Outdoor Media Group, Inc. v. City of Beaumont

Decision Date30 June 2005
Docket NumberNo. 03-1461 RT (SGLX).,03-1461 RT (SGLX).
Citation374 F.Supp.2d 881
PartiesOUTDOOR MEDIA GROUP, INC., and Chance Outdoor, LLC, Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF BEAUMONT et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Central District of California

Jeffrey A. Tidus and Henry Gonzales of Baute and Tidus, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiffs Outdoor Media Group and Chance Outdoor.

Joseph S. Aklufi of Aklufi and Wysocki, Michael A. Bell of Bell Orrock and Watase, Riverside CA, Randal R. Morrison of Sabine and Morrison, San Diego, CA, and Timothy T. Coates of Greines, Martin, Stein and Richland, Los Angeles, CA, for Defendant City of Beaumont.

ORDER (1) GRANTING DEFENDANT CITY OF BEAUMONT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, RULE 12(b)(6); and (2) DISMISSING THIS ACTION.

TIMLIN, District Judge.

The court, Judge Robert J. Timlin, has read and considered defendant City of Beaumont ("City")'s motion to dismiss the complaint of plaintiffs Outdoor Media Group, Inc., and Chance Outdoor, LLC (collectively, "Plaintiffs")s' pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 12(b)(6) ("Rule 12(b)(6)"), Plaintiffs' opposition, and City's reply. Based on such consideration, the court concludes as follows:

I.

BACKGROUND1

Plaintiffs lease billboards to the public throughout Southern California. The billboards are typically located on property leased by Plaintiffs.

On May 22, 2003, Plaintiffs filed a conditional use permit ("CUP") application to erect four billboards in City. On July 8, 2003, City's Director of Planning recommended that the City Planning Commission deny the CUP because: (1) it was anticipated that the subject site would be part of a larger regional commercial development in the future; (2) it would result in an excessive, undue, and adverse visual intrusion of the area; and (3) it would adversely affect existing views of open space and visual relief and future views of new commercial development. The City Planning Commission denied Plaintiffs' CUP application.

On July 10, 2003, Plaintiffs filed an appeal with the City Council. On September 16, 2003, the City Counsel rejected Plaintiffs' appeal.

On December 12, 2003, Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that City deprived them of their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). They contend: (1) City, in exercising its discretion to deny the CUP application, acted in an arbitrary and illogical manner; (2) City had no reasonable basis to deny the application; and (3) City's sign ordinance was unconstitutionally vague and gave City officials unfettered discretion in determining whether a sign is subject to any provision of the sign ordinance. Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief declaring the sign ordinance unconstitutional facially and as applied, and injunctive relief barring City from preventing and interfering with Plaintiffs' erecting offsite signs in the industrial and commercial zones of City. Plaintiffs also pray for damages.

On February 4, 2004, City enacted an Urgency Ordinance that repealed and replaced the ordinance which is the subject of Plaintiffs' action. The Urgency Ordinance materially changed the repealed ordinance: it completely prohibited new billboards. On March 16, 2004, City enacted Ordinance 856 which is almost identical to the Urgency Ordinance. It became effective on April 15, 2004.

City has filed the instant motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). City contends that Plaintiffs' claims seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages are moot and are barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

II.

REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

City requested that this court take judicial notice of the following documents, presented as exhibits to the request for notice:

A. Former Beaumont Municipal Code Chapter 17.60 ("Chapter 17.60");

B. Ordinance No. 854 repealing Chapter 17.60 of the Beaumont Municipal Code and adopting as an Urgency Ordinance Chapter 17.61 of the Beaumont Municipal Code; C. Ordinance No. 856, repealing Chapter 17.60 of the Beaumont Municipal Code and adopting Ordinance Chapter 17.61 of the Beaumont Municipal Code.

D. Chapter 17.70 of the Beaumont Municipal Code.

Plaintiffs requested that this court take judicial notice of the City's Director of Planning's July 8, 2003, Staff Report on Conditional Use Permit No. 03-CUP-06.

The court grants both Defendants' and Plaintiffs' requests.

III.

ANALYSIS
A. Legal Standard Governing a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

Under Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal can be based on either a "lack of a cognizable legal theory" or "the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.1988). A court may not consider evidence outside the pleadings in connection with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), except for matters of which it takes judicial notice. See Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n. 19 (9th Cir.1990). In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, as well as any reasonable inferences drawn from them. Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir.2003). A complaint should be dismissed if the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts to support a claim that would merit relief. Nursing Home Pension Fund, Local 144 v. Oracle Corp., 380 F.3d 1226, 1229 (9th Cir.2004).

