Landlord's fight against development code's definition of 'family' headed to court
Steve Myers, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor last fall, is set to go to trial later this month in a case brought against him by the city-parish concerning the definition of "family" in the Unified Development Code and who can legally live in a rental homes in neighborhoods zoned for single-family residences.
Myers, who's also an attorney, landlord and real estate agent/broker, had requested a summary judgment in the case earlier this week. Judge Janice Clark denied that motion and set a trial for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the 19th JDC Courthouse in downtown Baton Rouge.
At issue is the definition of "family" as it relates to residences in the city-parish zoned A1 single family. Section 2.8 of the UDC defines "family" as "two or more persons who are related by blood, marriage or legal adoption." There's additional language in the definition, but that's the part that primarily concerns the Myers case, which dates back to a complaint filed against him in September 2011.
When a neighbor of one of Myers' rental properties near the LSU lakes complained to the city-parish that the A1-zoned home was being rented to several unrelated college students, Myers was subsequently ordered by the city-parish to "correct the violation" within 10 days or face a lawsuit. Myers has chosen to fight the lawsuit rather than evict his tenants.
Myers says the definition of "family" in the UDC is not only outdated—emphasizing it was adopted in 1954—but also runs afoul of the state and federal constitutions, and is in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.
"On Monday, Judge Janice Clark basically said she wants to hear witnesses in this case, particularly as it concerns the changing nature of the definition of 'family' since the ordinance was instituted," Myers says. "So there'll be testimony in that regard."
Myers, who garnered 2% of the vote in his mayoral bid, has posted many of the documents related to his case on the website that formerly housed his campaign messages here.
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