In summary

With a majority of housing plans out of compliance with state housing law, developers could theoretically use a little-known law to kick building into high gear. On this week’s podcast, a housing law expert breaks down the untested “builder’s remedy.”

Please subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsSoundcloud and Stitcher.

California finds itself in the midst of its most contentious housing planning process in history.

For starters, every eight years, the state requires all cities to produce a zoning plan to accommodate enough new housing to meet projected population growth. This cycle, the numbers cities have to meet are a lot higher than in the past.

Last week, cities across the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area faced judgment day for their housing plans for the next decade. Not unlike their neighbors in Southern California, who faced a similar deadline last year, a vast majority of cities were out of compliance.

In the past, the state has done little to nothing about those scofflaws. But this go-around, things are different. The state has sharpened the tools in its toolbox to go after them, including a little-known potion known as the builder’s remedy.

In theory, the builder’s remedy allows developers to basically build whatever they want in cities that don’t have state-compliant housing plans provided they set aside some units for low or middle income households. 

But like its name, it’s a bit of a mythical creature because it’s never been used before. Is California really about to get Manhattanized?

Gimme Shelter is here to try to answer that question. Co-hosts Manuela Tobias, who covers housing policy for CalMatters, and Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability for the Los Angeles Times, sat down with Chris Elmendorf, a professor at the UC Davis School of Law who has written at length about the builder’s remedy to discuss these uncharted waters.

Gimme Shelter issue suggestions

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact CalMatters with any commentary questions:

Manuela is our former Housing Reporter whose stories focused on the political dynamics and economic and racial inequities that contribute to the housing crisis in California and its potential solutions....