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Fishing Rock Owners' Ass'n, Inc. v. Roberts

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 18, 2014

FISHING ROCK OWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID ROBERTS and SHARON ROBERTS, Defendants

Page 1133

For Fishing Rock Owners Association, Inc., Plaintiff: Kyle T. Abraham, Hart Wagner, LLP, Portland, OR; Edwin A. Harnden, Barran Liebman LLP, Portland, OR.

For David Roberts, Sharon Roberts, David Roberts, Sharon Roberts, Defendants: Russell D Bevans, LEAD ATTORNEY, Eugene, OR; Christopher D. Bevans, Bevans & Cooper LLC, Eugene, OR.

For Sharon Roberts, David Roberts, Counter Claimants: Russell D Bevans, LEAD ATTORNEY, Eugene, OR; Christopher D. Bevans, Bevans & Cooper LLC, Eugene, OR.

For David Roberts, Sharon Roberts, Counter Defendants: Russell D Bevans, LEAD ATTORNEY, Eugene, OR; Christopher D. Bevans, Bevans & Cooper LLC, Eugene, OR.

OPINION

Page 1134

OPINION AND ORDER

Ann Aiken, Chief United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Fishing Rock Owners' Association (" the Association" ) filed a complaint in Lincoln County Circuit Court seeking a declaratory judgment to enforce the covenants and restrictions prohibiting commercial activities within the Fishing Rock subdivision. Defendants David Roberts and Sharon Roberts (" the Roberts" ) removed the Association's claims to federal court and filed three counterclaims alleging disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act (" FHA" ) (codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (" FHAA" ), and Or. Rev. Stat. § 659A.145, and seeking a declaratory judgment that the Rules and Regulations recently adopted by the Association are null and void. The Association now moves under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 for summary judgment on all three of the Roberts' counterclaims. The motion is granted and the case remanded to state court.

I. BACKGROUND

The Association is a homeowner's association responsible for ensuring that all real property within the Fishing Rock subdivision located in Depoe Bay, Oregon complies with the recorded Fishing Rock Protective Covenants and Restrictions (" CC& Rs" ) and Rules & Regulations.

The Roberts own three adjacent lots within the Fishing Rock subdivision, one with a residence and two that are vacant. At the time the Roberts purchased their property, Article 5.1 of the CC& Rs imposed use restrictions on all lots; it allowed residential and recreational uses and prohibited commercial activities of any kind. Roberts Dep. 31:19-22 (attached as Exhibit A to Abrahams Decl.). The CC& Rs also allowed the construction of two-car garages and two additional parking spaces in the driveway.

Despite the CC& Rs, the Roberts routinely parked up to seven vehicles on or around their properties. Roberts Dep. 69:16-19; Ex. 10. By September 2008, the Roberts knew that the Association was proposing to adopt new, more restrictive parking rules in the subdivision. Roberts Dep. 53:5-19, 60:2-14; Ex. 6.

In February 2009, the Roberts mentioned to the Association's attorney that they desired to operate a drug rehabilitation facility out of their home at Fishing Rock. Roberts Dep. 102:3-20, 103:17-20.

Page 1135

On approximately March 9, 2011, the Roberts again advised the Association that they intended to open and operate an out-patient drug rehabilitation home for recovering alcoholics and drug users. Roberts Decl. at 2-3.

On April 17 and September 27, 2011, Mr. Roberts sent letters to the Association inquiring about his request for a " reasonable accommodation" for his group home. Roberts Dep. Ex. 19-20. However, Mr. Roberts never specified the reasonable accommodation he sought. See id.; Roberts Dep. 124:16-20.

On May 1, 2011, after Mr. Roberts' first letter, the Association adopted new Parking Rules and Regulations reflecting the 2008 proposed changes. Lentz Decl. at ¶ 6. The Rules prohibit the prolonged parking of a vehicle on any common property or Private Way, and also limit vehicle parking on individual lots to the garage or directly in front of the garage. Lentz Decl. Ex. A, at ¶ 2-3.

On October 19, 2011, the Association's attorney responded to Mr. Roberts' written inquiries, indicating that Mr. Roberts had not provided enough information for the Association to review his request for accommodation. The attorney also asked Mr. Roberts to provide relevant licencing materials and certifications he had received to operate a group rehabilitation home so that the Association could review the documents and ensure compliance with state and federal laws. Roberts Dep. Ex. 24. Mr. Roberts did not provide the Association with any of the requested information. Roberts Dep. 143:21-25.

On or about March 2012, the Roberts began advertising their proposed drug rehabilitation home via the internet, a billboard, and in the windows of their vacant Fishing Rock residence they intended to use for the rehabilitation home. Roberts Decl. at 6.

On April 27, 2012, the Association filed a complaint against the Roberts in Lincoln County Circuit Court. The Association seeks a declaratory judgment that the Roberts had violated the CC& Rs and an injunction enjoining the Roberts from operating a business enterprise on their Fishing Rock property and requiring the Roberts to comply with the CC& Rs. Alternatively, the Association seeks an award of monetary damages in the event that injunctive relief was denied.

The Roberts subsequently removed the Association's action to federal court based on the artful pleading doctrine and their federal counterclaims. The Roberts deny that Article 5.1 of the CC& Rs can prohibit them from using their Fishing Rock property as a group home for recovering alcoholics and drug users and allege that such restriction is made null and void under ...


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