The Governor decided to veto AB 1220 on Sunday – the last day he was able to take action on a bill. This bill was modeled after AB 602 from last year, which was also vetoed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. While it was vetoed last year, the exact same language returned this year. AB 1220 would originally have expanded from one year to five years the statute of limitations to sue a city or county, challenging the adoption of a housing element or a number of related ordinances – substantially longer than the 90-days to challenge the entire General Plan or 30 days to challenge a CEQA document. It would have encouraged a broad array of expensive lawsuits leaving local agencies, businesses, and developers unfairly open to uncertainty long after decisions have been made.

This bill was a top priority for APA as well as the League and CSAC. To stop this bill there were numerous meetings with members and staff as well as testimony and letters sent to both houses in every committee it went to. While the bill made it to the Governor, it did not do so without a fight. Because of strong opposition from APA, the League, CSAC and others, at the end of session, the housing advocates amended the bill to allow a three-year statute of limitations. However, the process in the bill would actually have allowed four years to sue. In meeting with the Governor’s office, we argued that three years was simply too long, eliminating the certainty that the housing statute was designed to provide. Clearly, the Governor agreed.

Thank you to all APA members who sent letters to the Governor asking for the veto. The Governor’s veto message is below. The message is short, but to the point – and in agreement with APA’s core reasons for opposing this bill.

I am returning Assembly Bill 1220 without my signature. This bill increases the statute of limitations from 90 days to 3 years for a citizen to file a Notice of Deficiency in a locally adopted housing element. While I understand the value of using the courts to compel compliance with state housing goals, there should be a balance between a local government’s planning authority and citizen oversight. This bill tilts that balance and creates too much uncertainty.

Sincerely, Edmund G. Brown Jr.