B. Discussion
1. Mootness — Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Generally, a federal court has no authority "to give opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the matter in issue in the case before it." Church of Scientology v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12, 113 S.Ct. 447, 121 L.Ed.2d 313 (1992) (citation omitted). The basic question in determining mootness is whether effective relief can be granted. See Northwest Envtl. Def. Ctr. v. Gordon, 849 F.2d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir.1988) (citations omitted). Courts have found effective relief can be granted where the defendant's conduct constitutes an allegedly illegal practice and the defendant voluntarily ceases such conduct but is free to resume it at any time. Native Village of Noatak v. Blatchford, 38 F.3d 1505, 1509 (9th Cir.1994) (citations omitted). However, a statutory change by the legislative body of a defendant public entity usually renders a case moot even if the legislature has the power to "reenact the statute after the lawsuit is dismissed." Id. Therefore, as a general rule, if a challenged law is repealed or expires, the case becomes moot. See id. (citing Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361, 363, 107 S.Ct. 734, 93 L.Ed.2d 732 (1987) (bill expired during pendency of appeal, rendering moot question of whether president's pocket veto prevented bill from becoming law); United States Dep't of Treasury v. Galioto, 477 U.S. 556, 559-60, 106 S.Ct. 2683, 91 L.Ed.2d 459 (1986) (amendment to federal statute rendered case moot); Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 129, 97 S.Ct. 1709, 52 L.Ed.2d 184 (1977) (statute providing for commitment of minors repealed, rendering case of named appellants moot); Bunker Ltd. P'ship v. United States, 820 F.2d 308, 312 (9th Cir.1987) (new legislation which superseded prior law rendered arguments based on superseded law moot)).

City contends that Plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are moot because the challenged sign ordinance has been repealed and a new and different ordinance has been enacted by City. Ordinance No. 856 superceded Chapter 17.60. City asserts that Plaintiffs' requested relief that the court invalidate and enjoin enforcement of Chapter 17.60, which no longer is in force, is moot. Native Vill. of Noatak, 38 F.3d at 1509. For the court to declare Chapter 17.60 invalid and to enjoin its enforcement would be an idle judicial act because the City is no longer enforcing it. To adjudicate the constitutionality of Chapter 17.60 would conflict with the Court's holding in Church of Scientology, which prohibits opinions upon moot questions. 506 U.S. at 12, 113 S.Ct. 447.

Plaintiffs argue that its claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are not moot because City failed to demonstrate that its unconstitutional conduct will not recur. Plaintiffs cite two Supreme Court cases in support of its position: City of Mesquite v. Aladdin's Castle, 455 U.S. 283, 289, 102 S.Ct. 1070, 71 L.Ed.2d 152 (1982) and Northeastern Fla. Chapter of Associated Gen. Contractors of Am. v. City of Jacksonville, 508 U.S. 656, 661, 113 S.Ct. 2297, 124 L.Ed.2d 586 (1993). Contrary to Plaintiffs' interpretation of these two cases, courts have interpreted these cases as standing for the proposition that a challenge to a repealed statute should not be dismissed on standing grounds where there is evidence that the repeal was not genuine. Federation of Advertising, Industry Representatives, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 326 F.3d 924, 930 (7th Cir.2003). In Aladdin's Castle, although the City had repealed the challenged ordinance, the Court declined to find the case moot because the City announced to the Court its intention to reenact the provision if the case was dismissed. Id.; 455 U.S. at 289 n. 11, 102 S.Ct. 1070. Similarly, in Northeastern Florida, the Court held that repeal did not moot the case because the City already replaced the repealed ordinance with one that was substantially similar, causing the Court to conclude "there is no mere risk that Jacksonville will repeat its allegedly wrongful conduct; it has already done so." Id.; 508 U.S. at 662.

The Ninth Circuit expressly adopted a narrow interpretation of Aladdin's Castle and Northeastern Florida in Native Village of Noatak. In Native Village of Noatak, the Ninth...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Covenant Media, Cal. v. City, Huntington Park, Ca
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Central District of California
    • July 18, 2005
    ...See id. at 1121-22. Another court in this district has recently questioned that conclusion. See Outdoor Media Group, Inc. v. City of Beaumont, 374 F.Supp.2d 881, 883 (C.D.Cal. June 30, 2005) ("State law governs vesting of property rights in the context of government permits for land use..........
  • Outdoor Media Group Inc. & Chance Outdoor Llc. v. City Of Beaumont
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Central District of California
    • July 6, 2010
    ...new sign ordinance, the City then moved to dismiss on mootness grounds Plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety. On June 30, 2005, 374 F.Supp.2d 881 (C.D.Cal.2005), this Court granted the City's motion. The Court specifically held that Plaintiffs' requests for declaratory and injunctive relief......
  • Covenant Media of Ill. v. City of Des Plaines
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • March 7, 2007
    ...permits are privileges from which no vested property rights attach) (citations and quotations omitted); Outdoor Media Group, Inc. v. City of Beaumont, 374 F.Supp.2d 881 (C.D.Cal. 2005) (plaintiff who had not obtained billboard permit had no claim for damages because under California law bil......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT