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.”

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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.

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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....