Thursday, July 2, 2009

Local Government's Allocation Of Regional Housing Needs Not Subject To Judicial Review

The Government Code provides a procedure by which each locality is assigned its share of meeting projected Regional Housing needs. Each jurisdiction's allocation in turn is used to formulate the "housing element" of its general plan. The allocation is made pursuant to a complex statutory process involving both the local association of governments and the state Housing and Community Development Department (which hears appeals from decisions made by the local association of governments). A city dissatisfied with the results of this process filed a petition for writ of mandate to overturn the local association's allocation. The trial court held that the allocation was not subject to judicial review and the Court of Appeal affirmed (here), in City of Irvine v . Souther California Association of Governments.

The court acknowledged that nothing in the relevant statutes expressly precludes judicial review and that the constitutional jurisdiction of the California courts to issue writs of mandate is not to be lightly cast aside in the absence of clear indications of legislative intent. Nevertheless, the court found "a clear intent on the part of the Legislature to render this process immune from judicial intervention." The court reached this conclusion because decreasing the plaintiff city's allocation of housing need would increase the burden on other jurisdictions within the region, thus frustrating the statutory mandate that each jurisdiction';s housing element reflect its allocation of housing needs.

This decision reaches the right result, notwithstanding the presumptions in favor of judicial review. Permitting judicial review of these administrative decisions seems incompatible with the statutory scheme.

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