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    Judge’s order: Anaheim can’t require permits for transitional housing
    • May 4, 2024

    An Orange County judge has ruled Anaheim can’t require transitional or supportive housing operators to get permission from the city to open after the City Council denied a nonprofit from opening a group home in 2021.

    State law governs group homes, such as when they need to be licensed and how many people per bedroom. Anaheim’s laws required transitional or supportive housing with seven or more people to get a permit from the city to open in all types of neighborhood zones.

    Judge Walter Schwarm issued the order April 26; it comes out of the city’s loss in the nonprofit Grandma’s House of Hope case, where the city tried to prevent a transitional home for women from opening in its Anaheim Colony Historic District.

    Schwarm’s new order rules that Anaheim must allow Grandma’s House of Hope to house more than six residents at its facility in the neighborhood. He also said the city’s law requiring transitional and supportive housing for seven or more residents to get a permit to open is void.

    Schwarm ruled in February that the city violated state housing laws by not allowing the nonprofit to open the transitional housing facility. In that ruling, Schwarm wrote that Anaheim doesn’t require single-family homes with seven or more residents to get permits, therefore it can’t require transitional housing to do so.

    The City Council in 2021 had voted unanimously to deny issuing a needed permit for the Anaheim Colony group home after community opposition.

    The home would have housed 16 women in an eight-bedroom home, which the nonprofit has said would have served mostly homeless women over 40 with mental health issues and recovering from trauma. The nonprofit then sued the city in 2022 and was later joined in the lawsuit by the state.

    The city will need to notify other transitional housing operators that Anaheim no longer requires permits for transitional or supportive housing. It will also have to post an update on its website with a copy of the notice sent to operators. Conditions for other permits issued by the city for transitional or supportive housing can no longer be enforced as well.

    City spokesperson Mike Lyster said in an email that the city respects the court’s decision and will review it. Lyster said the city needed to be an advocate for its neighborhoods, saying the city has embraced Grandma’s House of Hope by welcoming 10 other facilities in the city at the time.

    “This wasn’t a case of ‘NIMBY’ and was always about equity and a reasonable balance for all, including those in transitional housing,” Lyster said. “Throughout this process, our City Council has sought to ensure that both our neighborhoods and facilities don’t become negatively impacted by overconcentration.”

    Lyster said the city estimates it has around 150 group homes, a portion of which would be affected by the judgement.

    The City Council could vote to appeal the case. Lyster said the order does not go into effect if the city does appeal.

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    ​ Orange County Register