Parkside v. The City Of Farmers Branch, Civil Action No. 3:08-CV-1551-B

CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Texas
Writing for the CourtJANE J. BOYLE
PartiesVILLAS AT PARKSIDE PARTNERS d/b/a Villas at Parkside, et al., and Valentin Reyes, et al., Plaintiffs,v.The CITY OF FARMERS BRANCH, TEXAS, Defendant.
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 3:08-CV-1551-B,3:03-CV-1615.
Decision Date24 March 2010

701 F.Supp.2d 835

VILLAS AT PARKSIDE PARTNERS d/b/a Villas at Parkside, et al., and Valentin Reyes, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
The CITY OF FARMERS BRANCH, TEXAS, Defendant.

Civil Action Nos. 3:08-CV-1551-B, 3:03-CV-1615.

United States District Court,
N.D. Texas,
Dallas Division.

March 24, 2010.


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James S. Renard, C. Dunham Biles, Jack Gb. Ternan, Michael L. Smith, William A. Brewer, III, Bickel & Brewer, Dallas, TX, Henry L. Solano, Dewey & Leboeuf LLP, Omar C. Jadwat, ACLU Foundation Immigrants' Rights Project, New York, NY, Nina Perales, Diego Manuel Bernal, Marisol L. Perez, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc., San Antonio, TX, David Broiles, Law Offices of David Broiles, Fort Worth, TX, Dominic Valerian, Dewey & Leboeuf LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Lisa Graybill, ACLU Foundation of Texas, Austin, TX, Lucas Guttentag, Jennifer C. Newell, ACLU Foundation Immigrants' Rights Project, San Francisco, CA, for Plaintiffs.

Peter Michael Jung, Jadd F. Masso, William Trey C. Dowdy, III, Strasburger & Price, LLP, Dallas, TX, Kris W. Kobach, University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law, Kansas City, MO, Michael M. Hethmon, Washington, DC, Scott Shanes, Strasburger & Price, Frisco, TX, for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JANE J. BOYLE, District Judge.

In this lawsuit, two groups of plaintiffs bring pre-enforcement constitutional challenges to an ordinance enacted by the City of Farmers Branch, Texas (“City”) that establishes a residential licensing scheme under which the City would revoke the authorization to occupy rental housing for individuals that the federal government determined to be “not lawfully present” in the United States. Both of the plaintiff groups and the defendant City move for summary judgment. Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment and seek a permanent injunction on the grounds that the ordinance is invalid pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the Constitution, and that it violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Defendant City moves for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the ordinance, and that the ordinance is a valid and constitutional exercise of municipal authority. Because each motion depends on the same factual background and resolution of common questions of law, the Court will consider them together. Before the Court are (1) Reyes Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (doc. 92), (2) Defendant City's motion for summary judgment (doc. 93), and (3) Villas Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (doc. 96). Upon consideration of the motions and evidence in support, together with arguments, filings and objections of counsel, the Court finds, as a matter of law, that the landlord and tenant plaintiffs have established standing to challenge the ordinance, and that the ordinance is invalid

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under the Supremacy Clause. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part each motion as fully described below.
I.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The City of Farmers Branch is a home rule municipality in Dallas County, Texas located approximately fifteen miles northwest of Dallas, Texas. On January 22, 2008, the City adopted Ordinance 2952 1 (the “Ordinance”), which conditions residence in rental housing within the City on obtaining a residential occupancy license issued by the City's building inspector. The Ordinance declares that the residential occupancy licenses are the type of license or local public benefit for which aliens not lawfully present in the United States are ineligible. (Ord. 2952, Preamble). While the building inspector is required to issue a residential occupancy license to all who complete the application and pay the required five dollar fee, he is required-for any applicant who does not declare himself or herself to be a citizen or national of the United States-to verify with the federal government pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1373(c) “whether the occupant is an alien lawfully present in the United States.” (Ord. 2952(D)(1)). The Ordinance further sets forth procedures for the building inspector to revoke the residential occupancy license for any alien the federal government determines to be not lawfully present in the United States.2


