The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently left open an interesting question that many religious land use applicants might be wondering: How much is too much when it comes to the cost of applying for land use permits from local government agencies?
In Guatay Christian Fellowship v. County of San Diego (Dec. 23, 2011, Case No. 09-56541), the Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000cc (“RLUIPA”) because the plaintiff had not actually submitted the application to the county. Such a ruling is consistent with RLUIPA case law that has developed around the nation.
More interestingly, the Ninth Circuit left open the question of whether the sheer cost of applying for a county use permit constituted a substantial burden, as defined under RLUIPA, on the church’s religious exercise. Because the plaintiff had not submitted the application, the Ninth Circuit did not rule directly on the issue in this case.
The religious land use attorneys of Dalton & Tomich are closely monitoring these potential changes in how federal courts both in California and across the country interpret RLUIPA and how it applies to religious organizations of all denominations. Stay tuned.
The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC have the experience and the knowledge to work with you to develop a legal solution that helps accomplish your goals. Our collaborative approach has helped leaders like you grow businesses and banks, develop and expand churches, and build nonprofit organizations nationwide.
In my role as Administrative Bishop for the Church of God, quite often we are faced with issues that involve local governments and municipalities. Many of these issues that arise in dealing with entities are land use related. I have found Dalton & Tomich’s experience and expertise in this area to be a valuable resource and asset in every situation.
Never one time during a year-long litigation process did Dalton & Tomich demonstrate anything other than Christ-like professionalism. They managed the legal details, while we continued to do church. How they managed themselves, managed our case, and represented our church set the table for me and our church to be where we are today.
Dalton & Tomich’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. Their personal interest in helping us went “above and beyond” just the call of duty.