D.C. Bar No. 412998
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division (HCE - G St.)
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 514-2188 - tel.
(202) 514-1689 - fax
Allen.Levy@USDOJ.Gov - e-mail
Attorney for the plaintiff, United States
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CITY OF PAYETTE, IDAHO,
1. This action is brought by the United States of America to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a) and 42 U.S.C. §3614(b).
3. Defendant City of Payette, Idaho, is a political subdivision of the State of Idaho, organized under the laws of the State.
4. The City of Payette, through the Payette City Council, exercises zoning and land use authority over land within its boundaries. The Payette Code contains the City's zoning and land use regulations.
5. In the summer and fall of 2001, Wilma Sue Keith (" Keith ") sought to open and operate a group residence called " Harbor House " in Payette. The purpose of Harbor House was to house and counsel persons recovering from alcohol and drug dependency. Harbor House was to be operated from a single-family residence owned by Keith and her husband Glenn, located in Payette at 355 Third Avenue North.
6. City officials told Ms. Keith that she would need a conditional use permit (c.u.p.) before she could open Harbor House, so she applied for one.
7. On or about June 28, 2001, the Payette Planning and Zoning Commission denied Keith's application for a c.u.p. 8. On or about August 6, 2001, the Payette City Council held a public hearing on Keith's application to operate Harbor House. At the hearing, Keith explained that Harbor House would forbid drug or alcohol use, and its residents would be former alcoholics or drug addicts who were recovering from their addiction. Area residents who attended the hearing, as well as the earlier Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, made numerous comments indicating opposition to the proposed group home based on the fact that the prospective residents of the home would be persons with disabilities.
9. City council members, as indicated by their questions and comments, likewise opposed the group home because the prospective members of the home would be persons with disabilities. At the conclusion of the hearing, the City Council voted to deny Keith's application for a c.u.p.
10. The City Council's official findings assert that the c.u.p. was not approved because the group home is a commercial business not permitted in a residential zone, because the group home would not be " harmonious " with the city's comprehensive plan, and because the group home would harm the surrounding neighborhoods by adding traffic, population and noise. These professed reasons for denying the c.u.p. are pretextual. The City Council has, previously and subsequently, permitted commercial businesses in residential zones. In addition, Idaho law permits a group home to operate in a residential zone without a c.u.p. Idaho Code §§ 67-6531(a) and 67-6532(b) (Michie 1995)(defining certain group homes as " single family homes " and forbidding localities from requiring c.u.p.'s for those homes, unless also required for single family homes).
11. On or about December 3, 2001, the Payette City Council again considered the Harbor House application, this time amended to house four recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, and again the City Council denied the c.u.p.
12. On or about August 24, 2001, Keith filed a timely complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (" HUD "). The complaint alleges that the Payette Planning and Zoning Commission and the Payette City Council improperly refused to grant Keith a c.u.p. for Harbor House. After unsuccessfully attempting to conciliate the charge, HUD referred the matter to the Department of Justice pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(C) on or about March 1, 2002.
13. The proposed residents of the group home are " handicapped " within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
14. The proposed residential facility is a " dwelling " within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).
15. The defendant's refusal to issue a c.u.p. prevented Keith from establishing and operating the proposed group home.
16. The defendant's actions in refusing to issue a c.u.p. were taken on account of the handicapped status of the prospective residents of the group home, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1), and 3604(f)(2).
FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF
17. The Attorney General is authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(b)(1)(A) to bring this action upon referral by the Secretary of HUD.
18. In denying the c.u.p. for Harbor House, defendant made housing unavailable on the basis of handicapped status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f).
19. There are persons, including Wilma Sue Keith, Glenn Keith and Clinton Scott, who are victims of defendant's discriminatory practices as described above and who are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. §3602(i). These persons have suffered, or may have suffered, damages as a result of defendant's discriminatory conduct.
20. Defendant's conduct has been intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of others.
SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF
21. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-20 above.
22. The conduct of defendant described in paragraphs 1-20 above constitutes a denial to a group of persons of rights granted by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§3601-3619, which denial raises an issue of general public importance. 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:
1. Declares that the actions of defendant described herein constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act;
2. Enjoins defendant, its agents, employees, assigns, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with it, from violating any provision of the Fair Housing Act on the basis of disability;
3. Enjoins defendant, its agents, employees, assigns, successors and all other persons in active concert or participation with it, to make reasonable accommodations in its policies, practices, rules or services as required by the Fair Housing Act, including accommodations that permit the establishment and operation of group residences;
4. Requires such action by defendant as may be necessary to restore all persons aggrieved by defendant's discriminatory housing practices to the position they would have occupied but for such discriminatory conduct;
5. Awards such damages as would fully compensate each person aggrieved by defendant's discriminatory housing practices for its injuries caused by such discriminatory conduct, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B);
6. Awards each person aggrieved by defendant's discriminatory housing practices appropriate punitive damages, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
7. Assesses a civil penalty against defendant in an amount of money authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C) and 28 C.F.R. § 85.3(b)(3) in order to vindicate the public interest.
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
RALPH F. BOYD JR.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
D. MARC HAWS
Idaho Bar No. 2483
Wells Fargo Plaza
877 W. Main Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
Tel. (208) 334-1211
Fax. (208) 334-1414
JOAN A. MAGAGNA
Chief, Housing and Civil
Document Filed: October 21, 2002 > >