A. The City's Prior Enactments

Ordinance 2952 is the third enactment by the City touching on rental property and illegal immigration, and it follows previous efforts by the City Council to discourage illegal immigration and mitigate its perceived costs. Plaintiffs contend that the context of Ordinance 2952's enactment demonstrates the City's intent to regulate immigration, and argue that statements made by city officials during the series of enactments demonstrate an intent to discriminate against Latinos in Farmers Branch. ( See doc. 102, pp. 3-5, 41-45; doc. 97, pp. 3-4). The City contends instead that this background evidences an intent to support the objectives of federal immigration law and to return the rule of law to a market traditionally regulated by the states in a way that addresses the secondary effects of illegal immigration. (doc. 114, pp. 31, 36). The Court includes those facts that are either undisputed or a matter of public record.

The series of enactments leading to Ordinance 2952 began with Resolution 2006-099, adopted by the City Council on September 5, 2006. Resolution 2006-099 expressed concern and frustration at the United States government's “failing in the enforcement of the Immigration Act as it relates to the influx of illegal aliens,” encouraged the federal government to enforce the immigration laws, and noted that the City was “reviewing the role the City can take to support and enforce the United States immigration laws” with an aim towards taking “whatever steps it legally can

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to respond to the legitimate concerns of [its] citizens.” (Pl. App. pp. 46-49).

On November 13, 2006, the City adopted Ordinance 2892, its first attempt to regulate the rental housing market in Farmers Branch with reference to federal immigration standards. Ordinance 2892 directed that “the owner and/or property manager shall require as a prerequisite to entering into any lease or rental arrangement ... the submission of evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status for each tenant family.” (doc. 99, Pl.'s Appx. 0041-0043). That ordinance incorporated the classification system set forth in HUD regulations that govern eligibility of non-citizens for housing assistance and required applicants to submit a citizenship or immigration status certification based on the distinctions and definitions provided in 24 CFR 5. ( Id.). Also on November 13, 2006, the City Council adopted Resolution 2006-130, which declared English to be the official language of the City of Farmers Branch. ( Id. at pp. 0045-0048).

Implementation of Ordinance 2892 was enjoined in state court on January 9, 2007 for concerns related to the Texas Open Meetings Act. On January 22, 2007, the City Council adopted Ordinance 2903, which repealed Ordinance 2892 but proposed substantially similar requirements for residential rental in the City (also dependent upon HUD regulations), and called for an election to allow the voters of Farmers Branch to vote for or against the measure. ( Id. at pp. 0057-0065). On May 12, 2007, Farmers Branch voters overwhelmingly approved Ordinance 2903 by a margin of 4,058 “for” and 1,941 “against,” and it was to go in effect on May 22, 2007. A group of plaintiffs that included both owners of apartment complexes and residential tenants challenged the constitutionality of Ordinance 2903 in this court on claims broadly similar to those advanced in the present case. Judge Lindsay of this Court temporarily enjoined the enforcement of Ordinance 2903 on May 21, 2007.3 After discovery and hearing, the Court permanently enjoined its enforcement on May 28, 2008, finding that Ordinance 2903 was a “regulation of immigration” invalidated by the Supremacy Clause and that it violated the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it was void for vagueness. The Court's reasoning and a description of ordinance 2903 can be found in Judge Lindsay's published opinion, Villas at Parkside Partners, et al. v. Farmers Branch, 577 F.Supp.2d 858, 871, 876 (N.D.Tex.2008).


