Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Women’s Elevated v. City of Plano
Plaintiffs are Constance Swanston (“Swanston”), Shannon Jones (“Jones”), and Women’s Elevated Sober Living, LLC (“WESL”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”). Swanston is an individual in recovery from substance use disorders (“SUDs”) and the owner and operator of WESL. In November 2018, WESL opened a sober living home (the “Home”) on Stoney Point Drive in Plano, Texas. Jones is a caretaker and resident of the Home. Defendant-Appellant, the City of Plano (the “City”) appealed the district court’s judgment holding that it violated the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) due to its failure to accommodate Plaintiffs as to the capacity limits in the applicable zoning ordinance. The district court enjoined the City from (1) restricting the Home’s occupancy to fewer than fifteen residents; (2) enforcing any other property restriction violative of the FHA or ADA; and (3) retaliating against Plaintiffs for pursuing housing discrimination complaints under the FHA and ADA. Following a hearing, awarded Plaintiffs nominal damages of one dollar. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court’s injunction and remanded it. The court held that the district court erred in determining that the evidence satisfied the applicable legal standard. The court explained that the Third Circuit concluded that, based on its strict reading of Section 3604(f)(3)(B) and the prior jurisprudence in its court and its sister circuits, the resident failed to prove that her requested accommodation was necessary considering the definition of the term, the purpose of the FHA, and the proffered alternatives. The court wrote that for the same reasons, it holds that Plaintiffs have failed to establish that their requested accommodation was therapeutically necessary. View "Women's Elevated v. City of Plano" on Justia Law
City of Orange Beach v. Boles.
In consolidated appeals, the City of Orange Beach ("the City") appealed a judgment entered in favor of Ian Boles in regard to a dispute over the City's inspection of Boles' property. Between 2013 and 2015 Boles constructed two eight-bedroom duplexes on property he owned located within the City limits ("the beachfront property"). In September 2015, Boles filed a building-permit application seeking a permit to construct two additional multiple-level duplexes on the beachfront property. Additionally, in October 2015, Boles filed a separate building-permit application for the construction of a single-family dwelling on another parcel of property that Boles owned within the City limits ("the Burkhart Drive property"). At the time of each permit request, Boles completed a "Home Builders Affidavit" attesting that he was the owner of the property; that he would be acting as his own contractor on the proposed project, which would not be offered for sale; and that he was, thus, exempt from the requirement that he be licensed under Alabama's Home Builders Licensure Law. The building-permit packages provided to Boles explained that a certificate of occupancy for the proposed structure would not be issued until, among other things, "a subcontractor list has been submitted to the [City's] Finance Department." Boles also received with each package a blank subcontractor form for identifying all subcontractors for the proposed project, which specified that it was due within 10 days of the issuance of the building permits. Boles proceeded with construction on the two properties without completing or returning the subcontractor form for either property. Boles's electrical subcontractor apparently contacted the City to request an electrical meter-release inspection upon completion of the electrical portion of that project; the City refused. Boles contended the City either lacked the authority to and/or were exceeding their authority in refusing to inspect the beachfront property until the City received information to which, according to Boles, it was not entitled. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred both in submitting Boles's damages claims to a jury and in denying the City's motion seeking a judgment as a matter of law. The trial court's judgment was reversed, and these matters were remanded for further proceedings. View "City of Orange Beach v. Boles." on Justia Law
Yes In My Back Yard v. City of Culver City
The Housing Crisis Act of 2019 (the Act) is among the measures that the California Legislature has adopted to address the state’s housing shortage. Subdivision (b)(1)(A) of section 66300 prohibits affected cities from (1) enacting any policy that changes the zoning of parcels to “a less intensive use” or (2) “reducing the intensity of land use” within a zoning district to below what was allowed under zoning ordinances in effect on January 1, 2018. Defendants the City of Culver City and the City Council of the City of Culver City (City Council) (collectively, the City) adopted Ordinance No. 2020-010, changing development standards in its single-family residential, or R-1, zone. The Ordinance reduced the allowable floor area ratio (FAR) for primary residences from .60 to .45, decreasing the square footage of a house that could be built on a lot. Plaintiffs Yes In My Back Yard (collectively, YIMBY) filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking an order declaring the Ordinance void. The trial court determined the Ordinance violated section 66300 because the FAR reduction impermissibly reduced the intensity of land use. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that there is no published authority addressing the proper interpretation of section 66300, and thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in considering the novelty of the questions presented. In calculating the lodestar amount, the court accepted the hourly rates of YIMBY’s counsel, noting that “[the City] ma[d]e no argument to the contrary.” There is no showing that the trial court applied the multiplier to punish the City. View "Yes In My Back Yard v. City of Culver City" on Justia Law
