory adequate sites economically and/or physically
suitable for the construction of very-low- and low-income housing. [Gov. Code
§65583(a)(3) and (c)(1)] The limited number of sites which are identified in the
element are neither adequate to address the need for low- and moderate-income housing,
nor are they economically and physically suitable for such housing. In effect, the
element identifies almost no sites for future construction of affordable housing in
the City other than those previously approved for such construction;
d) fails to include a program of actions to assist in the development of housing to
meet the housing needs of low income households; [Gov. Code §65583(c)(2)]
e) fails to identify or acknowledge actual and potential governmental and
non-governmental constraints, including lack of adequate infrastructure for housing,
restrictions on siting lower income housing and housing for persons with special
needs, extended delays in processing applications for development approval, and other
constraints on the development of affordable housing in the City, and to set forth
a program for mitigating or eliminating these constraints; [Gov. Code §65583(a)(4)
and (5), and (c)(3)];
f) fails to set forth with sufficient specificity various programs in the element
-- including but not limited to the proposed annexation of additional sites to the
City at some future date - so that the effects of implementing those proposals on
the City's future housing stock can be determined -- rendering them inadequate to
identify sites or assist in the development of housing;
g) fails to analyze or address the area's urgent need for seasonal and year-round
farmworker housing, and fails to adequately analyze and quantify the City's share
of this need, or to identify sites where the City will address this need as required
by Gov. Code §65583(c)(1);
h) fails to adequately analyze and quantify the City's share of the area's need for
emergency shelters and transition housing for homeless people, or to address how the
City's share of that need will be met;
i) fails to adequately identify sufficient emergency homeless shelter and
transitional housing sites, and/or to adequately identify emergency shelter and
transitional housing sites that will be made available, as required by Government
j) fails to identify or address the need for housing for large households in the
City, or to address how the City's share of that need will be met;
k) fails to adequately describe the amount and use of moneys in the City Redevelopment
Agency's low and moderate income housing funds, including a description of the planned
expenditures of these funds during the planning period of the housing element as
required by Gov. Code §65583(c);
l) fails to adequately analyze and address the current and future housing needs of
students at the Santa Rosa Junior College, a group with special housing needs in the
City (SRJC administration plans to close the student dormitory housing many students
with disabilities in December, 2002).
16. In formulating and adopting the element which the City adopted and submitted
to HCD in July, 2000, the City failed to make a "diligent effort to achieve public
participation of all economic segments of the community" as required by Gov. C.
17. While operating without a lawful housing element, the City of Santa Rosa has
approved and continues to approve residential and commercial developments and issue
building permits, thereby reducing the amount of land available for construction of
housing affordable to low- and very low-income families, and aggravating the severe
shortage of affordable housing in the City.
18. The continuing failure of the defendants to perform their mandatory duties as
set forth herein constitutes an unreasonable, arbitrary and prejudicial abuse of
discretion. Unless compelled by this court to take action, the defendants will
continue to disregard and violate their obligations under state housing laws.
19. Plaintiffs/petitioners have no plain, speedy, or adequate remedy, other than
the relief here sought. Government Code §65587 requires that any action to review
the conformity of a housing element with state law be brought pursuant to §1085 of
the Code of Civil Procedure.
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
Writ of Mandate Compelling Adoption of
Legally Sufficient Zoning Code
20. Plaintiffs/petitioners incorporate by reference in this cause of action each
and every allegation of paragraphs 1 through 30, inclusive, above.
21. Under Government Code §65913.1, every city and county must designate and zone
sufficient vacant land for residential use at zoning levels and development standards
appropriate for the production of housing at the lowest possible cost to meet the
needs of lower and moderate income households, as identified in the locality's housing
22. The zoning ordinance of the City of Santa Rosa currently in effect does not
conform with Government Code §§65913 and 65913.1 in that, inter alia,
a) the ordinance does not zone sufficient vacant land for residential use at high
enough densities to make economically feasible the production of housing for lower
b) the ordinance imposes development standards which constrain and impede the
production of housing for low- and very-low income households by, inter alia,
significantly increasing housing costs in zones where higher densities are permitted.
