A Zoning Reg Can Be The Basis Of An RLUIPA Claim

Monday, December 03, 2018 6:23 am
December 2018 - Volume 46 Number 12

A city may have violated RLUIPA by denying a church a conditional use permit and thereby preventing the church from holding services on its property.

Facts: Faith Fellowship Foursquare Church (Church), a local affiliate of International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG), wanted to build new church facilities in the City of San Leandro (City). The Church had outgrown its existing facilities, and its full congregation could no longer gather together at the same time; instead, the Church held three separate services on Sunday mornings. This arrangement prevented the Church from expressing one of its “unique core beliefs,” that “Sunday morning services are the local expression of . . . the congregation . . . com[ing] together to form one body with Jesus Christ at its head.”

In 2006, the Church found a suitable property on Catalina Street in San Leandro (Catalina property). However, the Catalina property was part of an industrial park zoning district that had been set aside “to preserve an environment for industrial and technological activity.” Several manufacturing plants neighbor the Catalina property. At the time, the City’s zoning code did not allow “assembly uses” in the industrial park district or other industrial or commercial districts. “Assembly uses&rdq[..]