There are laws that exist on paper — and there are laws that are enforced. For California’s housing market, it has long been the case that legislators will pass a law at the state level, and then local councils will choose whether they want to go along with it (or not).

This is no longer the case, my recalcitrant friends.

Beginning in 2024, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is authorized to intervene in any legal action addressing violations of:

  • the Housing Accountability Act;
  • the Density Bonus Law; and
  • the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. [Calif. Government Code 65585.01]

Further, the OAG is also required to intervene when local councils fail to follow additional laws relating to housing, including laws that:

  • streamline accessory dwelling unit (ADU) approvals;
  • require an action from the city to approve lot and parcel splits;
  • fall under the Middle Class Housing Act of 2022; and
  • prohibit local governments from holding more than five public hearings for most housing projects. [Gov C 65585 et seq.]

This is a change from the longer process of intervention previously required for private cases involving housing, which required the Department of Housing and Community Development to first issue a complaint to the OAG. Then, the Department and OAG must prove to the court they have an interest in the outcome of a legal action before they may intervene in court.

By broadening the OAG’s powers to take legal action against a local councils defying implementation of state-mandated housing laws, the OAG is to take swifter action and smooth the path for California’s housing shortage to be solved more efficiently. Councils are learning, under threat of jail time, that housing permits are administrative activities, not political decisions.

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The OAG’s Housing Strike Force has teeth

California’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has enacted several initiatives to combat the state’s housing shortage in recent years. In 2022, this included the creation of the Housing Strike Force aimed at advancing:

  • access to housing;
  • availability of affordable housing;
  • environmentally sustainable housing; and
  • equity in California’s housing market, according to the OAG.

With dedicated resources and an ambitious name to live up to, the Housing Strike Force is the OAG’s answer to California’s many — typically politically conservative — communities simply ignoring recent legislation aimed at increasing housing for low- and moderate-income households. City councils politically responding with sympathy toward NIMBY activists.

In 2023 alone, the OAG has filed lawsuits and intervened in cases against:

With this new law under its wings, expect to see additional legal actions against wayward local councils in the year to come.

Have a complaint or tip about housing laws not being enforced by the council in your community? Email

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California’s new housing strike force prepares for battle — with NIMBYs