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Dillon v. Yacht Club Condominiums Home Owners Ass'n

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

May 27, 2014

Town of Dillon, Colorado, Petitioner:
v.
Yacht Club Condominiums Home Owners Association, Steve Delaney, and Robert R. Duncan, Respondents:

Page 1033

Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals Case No. 10CA2681.

SYLLABUS

The supreme court considers whether a municipality may constitutionally exercise its police powers to undertake a road improvement project that eliminates parking on the municipality's rights-of-way near a condominium. An ordinance comports with due process where it bears a reasonable relationship to a legitimate government interest. This inquiry turns on the reasonableness of the relationship between the ordinance and the government objectives to be achieved -- not the burden on the complaining party or the availability of less burdensome alternatives. The supreme court holds that the ordinances in this case were a reasonable exercise of the municipality's police power because they were reasonably related to the municipality's objectives of improving traffic safety, improving water drainage, and remedying a missing portion of a recreational bike path. Accordingly, the supreme court reverses the court of appeals and remands the case to the court of appeals for further proceedings.

Attorneys for Petitioner: Nathan, Bremer, Dumm & Myers, P.C., J. Andrew Nathan, Ellis J. Mayer, Denver, CO.

Attorneys for Respondents: Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, Richard P. Holme, Andrew M. Low, Denver, CO; Gassman Law Firm, LLC, Edward C. Gassman, Loveland, CO.

Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Colorado Apartment Association: Tschetter, Hamrick, Sulzer, PC, Andrew C. Hamrick, Mark N. Tschetter, Vitctor L. Sulzer, Denver, Colorado.

Attorney for Amicus Curiae Colorado Municipal League: Colorado Municipal League, Rachel L. Allen, Denver, Colorado.

OPINION

Page 1034

MÁRQUEZ, JUSTICE.

[¶1] In 2009, the Town of Dillon (" Town" ) enacted two municipal ordinances, one authorizing a local road improvement project, and the other concerning parking enforcement on the public right-of-way. Owners of the Yacht Club Condominiums (" YCC" ) challenged the ordinances. They alleged, among other things, that the ordinances were an unreasonable exercise of the Town's police power because they eliminated the ability of YCC owners and guests to use the Town's rights-of-way near the YCC for overflow parking.

[¶2] The trial court entered judgment against the Town, ruling, among other things, that the Town abused its police power in enacting the ordinances and deprived the YCC owners of substantive due process. In determining that the Town's exercise of its police power was unreasonable, the trial court considered and weighed the burden of the ordinances on the YCC, as well as the cost and availability of less burdensome alternatives to the adopted measures. The trial court ordered the Town not to prohibit the YCC's owners, renters, guests, or occupants from parking on the Town's rights-of-way adjacent to and across from the YCC. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court in an unpublished decision, essentially adopting the reasoning of the trial court. Yacht Club Condos. Home Owners Ass'n v. Town of Dillon, No. 10CA2681, (Colo. App., Dec. 29, 2011) (not published pursuant to C.A.R. 35(f)).

[¶3] We granted certiorari review.[1] We hold that, in enacting the two ordinances at issue here, the Town did not abuse its police power or deprive the YCC owners of due process. An ordinance comports with due process where it bears a reasonable relationship to a legitimate government interest. The ordinances here were within the Town's police power to regulate matters of public health, safety, and welfare. The measures

Page 1035

were a reasonable exercise of that power because they were reasonably related to the Town's objectives of improving traffic safety, improving water drainage, and remedying a missing portion of a recreational bike path. Accordingly, we reverse the court of appeals and remand this case to the court of appeals to review the Town's challenges to the trial court's other bases for relief.

I.

[¶4] Plaintiffs are owners of the YCC, located in the Town of Dillon, Colorado, a home rule municipality. The YCC is located at the intersection of Gold Run Circle and Tenderfoot Street. The Town owns rights-of-way alongside both sides of Gold Run Circle and Tenderfoot Street.

