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Colorado Airport Parking, LLC v. Dep't of Aviation of City & County of Denver

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fifth Division

February 27, 2014

Colorado Airport Parking, LLC, d/b/a USAirport Parking; Green Park Denver, LLC; and CFS 2907 Denver, LLC, d/b/a the Parking Spot, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Department of Aviation of the City and County of Denver; and Kim Day, in her capacity as Manager of Aviation, Defendants-Appellees

City and County of Denver District Court No. 12CV2214. Honorable Robert S. Hyatt, Judge.

ORDER VACATED AND CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

Bryan Cave LLP, Steven J. Perfrement, Stephen D. Rynerson, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

D. Scott Martinez, City Attorney, Debra Overn, Assistant City Attorney, John Redmond, Assistant City Attorney, Denver, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees.

Opinion by JUDGE RICHMAN. Graham and Navarro, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 1218

RICHMAN, JUDGE.

[¶1] Plaintiffs, Colorado Airport Parking, LLC; Green Park Denver, LLC; and CFS 2907 Denver, LLC, appeal the district court's order in favor of defendants, the Department of Aviation of The City and County of Denver and its manager, Kim Day (department), denying plaintiffs any of the relief they requested under C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4). We vacate the order and remand the case for further proceedings.

I. Background

[¶2] Plaintiffs own large parking lots located on private land proximate to Denver International Airport (DIA) and provide their customers with shuttle service to and from the airport. This dispute arose when the department implemented Rule 100.22 of its Ground Transportation Rules and Regulations.

[¶3] Before the new rule, off-site parking lot operators, such as plaintiffs, paid an " access fee" for each shuttle trip to the airport based on the size of the vehicle and a " dwell fee" for any trip exceeding fifteen minutes, as did some other shuttle bus operators. Pursuant to Rule 100.22, plaintiffs were no longer assessed an access fee (though dwell fees still applied) and instead were assessed a " privilege fee" of eight percent of their gross revenues. Under the new fee structure, the total fees paid by two plaintiffs increased

Page 1219

significantly, though the fees paid by one plaintiff decreased.

[¶4] Plaintiffs filed separate petitions challenging Rule 100.22, which were consolidated into a single proceeding before a hearing officer. Plaintiffs argued that Rule 100.22 should be invalidated because (1) it violates section 5-16(e) of the Denver Revised Municipal Code regarding allocation of airport expenses; (2) the department failed to follow the proper procedures in promulgating Rule 100.22; and (3) the rule amounts to an improper tax. After a two-day hearing, the hearing officer issued an order denying the petitions on all grounds.

[¶5] Plaintiffs filed a complaint in the district court, asserting four claims for relief: (1) judicial review, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 106; (2) declaratory relief, pursuant to section 13-51-106, C.R.S. 2013; (3) declaration of invalidity as an impermissible tax; and (4) injunctive relief, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4)(V) and 65. After reviewing the administrative record but without holding a hearing, the district court issued an order denying all of plaintiffs' requests for relief.

II. Issues on Appeal

[¶6] Plaintiffs contend that the district court's order must be reversed because (1) the hearing officer misapplied the law in his determination that the department reasonably apportioned the expenses of the airport and (2) the district court erred by dismissing their C.R.C.P. 57 claim without a hearing. Plaintiffs do not argue on appeal that the fee structure is an impermissible tax.

A. Reasonable Apportionment

[¶7] Section 5-16(e) provides:


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