Teixeira et al v. County of Alameda et al

Filing 30


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1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 No. C 12-3288 SI TEIXEIRA, et al., 5 ORDER RE: SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEFING; VACATING HEARING Plaintiffs, 6 7 8 v. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, et al., Defendants. / 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Now before the Court are plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and defendants’ motion 11 to dismiss. Plaintiffs challenge the denial of a variance permit to allow them to open a gun store within 12 five-hundred feet of an area zoned for residential use. Plaintiffs’ complaint raises four Constitutional 13 claims for relief, including an equal protection and due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, 14 and a facial and as-applied challenge under the Second Amendment. A threshold issue in both motions 15 is plaintiffs’ ability to pursue these claims in this Court without having first pursued state remedies. 16 Defendants argue that all of plaintiffs’ claims must be dismissed because plaintiffs “failed to 17 exhaust their judicial remedies.” Def. Mot. at 5. Under California law, the sole procedure for judicial 18 review of zoning determinations is a petition for a writ of mandate in accordance with California Code 19 of Civil Procedure § 1094.5. Johnson v. City of Loma Linda, 24 Cal.4th 61, 70-71 (2000). Defendants 20 contend that before initiating a lawsuit in federal court for injunctive relief and damages, plaintiffs must 21 first exhaust their judicial remedies regarding zoning determinations. Failure to do so, defendants 22 contend, means that the underlying administrative decision has preclusive effect in federal and state 23 court. Citing United States v. Utah Construction & Mining Co., 384 U.S. 394 (1966), defendants 24 contend that where the administrative agency acted in a judicial capacity, resolved disputed issues of 25 fact before it, and both parties had an adequate opportunity to litigate, the administrative decision has 26 a preclusive effect as to both legal and factual issues, even those unreviewed. 27 Plaintiffs respond that it is well-settled that exhaustion of judicial or state remedies is not a 28 prerequisite to bringing an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Patsy v. Bd. of Regents, 457 U.S. 496, 1 500 (1982) (“[W]e have on numerous occasions rejected the argument that a § 1983 action should be 2 dismissed where the plaintiff has not exhausted state administrative remedies.”). Patsy, however, does 3 not dispose of the instant issue. Although plaintiffs’ use the phrase “failure to exhaust,” the pressing 4 issue is what preclusive effect, if any, the administrative decision below has on this Court. Here 5 plaintiffs did not petition for a writ of mandate to challenge the factual findings of the West County 6 Board of Zoning Adjustments (“WBZA”), nor did plaintiffs challenge the legality of Alameda County 7 Ordinance § 17.54.131. The consequences of plaintiffs’ failure to challenge the factual or legal accuracy of the decision 9 are squarely at issue in both instant motions. Defendants argue that plaintiffs’ failure is fatal to all four 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 8 constitutional claims. At a minimum, WBZA’s unchallenged legal and factual determinations appear 11 so closely tied to plaintiffs’ constitutional claims that any factual preclusion may be fatal to those 12 claims. For example, plaintiffs’ due process challenge is premised on WBZA’s consideration of an 13 allegedly late 14 filed appeal by a homeowner’s association to WBZA’s initial grant of a variance permit to plaintiffs. 15 Similarly, plaintiffs’ equal protection challenge is premised, in part, on the validity of WBZA’s ‘500 16 feet’ determination. Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claims are also related to factual and legal 17 determinations made by the WBZA. 18 To resolve the instant motions, the Court must resolve the following issue: what preclusive 19 effect, if any, does plaintiffs’ failure to seek state review of the WBZA’s decisions have on this Court’s 20 authority to decide the factual questions and/or legal claims in plaintiffs’ complaint. Accordingly, the 21 Court hereby DIRECTS the parties to file with the Court no later than January 25, 2013, supplemental 22 briefs not to exceed 30 pages, addressing this issue. The December 21, 2012, hearing on the instant 23 motions is hereby VACATED and the hearing is rescheduled for February 22, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. 24 25 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: December 18, 2012 26 27 28 SUSAN ILLSTON 2 1 United States District Judge 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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