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Contasti v. City of Solana Beach

November 10, 2009

ANDREW CONTASTI, ANNETTE CONTASTI AND JOE HERNANDEZ, INDIVIDUALS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF SOLANA BEACH, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge

ORDER

The matter before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss the Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ("Motion to Dismiss"), filed by Defendant City of Solana Beach ("City"). (Doc. # 5).

I. Background

On June 25, 2009, Plaintiffs initiated this action by filing the "Complaint for Damages [42 U.S.C. § 1983]" ("Complaint"). (Doc. # 1).

A. Allegations of the Complaint

Plaintiffs are the owners of two adjoining residential lots (Lots "9" and "10") located at 360 North Granados Avenue, Solana Beach. In February 2007, Plaintiffs applied for building permits (called "Development Review Permits" and "Structure Development Permits") to build a 4,031 square foot two-story dwelling on Lot 9, and a 4,387 square foot two-story dwelling on Lot 10. (Compl. ¶ 11). On July 11, 2007, the City conducted a public hearing on Plaintiff's applications for building permits on Lot 9 and Lot 10.

1. Lot 9

On July 11, 2007, the City's engineering and planning staff recommended approval of Plaintiffs' Lot 9 application. At the July 11, 2007 hearing, the City's Mayor and City Council requested Plaintiff Andrew Contasti ("Contasti") to reduce the square footage of the home proposed for Lot 9 by 230 square feet. "Contasti agreed at the hearing to this reduction." (Compl. ¶ 19). "After the July 11 hearing, Contasti submitted revised drawings for Lot 9, reducing the square footage for the proposed Lot 9 home by 256 square feet (instead of the Council-recommended 230 square feet). The permits for Lot 9, based on these revised drawings, were approved by the City." (Compl. ¶ 20). City Resolution 2007-108, "supporting the approval of the home on Lot 9," found that "'[t]he proposed single-family residence is designed in a manner that is compatible with other nearby development because the proposed use is the same as other nearby single-family residences.'" (Compl. ¶ 27).

2. Lot 10

On July 11, 2007, the City's engineering and planning staff recommended approval of the Lot 10 application.

At the same July 11 hearing, the City Council, notwithstanding the compliance of the proposed Lot 10 home with all City regulations, indicated that it wanted the square footage of the proposed home reduced. However, the Council did not allow Contasti to agree at the hearing to a reduction of the square footage for Lot 10 as it had for Lot 9. Nor did the City Council give Contasti any guidance about the amount of square footage it wanted reduced. Instead, the City Council advised Contasti to 'take his best shot' in submitting a reduced square-footage home. (Compl. ¶ 23). After the July 11, 2007 hearing, "Contasti caused his project designer to redesign the Lot 10 home by reducing the square footage by 258.25 square feet. Revised drawings reflecting this reduced square footage were submitted to the City." (Compl. ¶ 24). At a September 19, 2007 hearing, "the City denied plaintiffs' proposed home on Lot 10." (Compl. ¶ 26).

City Resolution 2007-125, "supporting the denial of the home on Lot 10," states: "'The proposed single-family residence is designed in a manner that is incompatible with other nearby residences because it is not compatible with existing or potential future single family development.'" (Compl. ¶ 28). "This ground for denial is both tautological and arbitrary because there is no reason given for alleged incompatibility with 'nearby residences.'" Id. The Resolution states that "'Adverse effects upon neighboring properties have been identified from this development.'" Id. "No such adverse effects are identified, other than square footage comparisons with surrounding fifty-year-old properties." Id.

The council concluded by finding that the proposed residence 'is approximately 387 square feet larger than the maximum size of future residences in the area analyzed.' The alleged incompatibility of a single-family residence in a single-family zoning district that complies with then-applicable maximum square footage limits is an arbitrary and unreasonable conclusion. The reference to 'maximum size of future residences' apparently refers to Ordinance No. 357.

As the planning staff noted: 'The proposed project is not subject to Ordinance No. 357 because it [the project application] was deemed complete prior to the ordinance effective date of March 24, 2007 (project deemed complete as of February 24, 2007).' To the extent that the City sought to impose a later-adopted ...


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