Putnam Family Partnership v. Yucaipa

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Municipal Law
  • Date Filed: 02-17-2012
  • Case #: 10-55563
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Moore for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, sitting by designation, for the Court; Circuit Judges Fernandez and McKeown
  • Full Text Opinion

The requisite intent to provide housing for seniors under the “senior exemption” exception to prohibitions on discriminatory housing policies in the Fair Housing Amendments Act and Housing for Older Persons Act can be that of a city in passing a zoning ordinance, and is not limited to the intent of a housing provider.

The City of Yucaipa, California ("the City"), passed a zoning ordinance “prohibiting any mobilehome park currently operating as senior housing from converting to all-age housing.” Four mobilehome park owners (collectively, “Putnam”) sued under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (“FHAA”), arguing that the ordinance forced them to discriminate based on familial status, that it interfered with their ability to accommodate families under the Act, and that the FHAA preempted the ordinance. The City argued that the "senior exemption" in the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (“HOPA”), amending the FHAA, permitted the ordinance. Putnam responded by asserting that the element of intent to provide housing for seniors that is required for the senior exemption is properly ascribed to the housing provider, not the City. The district court granted the City’s motion to dismiss, holding that the intent required in HOPA could be the City’s intent. Putnam appealed, arguing that the district court's reliance on Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) regulations allowing for municipally-zoned senior housing under the senior exemption were “inconsistent with the statute or otherwise outside the scope of the agency’s authority.” The Ninth Circuit examined the statutory construction, legislative history, and ambiguity of the statutes, concluding that the City may be a requisite holder of the intent to provide housing for seniors. The Court found that the FHAA and HOPA are silent on the issue of intent and the HUD regulations are a reasonable interpretation of the statute. AFFIRMED.

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