LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – Gov. Gavin Newsom met with a group of Southland mayors Tuesday, stressing the need for cooperation between the state and local jurisdictions to address what he called the state’s growing housing-affordability crisis.

The meeting was the first of what he described in his State of the State address as “a candid conversation” that he hopes to repeat with other municipal and local leaders across the state.

“If we want a California for All, we have to build housing for all,” Newsom said during his address. “I want to support local governments that do what’s right, like Anaheim and Santa Rosa. But there must be accountability for those that don’t.”

The gathering at Long Beach City College included mayors of cities whose housing plans are considered by the governor’s office to be out of compliance with state law.

Century Villages at Cabrillo is a sprawling apartment complex that provides temporary affordable housing and services to more than 1,500 veterans the homeless and their children.

Mike Olson is an Army veteran who lives there with his support dog Chloe.

“I’m grateful this place was available when I needed it,” he said.

Gov. Newsom toured the 27-acre supportive housing community before he met later in the afternoon with mayors from various Southern California cities. He offered to put up more than $250 million as start up money to entice cities to build more affordable housing in a state with some of the highest real estate prices in the nation. Newsom included an additional $500 million in grants when cities and counties achieve those milestones.

“We maintain the dubious status of having the highest poverty rates in the U.S., for one reason, cost of living,” Gov. Newsom said.

The mayors standing behind him were unanimous in their support, but they are not in the position of Huntington Beach, which is being sued by the state over its lack of an affordable housing plan.

“There are 47 communities or jurisdictions that are quote-unquote out of compliance, and I wanted to get a better understanding of why they’re not in compliance with our quote-unquote housing goals,” Newsom said. “We met with a sample of those communities and we heard honest, forthright explanations as to why it’s difficult and why they need support. … And my commitment is to provide support.”

Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates said the city has been “complying with all applicable state housing and zoning laws and has been, and will continue to, work with the California Department of Housing and Community Development regarding meeting the city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment.”

Huntington Beach was the first city to be sued because of a statute of limitations, Newsom said in the State of the State address.

“We started this process off aggressively. I’m not naive about that,” the governor said Tuesday. “We sued the city of Huntington Beach. We did so because they were out of compliance. We as a state have been working with them for some time. They continue to be out of compliance. I don’t want to sue 47 other cities. Quite the contrary, I want to work collaboratively with all of the representatives in those communities, and I want to understand the challenges and struggles they face as only they can express directly.”

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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