CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE) – The Fresno County Superior Court has ruled that the city of Clovis has not been in compliance with state housing laws, according to court documents filed on April 30.
The city has been ordered to zone or rezone for 4,425 affordable housing units. It comes after a lawsuit was filed against Clovis by Central Legal Services in October 2019 that alleged the city discriminated against people based on income and race by not adequately zoning or planning affordable housing and therefore failed to comply with state housing law.
“It just took so long to fight for something that we’ve needed for so long,” said Desiree Martinez. Central Legal Services filed the lawsuit on Martinez’s behalf.
California’s housing element law requires that all local governments “adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community.”
Court documents state that “the city is not in ‘substantial compliance.'”
Part of that is due to the city not planning for the more than 4,400 affordable housing units.
Court documents state that ‘the 2015-23 Housing Element included a commitment to ‘[P]rovide adequate zoning on at least 221 acres of land by December 31, 2016[,] to cover the unaccommodated need from the from the Fourth Cycle RHNA of 4,425 lower-income units.'”
It continues on to say that by Dec. 31, 2016, the city of Clovis “had not fulfilled its commitment in the 2016 Housing Element to rezone sites to cover unaccommodated need from the previous planning period.”
“(Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan) gave us really everything we asked for which Clovis has got to make space and room for low-income families,” said Patience Milrod, the executive director of Central California Legal Services. “Clovis doesn’t have to build any housing. But the law says they have to make space for housing and the way a city does that is by zoning.”
“When you live on a quarter-acre lot, that is because you are in a single-family zoned area,” Milrod said. “Somebody who lives in an apartment is living on property that was zoned for multi-family. So Clovis will need to zone for a lot more multi-family kinds of units.”
The court did not side with Martinez in regards to the discrimination claims.
In a statement, the city of Clovis said it’s “committed to providing affordable housing opportunities for its residents and is evaluating its legal options in response to this ruling,”
Martinez said she used to live in Clovis and with affordable housing, she could go back.
“I think it would be absolutely amazing for individuals in Fresno to be able to now afford in the future to go to Clovis and if they want to send their kids to Clovis schools, now they can afford to live in Clovis.”