United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. GODBEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses Defendant the City of
Dallas, Texas's (“the City”) motion to
dismiss for lack of jurisdiction . Because the Court
holds that Plaintiff Tenth Street Residential Association
(“TSRA”) does not have standing to pursue its
claims, the Court grants the City's motion.
Origins of the Dispute
case is about the City's procedures for demolishing
dilapidated structures in historic districts. Two policies
outlined in Section 51A-4.501 of the Dallas Development Code
are at issue. The first allows the City Attorney's Office
to seek a court order declaring a structure to be a public
nuisance and ordering its demolition. Dallas Development Code
§ 51A-4.501(i) (“section 4.501(i)”). If the
City obtains the court order, it must then file an
application with the Landmark Commission seeking a
certificate of demolition. Only after the Landmark Commission
finds that postponing the demolition in the hopes of
rehabilitation is not feasible can the City demolish the
structure. Importantly, this policy applies only to
structures under 3, 000 square feet.
second procedure allows the City to demolish any structure -
regardless of its size - if the Fire Marshall finds it to be
in a particularly dangerous and hazardous condition. Dallas
Development Code § 51A-4.501(j) (“section
4.501(j)”). This process is termed summary abatement,
and does not require a court order or certificate from the
an unincorporated association whose members are owner
occupants of residential units in the Tenth Street Historic
District (“the District”). Its primary mission is
to preserve the historic homes and status of the District.
Some eighty (80) homes in the District have been demolished
under section 4.501(i). TSRA believes that because all of the
structures in the District are under 3, 000 square feet, and
most of the District's residents belong to protected
classes, that the City's application of section 4.501(i)
makes housing unavailable on the basis of race and ethnicity.
also takes issue with the City's tax exemption program
for residents who rehabilitate structures in historic
districts. Under the program, different historic districts
are assigned different eligibility requirements and exemption
values. In the District, owners become eligible to receive an
exemption from City property taxes worth 100% of the
property's value if they invest at least 25% of the
property's initial value in rehabilitation. In more
affluent districts, owners have to invest 50% - 75% of the
initial value of the structure to receive the exemption. In
every district, however, so long as the owners meet the
eligibility requirement and completes the rehabilitation,
they receive the exemption. TSRA believes that basing the
value of the exemption on property values creates a
disincentive for residents of the District to rehabilitate
their homes. It argues that this disincentive contributes to
the discriminatory unavailability of housing directly caused
by section 4.501(i).
effort to stall the City's application of section
4.501(i) and reform its tax exemption program, TSRA filed
suit in this Court in January 2019. Three months later, it
filed an amended complaint alleging violations under the Fair
Housing Act and Equal Protection Clause. The City now moves
to dismiss TSRA's claims for lack of jurisdiction under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).
The Rule 12(b)(1) Standard
“A federal court's entertaining a case that is not
within its subject matter jurisdiction is no mere technical
violation; it is nothing less than an unconstitutional
usurpation of state judicial power.” Charles Alan
Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 3522 (3d
ed. 2019). Standing is a component of subject matter
jurisdiction and is properly raised by a motion to dismiss
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under rule 12(b)(1).
See Hollis v. Lynch, 121 F.Supp.3d 617, 626
(N.D. Tex. 2015) (“whether a party has proper standing
is a question of subject matter jurisdiction”) (citing
Cobb v. Cent. States, 461 F.3d 632, 635 (5th Cir.
plaintiff must satisfy three elements to establish
First, the plaintiff must have suffered an injury in fact -
an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a)
concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not
conjectural or hypothetical. Second there must be a casual
connection between the injury and the conduct complained of -
the injury has to be fairly traceable to the challenged
action of the defendant, and not the result of the
independent action of some third party not before the court.
Third, it must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative,
that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61
(1992) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
groups like TSRA may attempt to satisfy Lujan's
requirements using either associational or organizational
standing theories. To succeed on an associational standing
theory, TSRA must show that its individual members meet the
Lujan standing requirements; that is, that its
members suffered a concrete and discrete injury at the hand
of the City that can be redressed by the Court.
N.A.A.C.P. v. City of Kyle, Tex., 626 F.3d 233, 237
(5th Cir. 2010). In contrast, to establish organizational
standing, TSRA must show that it, as an organization,
satisfies the Lujan requirements. Id. at
238. Importantly, the alleged injury must “constitute
far more than simply a setback to the organization's
abstract social interests . . . .” Id. (citing
Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 379
(1982). Instead, ...