Our Work

We hold municipal governments accountable when acting in violation of California State laws.

CalHDF pursues legal action where developers have not, bringing suit against cities that fail to approve compliant housing.


CalHDF v. La Cañada Flintridge

CalHDF sued La Cañada Flintridge after the city denied a housing development proposed under the builder’s remedy, a long-neglected provision in state law that prohibits cities from denying projects that fail to comply with zoning and development standards. 

Mellem v. Dana Point

Dana Point has been denying ADU permits contrary to state law. Mr. Mellem proposed an ADU to add a unit to his existing triplex, converting the two car garage to a new home. While the permit should have been approved within 60 days, the city instead dragged out the process for over a year, finally denying the permit at a City Council hearing in the fall of 2023. We sued to overturn the denial and uphold state ADU law. 

CaRLA v. Santa Clara County

CaRLA (now CalHDF) sued Santa Clara County for changing the zoning regulations on a small exclusive single family neighborhood to discourage development. The Housing Crisis Act of 2019 prohibits cities and counties from downzoning neighborhood to reduce development less than what was allowed in 2019, but the county ignored this clear prohibition.

Legal expenses are a major contributor to the high costs of housing development; CalHDF seeks to combat this through free legal aid to homebuilders. Byzantine regulations create high barriers to entry in the field, leaving the development of housing only to those who can afford expensive lawyers and consultants.

We particularly seek to support small projects – encompassing 3 to 10 units – whose development teams do not have the legal budget to appeal local rulings. We also seek out cases that will resolve key areas of housing law, and break down legal barriers to new housing production.

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CaRLA is sustained by your charitable contributions. If you would like to see us continue our work, please consider joining our growing list of supporters with a monthly subscription.