The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich begin a federal jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego Tuesday in a suit that pits their client, an all-girls Catholic high school, against the City of San Diego.
The Academy of Our Lady of Peace is suing the City of San Diego in relation to the City Council’s March 2009 decision to deny two permits the Academy needed in order to complete a project to modernize its historic 80-year-old campus. OLP is the only all-girls, Catholic school in the entire county. Without the permits, the Academy is unable to modernize its campus in order to offer more classes necessary to gain admittance to colleges and universities. The decision of the City Council has also substantially burdened the Academy’s 350-year-old religious mission of educating young women in the Catholic faith.
OLP retained Dalton & Tomich last year and has charged the City with violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), as well as the Equal Protection Clause under both the U.S. and California constitutions. The school also sought review of the City Council decision under the state writ procedure.
Through depositions and additional discovery, attorneys for Dalton & Tomich learned that while all City staff and Planning Commissioners approved of OLP’s Modernization Plan, one City Councilmember led the charge to deny the permits to appease constituent complaints instead of following the law. In denying the permits, the City Council took the nearly unprecedented step of reversing the unanimous approval of the Planning Commission. The City has argued that the project permits were denied in order to comply with state environmental laws. After extensive discovery, the case culminates in a two-week jury trial beginning Tuesday.
The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC specialize in handling complex land use litigation around the nation, and in particular RLUIPA claims. If you believe your constitutional rights have been infringed with regard to land use or permitting matters, please contact Dalton & Tomich, PLC. The firm has handled similar legal matters in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, and California.
Please return over the coming days for updates on the trial and its outcome.