Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Tenth Street Residential Association v. City of Dallas

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

June 25, 2019




         This Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses Defendant the City of Dallas, Texas's (“the City”) motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction [18]. 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.

         I. Origins of the Dispute

          This 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.

         The 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 Landmark Commission.

         TSRA is 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.

         TSRA 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).

         In an 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).

         II. 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. 2006)).

         A plaintiff must satisfy three elements to establish constitutional standing:

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).

         Plaintiff 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, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.