[¶5] The YCC consists of three buildings with fifty condominium units. The three-bedroom units have " lock-offs" -- a bedroom with a separate kitchen and lockable entry--such that the YCC has as many as sixty-six separate dwelling units. When the YCC was constructed between 1965 and 1967, the Town considered requiring the developer to provide off-street parking. The developer successfully opposed such a requirement, relying on this court's decision in City & County of Denver v. Denver Buick, Inc., 141 Colo. 121, 347 P.2d 919 (1959) (holding that a zoning ordinance requiring landowners to provide off-street parking was per se unconstitutional as a taking of property without just compensation).[2]

[¶6] The YCC has designated a common area for on-site parking along the front of its property that is large enough to allow up to forty-three cars to park perpendicular to the buildings. For many years, when the on-site parking spaces were full, YCC owners and guests " tandem parked" -- that is, one car parked perpendicular to the building on YCC property, and a second car double-parked immediately behind it on the Town's right-of-way. YCC owners and guests also parked their cars on the Town's right-of-way across the street from the YCC. Although the record reflects that the Town sent letters to the YCC complaining about the parking situation and asking the YCC to propose a permanent solution to the problem, there is no evidence that, prior to 2009, the Town passed any ordinance or enforced any law outlawing tandem parking or parking in its rights-of-way.

[¶7] In 2009, the Town enacted two ordinances that effectively eliminated the ability of YCC owners and guests to use the Town's rights-of-way near the YCC for overflow parking. First, Ordinance No. 04-09 authorized the Town to enter into a construction contract as part of a larger road improvement project. In the part of the project relevant here, the Town made improvements to portions of Tenderfoot Street and Gold Run Circle and constructed a recreational bike path along Gold Run Circle across the street from the YCC. The ordinance states that the Town undertook the project to: (1) address " current road conditions . . . resulting in unsafe driving conditions which threaten lives and property" ; (2) " improve . . . drainage" ; and (3) " remedy a now-missing portion of the recreation path," which, as configured at that time, " forces current users of the recreation path . . . into a street where they mix with traffic rather than allowing them to remain on the recreation path where they avoid traffic."

[¶8] Second, Ordinance No. 10-09 amended the Dillon Municipal Code definition of " street" to include " the entire width of every dedicated public right-of-way owned or controlled by the Town." The stated purpose of Ordinance 10-09 was to " ratify and affirm the previously granted and current authority of the Town of Dillon Chief of Police to determine and designate those streets and rights of way within the Town where parking shall be prohibited." Accordingly, the ordinance authorized the Chief of Police to designate no-parking zones within any of the Town's rights-of-way. After Ordinance 10-09

Page 1036

was enacted, the Chief of Police posted " No Parking" signs across the street from the YCC on both Gold Run Circle and Tenderfoot Street, and painted " No Tandem Parking" on the Town's right-of-way adjacent to the YCC. The Chief did not post similar signs anywhere else in Dillon.

[¶9] The Plaintiffs filed suit, seeking a declaratory judgment that: (1) the Town was barred by the doctrine of equitable estoppel from eliminating the ability of YCC owners and guests to park on the Town's rights-of-way; and (2) the actions of the Town in eliminating such parking amounted to an abuse of police power.

[¶10] At a bench trial on their claims, the Plaintiffs presented evidence to show that the ordinances negatively impacted the value of their condominiums because it reduced the available parking in the area. They also produced evidence to show that the project could have been built in ways less burdensome to the YCC --for example, by configuring the roadway and recreation path to permit YCC owners and guests to continue to park on the Town's rights-of-way. In response, the Town presented evidence that the ordinances were related to improving traffic safety, improving drainage from storm water and snow runoff, and remedying a missing portion of the recreation path. Witnesses for the Town also testified about concerns with the alternatives identified by the Plaintiffs.

[¶11] The record reflects that it was undisputed that the road improvement project satisfied the Town's need to construct a missing portion of a recreation path that pedestrians and bicyclists used to travel to the town center. The adjoining recreation path separated pedestrians and bicyclists from cars, eliminating the need to share the same traffic lane. It was also undisputed that the project placed drainage pans along both ...


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