Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

                                                                           CIVIL ACTION NO.
           v.                                                             (INJUNCTIVE RELIEF SOUGHT)

LITTLE ROCK PLANNING
COMMISSION

           Defendant.
______________________________

COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges:

I. PARTIES, JURISDICTION, AND VENUE

  1. This action is brought by the United States of America. Plaintiff United States' address for purposes of this action is Department of Justice, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., G St. Building, Washington, DC, 20530.
  2. The defendant is the Little Rock Planning Commission ("Planning Commission"), of the City of Little Rock, Arkansas. The address of the Planning Commission, which is located in the Eastern District of Arkansas, is 723 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR, 72201.
  3. The United States brings this action to enforce the provisions of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 - 3619. It is brought pursuant to Section 814(b)(1)(A) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §3614(b)(1)(A).
  4. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3614(b)(1).
  5. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b)(1) and (2) because this action has been brought in the judicial district in which the sole defendant, the Little Rock Planning Commission, resides; in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, and in which a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action, in particular 8225 Brimer Road, Mabelvale, AR, 72103, is situated.
  6. II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

  7. The Little Rock Planning Commission was created pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 14-56-404 and Little Rock, Ark., Code §§ 23-26, 23-27, and it is comprised of eleven members who are appointed by the City of Little Rock Board of Directors. The Planning Commission's regular duties include, among other things, deciding whether to grant or deny conditional use permit applications filed with the Little Rock Department of Planning and Development to build manufactured homes in residential areas within the city limits.
  8. Christopher and Shonita Elliot ("the Elliots") are an African-American married couple who reside in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
  9. On July 30, 2001, the Elliots filed with the City of Little Rock Department of Planning and Development an application for a conditional use permit to build a manufactured home at 8225 Brimer Road in southwest Little Rock (1) ("8225 Brimer Road").
  10. According to the 2000 Census, the City of Little Rock has a population of 183,133, of whom 73,679 or 40.2% are African-American. The lot at 8225 Brimer Road is located in a 2000 census block that is 80.8% White. The census blocks immediately surrounding 8225 Brimer Road and West of Chicot Road are 96% to 100% White, according to the 2000 Census.
  11. On September 6, 2001, the Little Rock Planning Commission held a public hearing to consider the Elliots' conditional use permit application. At the hearing, the Planning Commission staff recommended approval of the Elliots' conditional use permit application because it conformed to the R-2 zoning standards for setbacks, the site plan complied with the minimum siting standards for a multi-sectional manufactured home, and the home would have no adverse impact on the surrounding area.
  12. At the September 6, 2001, hearing, seventeen white residents of Little Rock indicated opposition to the Elliots' request for a permit.
  13. The Little Rock Planning Commission voted on September 6, 2001, to deny a conditional use permit to the Elliots to place a manufactured home at 8225 Brimer Road.
  14. The Elliots' conditional use permit application met all requirements set forth in the applicable city ordinances, and their proposed home would have been a compatible use for the area.
  15. During 2001, the same year that the defendant denied a permit to the Elliots, the defendant approved three conditional use permits for white applicants to live in manufactured homes in predominantly white areas of Little Rock and three permits for black applicants to live in manufactured homes in predominantly black areas of Little Rock.
  16. Some of the conditional use permits granted by the defendant for white applicants in 2001 did not meet the minimum requirements for approval, as set forth in the applicable city ordinance, but were nevertheless approved. Some conditional use permits for white applicants were granted, subject to conditions.
  17. The defendant denied the Elliots a conditional use permit to live in a manufactured home in a predominately white area because of their race.
  18. On November 5, 2001, the Elliots filed with the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") a housing discrimination complaint. The Elliots alleged in their complaint that the denial of their conditional use permit application to build a manufactured home at 8225 Brimer Road constituted discrimination based upon race in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Secretary of HUD has determined that the complaint involves the legality of state or local zoning or other land use laws or ordinances. Accordingly, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g), the Secretary referred the matter to the Attorney General for appropriate action.
  19. 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.
  20. In denying approval of the Elliots' conditional use permit to build a manufactured home, the defendant made housing unavailable on the basis of race, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a).
  21. The Elliots have been injured by the defendant's discriminatory practices as described above and are aggrieved persons as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). The Elliots have suffered monetary damages as a result of defendant's discriminatory conduct.
  22. Defendant's conduct has been intentional, willful, and taken in disregard of the rights of others.

III. PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the court enter a JUDGMENT that:

  1. Declares that the actions of the defendant described herein constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act;
  2. Enjoins the defendant, its officials, agents, and employees, and all other persons in active concert or participation with it from continuing to discriminate on the basis of race in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.;
  3. Awards monetary relief to Christopher and Shonitra Elliot pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(B); and
  4. Assesses a civil penalty against the defendant in an amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), in order to vindicate the public interest.

The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.

JOHN ASHCROFT
Attorney General
By:

H. E. BUD CUMMINS, III
United States Attorney

R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General


_____________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil


_____________________
DIANE L. HOUK
ELIZABETH TUCCI
Attorneys
Housing and Civil Enforcement
   Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
G St. Building
Washington, DC 20530
(202)353-9707
FAX: (202)514-1116


1. Although 8225 Brimer Road has a mailing address of Mabelvale, it is located in the southwestern portion of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Filed: September 30, 2003 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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