Mhany Mgmt. Inc. v. Cnty. of Nassau, 05-CV-2301 (ADS) (WDW)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtARTHUR D. SPATT
PartiesMHANY Management Inc., Vic DeVita, and Francine McCray, Plaintiffs, -and- New York Communities for Change, Inc., Intervenor - Plaintiff, v. County of Nassau, Incorporated Village of Garden City, and Garden City Board of Trustees, Defendants.
Docket Number05-CV-2301 (ADS) (WDW)
Decision Date15 February 2012

MHANY Management Inc., Vic DeVita, and Francine McCray, Plaintiffs,
-and-
New York Communities for Change, Inc., Intervenor - Plaintiff,
v.
County of Nassau, Incorporated Village of
Garden City, and Garden City Board of Trustees, Defendants.

05-CV-2301 (ADS) (WDW)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Date: February 15, 2012


MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

APPEARANCES:

Hogan & Hartson LLP
Attorneys for the Plaintiffs Vic DeVita and Francine McCray
By: Sabrina Helene Cochet, Esq.,
Jenny Rubin Robertson, Esq.,
Joanna F. Wasick, Esq.,
Stanley Joseph Brown, Esq.,
Toby William Smith, Esq.,
Peter Joseph Dennin, Esq., of Counsel

Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington
Attorneys for the former Plaintiff ACORN and the
Intervenor-Plaintiff New York Communities for Change, Inc.
By: Frederick K. Brewington, Esq., of Counsel

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Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Attorneys for all Plaintiffs and the Intervenor-Plaintiff
New York Communities for Change, Inc.
By: Joseph D. Rich, Esq.,
Linda H. Mullenbach, Esq., of Counsel

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli
Attorney for the Defendant County of Nassau
Office of the Nassau County Attorney
By: Esther D. Miller, Assistant County Attorney
Andrew Reginald Scott, Assistant County Attorney
Ralph J. Reissman, Assistant County Attorney
Bethany Bresnaider O'Neill, Assistant County Attorney
David Bruce Goldin, Assistant County Attorney

Cullen and Dykman, LLP
Attorneys for the Defendants Incorporated Village of Garden
City and Garden City Board of Trustees
By: James G. Ryan, Esq.,
Jennifer A. McLaughlin, Esq., of Counsel

SPATT, District Judge.

In 2005, several individual plaintiffs and organizations commenced a lawsuit against the Defendants the County of Nassau (the "County Defendant"), the Incorporated Village of Garden City, and the Garden City Board of Trustees (collectively, the "Garden City Defendants"). Briefly, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants discriminatorily re-zoned two parcels of Nassau County-owned land that were located in Garden City to prevent the building of low- and middle-income housing on that site. The Plaintiffs further allege that this decision was part of a long-standing racially discriminatory policy

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maintained by the Defendants. Based on these allegations, the Plaintiffs assert claims pursuant to the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; 42 U.S.C. § 1982; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. In response, the Defendants deny any wrongdoing, and assert that they have no racially discriminatory policies. Six years have now passed since the suit's initial filing, and there have been dozens of depositions, the exchange of thousands of documents, expert analyses and thousands of hours of attorney time.

Now pending before the Court is a series of motions. First, both the County Defendant and the Garden City Defendants have separately moved, pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for summary judgment dismissing the entirety of both the Plaintiffs' amended complaint and the intervenor complaint. In addition, the Intervenor-Plaintiff New York Communities for Change, Inc. ("NYCC") has moved to amend its intervenor complaint to include an additional cause of action that was inadvertently omitted.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court has taken the facts described below from the parties' depositions, affidavits, exhibits, and respective Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts. Upon consideration of a motion for summary judgment, the Court shall construe the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Capobianco v. New York, 422 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir. 2001).

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A. Factual Background 1. The Parties

Vic DeVita is a white male who resides in Garden City, New York. (Garden City "GC" 56.1 ¶ 1.) Francine McCray is an African-American female who seeks affordable housing in a racially integrated and diverse area of Nassau County, including Garden City. (GC 56.1 ¶ 2.) The Plaintiff MHANY Management Inc. ("MHANY") is a non-profit community based developer of affordable housing incorporated in New York. (GC 56.1 ¶ 4.) MHANY was formerly known as New York ACORN Housing Company Inc. ("NYAHC"), which was previously a plaintiff in this action. The Intervenor-Plaintiff New York Communities for Change, Inc. ("NYCC") is a non-profit entity organized under the laws of the State of New York and formed in December 2009. (Nassau County "NC" 56.1 ¶ 4; GC 56.1 ¶ 6.) NYCC is the practical successor to another former plaintiff in this action, the New York Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now ("ACORN"). (NC 56.1 ¶ 6.)

