Beverly Hills places moratorium on home improvements over lack of affordable housing

A judge has stopped the city of Beverly Hills from issuing all building permits except for new residential development as a penalty for the city’s alleged failure to approve an appropriate plan for affordable housing, it was reported Thursday.

Beverly Hills leaders are appealing the Dec. 21 decisions by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin and are still processing permits, but the potential consequences on home and business owners and the construction industry have surprised officials there, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I’m shocked by the judgment,” said Murray Fischer, a real estate attorney who has practiced in Beverly Hills for 50 years, told the Times. “It would mean that the city is at a standstill.”

Beverly Hills is only one of several Los Angeles County cities served with petitions by Californians for Home Ownership Inc. Others include West Hollywood, Whittier, Hawaiian Gardens, Bradbury, South Pasadena, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, Claremont, La Canada Flintridge and Manhattan Beach.

The permit moratorium would be among the most concrete consequences of California’s efforts to encourage cities to allow for new housing, including in wealthy communities that have not wanted it, the newspaper reported.

Population growth has not affected Beverly Hills, which had a population in 1970 of 33,400 that had fallen by 1,000 residents Thursday, according to the Times.

In his ruling, the judge noted that Beverly Hills is counting on medical office buildings and car dealerships to convert to housing, despite the city’s admission that such a transition is unlikely, the Times reported.

Matthew Gelfand, an attorney representing Californians for Homeownership, praised Kin for the permit moratorium, saying that the decision could lead to a groundswell within Beverly Hills to make a deal with the state, according to the newspaper.

Californians for Homeownership is a nonprofit organization financed by the California Association of Realtors.