B. Ordinance 2952

On January 22, 2008 and in attempt to address concerns raised in the litigation over Ordinance 2903, the City adopted the measure now before the Court, Ordinance 2952.4 While still establishing a residential occupancy licensing scheme, Ordinance 2952 no longer depends on the HUD regulations relied upon by its predecessors, and it expressly reserves the determination of an applicant's lawful presence or immigration status to the federal government instead of deputizing landlords or local officials. Ordinance 2952 was to go in effect on September 13, 2008. The residential licensing scheme set forth in Ordinance 2952 amends Chapter 26 of the Code of Ordinances of Farmers Branch that regulates

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single-family rental housing in the City as more fully described below.
i. Ordinance 2952's Reliance on Federal Law

The Ordinance is tethered to federal immigration law in several key respects, including its definitions and its source of authority to create what it characterizes to be local benefits that may be properly restricted to those lawfully present in the United States. The Preamble to Ordinance 2952 begins with reference to 8 U.S.C. 1101, et seq., noting that the statute, together with other federal authority, sets forth the requirements for an alien to be “lawfully present” in the United States. (Ord. 2952, Preamble). On the premise that those not lawfully present in the United States are, as a matter of law, not lawfully present in the City of Farmers Branch, the...

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19 practice notes
  • Nat'l Solid Wastes Mgmt. Ass'n v. City of Dall., Civil Action No. 3:11–cv–3200–O.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • October 16, 2012
    ...and (4) that granting the injunction is not adverse to the public interest. Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 701 F.Supp.2d 835, 859 (N.D.Tex.2010) (citing Harris Cnty. v. CarMax Auto Superstores, Inc., 177 F.3d 306, 312 (5th Cir.1999)). The decision to grant or deny pe......
  • United States v. Alabama, Case No. 2:11–CV–2746–SLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • September 28, 2011
    ...citizens that conflict with the purposes and objectives of Congress. See Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, Tex., 701 F.Supp.2d 835, 859 (N.D.Tex.2010). H.B. 56 § 13 seeks to regulate the same subject matter covered by 8 U.S.C. § 1324; however, in doing so, it criminaliz......
  • Cent. Ala. Fair Hous. Ctr. v. Magee, Civil Action No. 2:11cv982–MHT.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • December 12, 2011
    ...7United States v. Alabama, 813 F.Supp.2d 1282 (N.D.Ala.2011) (Blackburn, J.); Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 701 F.Supp.2d 835 (N.D.Tex.2010) (Boyle, J.) (“ Farmers Branch II ”); Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 577 F.Supp.2d 858 (N.D.Tex.2008) ......
  • U.S.A v. Church, Case No. 3:09-cr-00042.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • April 5, 2010
    ...Defendant's offense of possession of child pornography, as Congress has, for over three decades, legislated against child pornography, 701 F.Supp.2d 835 United States v. Morace, 594 F.3d 340, 350 (4th Cir.2010), and there is “ample evidence of Congress's intent that offenses involving child......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Nat'l Solid Wastes Mgmt. Ass'n v. City of Dall., Civil Action No. 3:11–cv–3200–O.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • October 16, 2012
    ...and (4) that granting the injunction is not adverse to the public interest. Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 701 F.Supp.2d 835, 859 (N.D.Tex.2010) (citing Harris Cnty. v. CarMax Auto Superstores, Inc., 177 F.3d 306, 312 (5th Cir.1999)). The decision to grant or deny pe......
  • United States v. Alabama, Case No. 2:11–CV–2746–SLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • September 28, 2011
    ...citizens that conflict with the purposes and objectives of Congress. See Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, Tex., 701 F.Supp.2d 835, 859 (N.D.Tex.2010). H.B. 56 § 13 seeks to regulate the same subject matter covered by 8 U.S.C. § 1324; however, in doing so, it criminaliz......
  • Cent. Ala. Fair Hous. Ctr. v. Magee, Civil Action No. 2:11cv982–MHT.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • December 12, 2011
    ...7United States v. Alabama, 813 F.Supp.2d 1282 (N.D.Ala.2011) (Blackburn, J.); Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 701 F.Supp.2d 835 (N.D.Tex.2010) (Boyle, J.) (“ Farmers Branch II ”); Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 577 F.Supp.2d 858 (N.D.Tex.2008) ......
  • U.S.A v. Church, Case No. 3:09-cr-00042.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • April 5, 2010
    ...Defendant's offense of possession of child pornography, as Congress has, for over three decades, legislated against child pornography, 701 F.Supp.2d 835 United States v. Morace, 594 F.3d 340, 350 (4th Cir.2010), and there is “ample evidence of Congress's intent that offenses involving child......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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