Judge rules Los Altos violated state housing laws in blocking downtown project

tl;dr: SB35 requires projects that meet zoning must be approved, and Los Altos was in violation

A proposed five-story development in downtown Los Altos must proceed after a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge found the city violated Senate Bill 35 and other state housing laws in denying the project last year.

The April 24 ruling by Judge Helen Williams states that Los Altos must allow the 15-unit development to proceed at the requested density, and that the city acted in bad faith by blocking the project without merit and in a way that goes beyond making a "benign error."

The verdict is being hailed by housing advocates as a hard-fought victory that sets important precedent for the by-right housing law, which gives residential projects streamlined approval if they meet objective zoning standards. The ruling should signal to cities that they can no longer block housing projects they don't like by twisting and reinterpreting state and local laws, said Victoria Fierce of the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund (CaRLA).