Nassau County ("the County") is a municipal corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York. (NC 56.1 ¶ 1.) The Incorporated Village of Garden City ("Garden City") is a municipal corporation also organized under the laws of the State of New York and located in Nassau County. (NC 56.1 ¶ 2.) The Garden City Board of Trustees ("the Board") is an elected governing body in Garden City, from which the Garden City offices responsible for all development in Garden City derive their power. (NC 56.1 ¶ 3.)

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2. Affordable Housing Options in Nassau County

The Plaintiffs' expert Nancy McArdle, who conducted an analysis of racial change and segregation in Nassau County, reports that as of the year 2000, Nassau County was ranked in the top half of top 1% of all counties in the United States for segregation of African-Americans and in the top 10% of all such counties for segregation of Hispanics. (McArdle Decl. ¶ 6.) Specifically, the population of Nassau County in 2000 was 74% white, 10.3% African-American and 10% Hispanic. (Plaintiffs' Amended Statement of Additional Material Facts ("SAMF") ¶ 12.) Minorities comprised 14.8% of all households in Nassau County, but 31.1% of renter households, 41.4% of very low-income households, and 53.1% of non-elderly, very low-income households. (McArdle Decl. ¶ 49.) In Nassau County, family subsidized housing, which serves a predominantly minority population, tends to be located in high-minority areas, while senior citizen housing, which serves a much lower minority population, tends to be located in much lower minority areas. (McArdle Decl. ¶ 52.) Over half of the County's affordable housing units are located in municipalities with minority shares that are over three times the County average, while two-thirds of subsidized housing for senior citizens are located in municipalities with minority shares below the County average. (McArdle Decl. ¶ 53.)

While the County has a persistent need for affordable housing, the County has noted that "affordable housing sponsors are often confronted with strong neighborhood opposition to proposed low and moderate income developments." (SAMF ¶ 244.) The previous Deputy County Executive for Economic Development, Patrick Duggan, testified that "people who don't want people of different races living in their communities and local

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communities elect their elected officials to do the will of the people." (SAMF ¶ 245.) He further stated that "local municipalities have been demonstrated to use zoning to keep out — to use it as a way to keep people out." (Duggan Dep. at 107: 12-20.)

3. Affordable Housing Options in Garden City

Garden City has a population of approximately 21,750 individuals and has approximately 6,480 residences, of which approximately 1,095 are units contained in multi-family dwellings. (GC 56.1 ¶¶ 104-05.) Garden City's population is over 90% white. (SAMF ¶ 1.) As of the 2000 Census Report, minorities comprised 4.1% of the Garden City population, as opposed to 20.3% of the County's population. (McArdle Decl. at ¶ 17.) Between 1980 and 2000, the minority population of the County increased by 105%, while the minority population of Garden City increased by only 31.4%. (McArdle Decl. at ¶ 17.) It is important to note that according to the Plaintiffs' expert, 61% of the Village's African-American population was living in dormitories in 2000, and thus excluding this population significantly alters these statistics and perhaps paints a more realistic picture of Garden City's demographics. If one looked only at people living in households in 2000, and not in group quarters such as dormitories, the minority share of Garden City's population was just 2.6% of the population (versus the 4.1% above), as compared to 19.7% in the County (versus the 20.3% above).

To the east and south of Garden City are the municipalities of East Garden City, which in 2000 was 67% minority, Hempstead, which in 2000 was 84% minority, and Uniondale, which in 2000 was 79% minority. (SAMF ¶ 5.) In 2000, 2.3% of households in Garden City were headed by an African-American or Hispanic person, compared to

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15.3% of Nassau County households. (SAMF ¶ 7.) If minorities comprised the same share of Garden City households as they did of Nassau County households, Garden City would have 1,333 African-American or Hispanic households, versus the actual total of 167. (SAMF ¶ 9.) There are "no low- and moderate-income census tracts or block groups in the Village of Garden City." (SAMF ¶ 3.) None of the multi-family dwellings that Barbara K. Miller, the former mayor, identified in Garden City offer affordable housing as an option. (SAMF ¶ 168.) McArdle reported that...

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