Monday, August 08, 2016

Court Says Questions Remain In Private Foundation's RLUIPA Claim Against City

In Daniel & Francine Scinto Foundation v. City of Orange, (CD CA, Aug. 3, 2016), a California federal district court denied a motion by plaintiff for summary judgment in a suit claiming that the city of Orange, California violated RLUIPA by failing to keep adequate records about a building owned by plaintiff and rented by plaintiff to a church.  The tenant-- the Breath of Life Spirit Ministries-- moved out after months of negotiations with the city over potential Fire Code violations. The court said in part:
Even if the Court assumes (without deciding) that renting to a religious institution constitutes religious exercise under RIULPA, the Court cannot conclude Plaintiff has shown “the City’s land use regulation . . . imposed a substantial burden on its religious exercise.”
Moving to plaintiff's argument under the "equal terms" provision of RLUIPA, the court concluded that a dispute of material fact remains as to whether a Section 509(a)(3) private foundation constitutes a "religious assembly or institution" for purposes of RLUIPA.