See Government Code §§65913.1 and 65913.2(a).
c) the ordinance fails to permit development of adequate housing for farmworkers "as
of right" in violation of Gov. Code §65583(c)(1)(a).
d) the ordinance discriminates against housing affordable to low and very-low-income
persons in violation of Gov. Code §65008(c) and (d);
f) the ordinance contains restrictions on the siting of housing facilities for persons
with disabilities which unlawfully discriminate against such persons on the basis
g) the ordinance is inconsistent with the requirements of a City housing element which
would comply with applicable state housing laws;
h) the ordinance has a disparate adverse and discriminatory impact on classes of
persons protected by law (see Gov. Code §65008), including racial and ethnic
minorities, seniors, persons with disabilities and women.
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
Unlawful Housing Discrimination
(Cal. Govt. Code §§12900 et seq.)
23. Plaintiffs/petitioners reallege and incorporate by this reference paragraphs
1 through 33, inclusive, of this Complaint and Petition.
24. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Govt. Code §§12900 et seq.,
it is unlawful for the City of Santa Rosa to discriminate through public land use
practices, decisions, and authorizations because of race, color, national origin,
family status and/or disability.
25. The City's failure to accommodate low and very low-income housing development
has a disparate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, the disabled, families with
children, and female-headed households.
26. Plaintiffs/petitioners are informed and believe and on that basis allege that
persons and households needing affordable housing in the City are disproportionately
racial and ethnic minorities, the disabled, families with children, and female-headed
27. The failure of the City to adopt an adequate and consistent housing element and
to adequately zone for low and very low-income housing discriminates against racial
and ethnic minorities, the disabled, families with children, and female-headed
households, and has a discriminatory effect on these groups and individuals.
28. The City's failure to plan for and accommodate housing affordable to low and
very low-income persons and households in compliance with state law unlawfully
discriminates against plaintiffs' enjoyment of residence, property ownership, and
tenancy, on the basis of one or more protected classifications alleged above.
29. The City's zoning and land use ordinances have, by design and intention, operated
to restrict or prevent development of housing for lower income households in the
northeast quadrant of Santa Rosa, while concentrating such housing in the southeast
30. The acts and omissions of the City constitute unlawful discrimination on the
basis of race, color, disability, familial status, or national origin and gender in
violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, supra.
FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION
Writ of Mandate to Compel Compliance With
Cal. Gov. Code §65008
(Cal. Code of Civ. Pro. §1085)
31. Plaintiffs/petitioners reallege and incorporate by this reference paragraphs
1 through 40, inclusive, of this Complaint and Petition.
32. Government Code §65008 mandates that no City shall, in the enactment or
administration of planning and land use ordinances, prohibit or discriminate against
any residential development or emergency shelter because of the method of financing
or because of race, sex, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry,
lawful occupation, age, family status, disability or income status of the owners or
intended occupants of the housing.
33. The acts and omissions of the City alleged herein discriminate against
residential development and emergency shelter intended for occupancy by persons with
low and very low incomes, racial and ethnic minorities, families with children, and/or
female-headed households, in violation of Government Code §65008.
34. The acts and omissions of the City alleged herein have a disparate impact on
persons with low and very low incomes, racial and ethnic minorities, families with
children, households with disabilities and/or female-headed households, in violation
of Government Code §65008 in that they discriminate against residential development
and emergency shelter intended for occupancy by these protected classes of persons.
35. The acts and omissions of the City alleged herein impose development standards
which discriminate against the production and siting of housing affordable to very
low-income families in violation of Government Code §65008.
FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION
Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
36. Plaintiffs/petitioners reallege and incorporate by this reference paragraphs
1 through 45, inclusive, of this Complaint and Petition.
37. The continued failure of the City to adopt a housing element which complies with
the requirements of state housing law, and enact a zoning ordinance which is
consistent with the housing element, while it continues to issue subdivision
approvals, and building permits, and to take land use and zoning enforcement actions,
constitutes an unlawful expenditure of County tax revenues.
