Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lawsuit Planned

I just received the following in my email this evening. I will leave it to the individual organizing the suit to identify him/herself to those who express an interest.

"Would anyone be interested in joining a class action lawsuit against the city for failure to enforce codes? If so, please e-mail me at"

I have no idea about the form this lawsuit might take. One possibility, is a writ of mandamus. Our friends at Wikipedia define the writ as follows:

"A writ of mandamus or simply mandamus, which means "we command" in Latin, is the name of one of the prerogative writs in the common law, and is issued by a superior court to compel a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly. Mandamus is a judicial remedy which is in the form of an order from a superior court to any government, subordinate court, corporation or public authority to do or forbear from doing some specific act which that body is obliged under law to do or refrain from doing, as the case may be, and which is in the nature of public duty and in certain cases of a statutory duty. It cannot be issued to compel an authority to do something against statutory provision.

Mandamus can be supplemented by the statement that it is not only the command to do but also a command not to do a particular thing against the rights of the petitioner. Mandamus is supplemented by legal rights. It must be a judicially enforceable and legally protected right before one suffering a legal grievance can ask for a mandamus. A person can be said to be aggrieved only when he is denied a legal right by someone who has a legal duty to do something and abstains from doing it."

You can read more about writs of mandamus by clicking here.

I have also read on the Internet of suits by homeowners against particular individual landlords to enjoin the operation of a group home in violation of zoning codes. In the case of protected classes, this probably would not work, however, if the renters were just adults who grouped together to rent a single family home, the landlord might find him/herself holding the short end of the stick.


Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this whole sorry situation quite a bit, and I'm wondering where do we go from here? I hate to see our laws liberalized to the level of the incompentcy of our current enforcement system. Dick, do you have any suggestions for what we can do to try to educate the City Council and Mayor Pike about the extent of this illegial rooming house problem and the impact on the neighborhoods? If we allow these rooming houses to poliferate throughout Bellingham we will create areas that families and retirees will no longer live due to the party houses, noise, trash and parking problems. In my neighborhood we have had so much difficulty with these types of problems that many people have talked of moving. Many of us have felt threatened by the large numbers of youth carousing to and from these rooming house screaming drunk, fighting, breaking bottles, etc. The police often don't come when called as they are too busy with other problems. People are angry that their rights are not being considered and protected by the laws that are in effect because the city shirks enforcement.Perhaps the neighborhood associations throughout Bellingham should organize a meeting to hash this problem out and decide how we want the city to solve the problem.
What do you think?

zonemaven said...

Dear Anonymous,

It is like slogging through molasses, no? I gave some suggestions in my blog entry on Monday, February 11, 2008, Action, More Action and Forever Action. If you can get 5 families in your neighborhood to perform the actions on that list, you will get noticed. I (we all) need the support of individuals like you to take up the pen (or computer keyboard) and tell the council and the mayor, "We are as mad as hell, and we won't take it anymore!" I will have more on this in the coming weeks.