Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 6, 2019

CA Appeals Court Finds Urgency Ordinance Imposing Temporary Moratorium on Charter Schools was Invalid

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

The City of Huntington Park enacted and extended an urgency ordinance that imposed a temporary moratorium on charter schools while it considered amending its zoning code. The California Charter Schools Association petitioned for writ of mandate seeking an order directing Huntington Park to invalidate approval of the ordinance on the ground it violated the Planning and Zoning Law. The trial court entered judgment denying the petition and the Association appealed.
On appeal, Huntington Park argued that this appeal was moot because ordinance 2016-950 extending the moratorium already expired by its own terms while the appeal was in the briefing stage. The court found that even if technically moot, an appeal may be decided when, as here, “the issue ordinarily arises in controversies that are so short lived as to evade normal appellate review.”
As no actual development applications were pending when Huntington Park enacted the ordinance, the Association argued no current and immediate threat of a new charter school application approval existed to justify the use of the police power; thus, Huntington Park exceeded its authority in adopting the ordinance. The court interpreted the phrase “current and immediate threat” as meaning that the approval of an entitlement or use was imminent, and so mere inquiries, requests, and meetings about a use did not meet the definition. Specifically, the court found that if processing a filed application did not pose a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety, or welfare because no rights will vest imminently, then mere inquiries, requests, and meetings, preliminary to submitting a CUP application, could not possibly present that threat. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed, and the court held that the ordinance was invalid.
California Charter School Association v City of Huntington Park, 2019 WL 2137545 (CA App. 4/25/2019)

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