38. As a result of these unlawful expenditures of tax revenues,
plaintiffs/petitioners are suffering irreparable injury. The injuries they suffer
are not easily quantified or compensable. Unless enjoined, the City will continue
to allow development to proceed which makes little or no provision for low- and very
low-income housing, for housing for homeless persons, for persons with disabilities,
for farmworker housing, and for related services to low-income persons. Without
a housing element which conforms to the requirements of state law, the City will
continue to discourage or prohibit low- and very-low-income housing within its areas.
The remaining areas within and adjacent to the City will be developed without regard
to the needs of the City's lower- income residents, and without regard to the burdens
imposed thereby on other jurisdictions in Sonoma County and neighboring counties.
39. An actual controversy exists between plaintiffs and defendants in that
plaintiffs/petitioners contend that the defendants/respondents are acting
arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to adopt a housing element, and a zoning
ordinance which are consistent with state law, with each other, and with other
elements of the City's general plan. As a direct result thereof, plaintiffs are
deprived of their right under Government Code Section 65583 to a local housing policy
and program that makes adequate provision for the housing needs of all economic
segments of the community, and which does not unlawfully discriminate against classes
and groups of persons.
40. As a direct and proximate result of the defendant/respondents' actions alleged
above, plaintiff/petitioners have suffered and will continue to suffer from the lack
of housing which they can afford in the City. Plaintiffs/petitioners have no plain,
speedy, or adequate remedy at law other than the relief requested in this petition.
SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION
41. Plaintiffs/petitioners reallege and incorporate by this reference paragraphs
1 through 50, inclusive, of this Complaint and Petition.
42. As a result of defendants' actions, defendants are illegally expending funds
of the City of Santa Rosa by actions that violate state housing laws.
43. Plaintiffs/petitioners, as taxpayers of the City, seek an injunction pursuant
to C.C.P. §526(a) against the illegal expenditure of funds by the defendants.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, plaintiffs/petitioners request the following relief:
1. A declaration that the City of Santa Rosa has failed to adopt and implement a
housing element as part of its General Plan which is in actual and substantial
compliance with the requirements of applicable state laws as set forth herein.
2. Preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and/or a writ of mandate, pursuant
to Gov. Code §65754, commanding defendants/respondents to prepare and adopt a housing
element that actually and substantially complies with the requirements of state law;
3. A declaration that the City's zoning ordinance is inconsistent with the housing
element and does not comply with Gov. C. §65300.5;
4. Preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and/or a writ of mandate, commanding
defendants/respondents to amend its zoning ordinance so that it is consistent with
the housing element of the General Plan, and zones sufficient vacant land to meet,
for all income groups, the housing needs identified in the housing element of the
5. A preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining defendants/respondents, and
their officers, employees and representatives from:
(a) issuing building permits for, or otherwise approving any construction
or development except housing units affordable to low- and very-low-income households
as defined in Gov. C. §65589.5(h)(2) and H. & S. C. §50079.5, and which comply in
full with the criteria set forth in Gov. C. §65760, except as provided in Gov. C.
§65755(b), until the City adopts a housing element and zoning ordinance which meet
the requirements of state law; and
(b) granting building permits, zoning changes or variances, or subdivision
map approval, except as provided in Gov. C. §65755(b), and except as to housing units
affordable to low-income households as defined in Gov. C. §65589.5(h)(2) and H. &
S. C. §50079.5 .
7. Reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred by the petitioners/plaintiffs in
the prosecution of this action.
8. Such other relief as the Court deems just.
NEIL M. HERRING
I, Stephen Harper, am one of the officers of the Sonoma County Housing Advocacy Group,
plaintiff/petitioner in the above-entitled action. The principal office of the
Sonoma County Housing Advocacy Group is located in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County,
California. I have read the foregoing Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory
Relief and Petition for Writ of Mandate. The same is true, except as to those matters
that are alleged in the complaint on information and belief, and as to those matters,
I believe them to be true.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of California that the foregoing
is true and correct. Executed October ____, 2002 at Santa Rosa, California.
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