Mary’s Kitchen v. City of Orange
Defendant City of Orange (the City) appealed an order denying an anti-SLAPP motion. The underlying lawsuit alleged a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act). Plaintiff Mary’s Kitchen provided homeless services in the City of Orange. Prior to the filing of this lawsuit, the city manager for the City terminated Mary’s Kitchen’s license, citing safety concerns. Subsequently, the city council held an executive (i.e., closed) session to discuss potential unspecified litigation. Afterward, the city attorney exited the meeting and declared that the council had “unanimously confirmed” the termination of Mary’s Kitchen’s license. The Brown Act required that any contemplated action or topic of discussion be posted in an agenda at least 72 hours prior to the meeting; the meeting agenda pertinent here did not mention anything about Mary’s Kitchen’s license. Plaintiffs Mary’s Kitchen and Gloria Suess (chief executive officer and president of Mary’s Kitchen) filed a verified complaint/petition for writ of mandate against the City. The City filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that because the agenda described the meeting as discussing legal matters, the complaint/petition arose out of protected activity. The City took the position that no action was taken at the meeting, and that the unanimous approval described in the minutes simply reflected inaction—i.e., that the city council chose to do nothing to override the city manager’s decision to terminate the license. The court denied the motion, concluding the complaint targeted the City’s failure to provide adequate notice of the confirmation of the license termination rather than anything that was said at the meeting. To this the Court of Appeal agreed with this assessment and further concluded that the “unanimous confirm[ation]” was evidence of an action: ratification. View "Mary's Kitchen v. City of Orange" on Justia Law
Van Sant & Co. v. Town of Calhan, et al.
Plaintiff Van Sant & Co. (Van Sant) owned and operated a mobile home park in Calhan, Colorado, for a number of years. In 2018, Van Sant began to publicly explore the possibility of converting its mobile home park to an RV park. In October 2018, Calhan adopted an ordinance that imposed regulations on the development of new RV parks, but also included a grandfather clause that effectively exempted the two existing RV parks in Calhan, one of which was connected to the grandparents of two members of Calhan’s Board of Trustees (Board) who voted in favor of the new RV park regulations. Van Sant subsequently filed suit against Calhan, several members of its Board, the owners of one of the existing RV parks, and other related individuals. asserting antitrust claims under the Sherman Act, as well as substantive due process and equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants successfully moved for summary judgment. Van Sant appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Van Sant & Co. v. Town of Calhan, et al." on Justia Law
Tidwell, et al. v. Blaine County, et al.
Plaintiffs Kiki Leslie Tidwell (“Tidwell”) and the Madison Jean Tidwell Trust opposed an affordable housing project on land dedicated to Blaine County, Idaho for public use. Plaintiffs contended the Final Plat contemplated the land be held for open space and recreational use, but Blaine County contracted with ARCH Community Housing Trust (“ARCH”) and Blaine County Housing Authority (“BCHA”) to donate a parcel ("Parcel C") to BCHA to construct community housing. Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the County, ARCH, and BCHA (collectively “the County”) seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages to Tidwell under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court ultimately dismissed Tidwell’s section 1983 claim, but the district court allowed Plaintiffs to pursue the remaining claims, despite the County’s contention that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the complaint. Following a series of unsuccessful dispositive motions seeking summary and partial summary judgment on both sides, the case proceeded to court trial, where Plaintiffs prevailed on both claims for declaratory and injunctive relief. The district court denied Tidwell’s request for attorney fees. The County appealed, and Tidwell cross-appealed the dismissal of her section 1983 claim and both Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s denial of attorney fees. On appeal, the County again raised its standing argument, contending Plaintiffs had no particularized interest in the parcel and suffered no particularized injury. If Plaintiffs had standing, the County claimed the district court erred by concluding the Final Plat was ambiguous and by permitting extrinsic evidence, including testimony of what the parties intended to construct on the parcel when the land was transferred. The Plaintiffs cross-appealed, with Tidwell alleging the district court erred in dismissing her procedural and substantive due process claims brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Both Plaintiffs also contended the district court abused its discretion in denying their claim for attorney fees. The Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment because Plaintiffs lacked standing to assert their claims. Costs, but not attorney fees, were awarded on appeal to the County. View "Tidwell, et al. v. Blaine County, et al." on Justia Law
Leo v. Oklahoma Water Resources Board
