Mountain lions battle zoning laws in California town

When you hear about places in the United States that have experienced a housing crisis, the state of California often tops the list. Late last year, the California state government pass a law that would allow the construction of duplexes on land previously zoned for single-family homes. It can be seen as part of a larger movement across the country – a few years ago, for example, Minneapolis has updated its zoning laws to allow more multi-family residences.

What happens when zoning laws conflict with environmental protection laws? We might just see that in the California town of Woodside. The, as the Los Angeles Times reportslocal government fends off state government in a unique way – and it involves cougars.

The government of Woodside has argued that the town is part of the habitat of mountain lions, which are endangered – and therefore should be exempted from the change in state law. The article quotes housing advocates who find the city’s position dishonest, suggesting it’s likely a cover for residents who want to avoid more affordable housing in their cities.

As the article notes, Woodside isn’t alone in looking for a loophole in state laws. All of this, unfortunately, could keep the state’s housing problems going much longer than anyone would like.

Charles P. Patton