Petitioners Debbie Leo d/b/a Miller Lake Retreat, LLC, Larinda McClellan, Louise Redman Trust, Walter Myrl Redman, and Kenneth Roberts appealed a district court's order affirming the Oklahoma Water Resources Board's (the OWRB) final order granting a permit to The City of Oklahoma City (the City) to divert stream water from the Kiamichi River in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. The City cross-appealed the district court's order denying its motion to dismiss Petitioners' petition for judicial review for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The City contended Petitioners' failure to name the City as a respondent in their petition for judicial review of the OWRB's order was a fatal, jurisdictional flaw under the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act, (OAPA). The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that 75 O.S.2011, § 318(B)(2) required that the agency (here, the OWRB) be named as a respondent in the caption of the petition for review for the district court to acquire jurisdiction to review a final agency order. However, Section 318(B)(2) of the OAPA did not require the City be named as a respondent in the petition. Therefore, the district court's order finding it had jurisdiction to review the final agency order was affirmed. The Supreme Court further held the district court properly applied the Four Points of Law in O.A.C. § 785:20-5-4, including using the OWRB's calculation of available stream water and evaluation of beneficial use, which was based on substantial evidence in the record, with no findings of prejudicial error. Therefore, the district court's order affirming the OWRB's order was affirmed. View "Leo v. Oklahoma Water Resources Board" on Justia Law
Berger, et al. v. Sellers, et al.
Darren and Tamara Berger (“Bergers”) appealed a judgment dismissing their claims of violation of a planned unit development (PUD), breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, private nuisance, and negligence against their neighbors Jason and Krysta Sellers (“Sellers”), Sellers’ homebuilder Jordan Anderson and Big River Builders, Inc. (together, “Builder”), and the Misty Waters Owners’ Association (“Association”). Sellers and Builder cross-appealed the judgment dismissing their claims of defamation, interference with contract and business, and negligence against Bergers and neighbor Jeff Carlson. The central issue in this case was whether the PUD minimum setback from the bay could be changed by obtaining a new Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) without an amendment to the PUD. To this, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the PUD unambiguously set the minimum setback from the bay as the contour line in the 2005 LOMR-F and therefore Sellers’ home violated the PUD. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Bergers’ claims against Sellers for violation of the PUD, breach of restrictive covenants, negligence (drainage), and private nuisance (setbacks). The Court remanded with instructions to grant Bergers partial summary judgment on their claims against Sellers for violation of the PUD and breach of restrictive covenants and for declaratory relief (against Sellers) as requested in their motion for partial summary judgment. The Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on Bergers’ claims against the Association for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. The Court affirmed the court’s grant of summary judgment on all of Bergers’ claims against Builder, namely the PUD violation, breach of restrictive covenants, and negligence. The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on Bergers’ claims against the Association for breach of restrictive covenants and private nuisance. The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on all of Sellers’ and Builder’s claims. View "Berger, et al. v. Sellers, et al." on Justia Law
Bracken v. City of Ketchum
This appeal was about whether an aggrieved applicant could bring a direct action against a city, its administrators, and its mayor for alleged misconduct pertaining to the granting of a conditional use permit without first exhausting administrative remedies and seeking judicial review. The answer is almost always “no,” but based on the unique facts in this case the Idaho Supreme Court held that the applicant was excused from exhausting administrative remedies. View "Bracken v. City of Ketchum" on Justia Law
Republic Building Co., Inc. v. Charter Township of Clinton, Michigan
In 1999, the plaintiffs sought to develop condominiums but needed rezoning approval from the Charter Township of Clinton. After a protracted dispute, the plaintiffs sued the Township in Michigan state court. That court entered a consent judgment that dictated the conditions for rezoning the property and completing the project. Years later, after experiencing several setbacks, the plaintiffs sought to amend the consent judgment, but the Township refused.The plaintiffs then filed suit in federal court, alleging several constitutional violations and a breach-of-contract claim. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The consent judgment contains a “retaining-jurisdiction” provision providing Macomb County Circuit Court jurisdiction over its interpretation and enforcement. A separate lawsuit filed in federal district court would constitute a collateral attack on the consent judgment, requiring the district court in some way to interpret or enforce it. All of plaintiffs’ alleged constitutional violations stem from the Township’s alleged refusal to “honor its obligations under the Consent Judgment to allow plaintiffs to develop the Subject Property.” View "Republic Building Co., Inc. v. Charter Township of Clinton, Michigan" on Justia Law