California Ordinance Which Prevents More Than 5 Persons from Occupying a Home In a Single Family Zone
Is An Ordinance which Prevents Unrelated Groups of More Than Five Persons from Occupying a Home In a Single Family Zone Valid ?
In City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson (1980) 27 Cal. 3d 123 164 Cal. Rptr. 539, 610 P.2d 436, 12 A.L.R.4th 219, the Supreme Court invalidated an ordinance which prevented unrelated groups of more than five persons from occupying a home in a single-family zone.
This prevented a group of 12 adults from living in a 24-room, 10-bedroom house owned by one of them. the question posed by the court was whether a law to promote and protect family values "may deny to individuals who are not family members certain benefits that family members enjoy." (City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson, supra, 27 Cal. 3d at p. 128.)
The court said that the California constitutional right to privacy required that any incursion into individual privacy, such as Santa Barbara's restriction on communal living, be justified by a compelling public interest. (Id. at p. 131.)
The ordinance's goal of "preservation of a residential environment" was not advanced by the "rule-of-five." the court was "not persuaded" that a residential environment was in fact dependent on a blood, marriage or adoption relationship among the residents of a house. (Id. at p. 132.)
The rule-of-five was "not pertinent to noise, traffic or parking congestion, kinds of activity, or other conditions that conceivably might alter the land-use-related 'characteristics' or 'environment' of the districts." (Id. at pp. 132-133.)
The court concluded that the city's stated goals could be enhanced by means less restrictive of freedom than the rule-of-five, such as reference to floor space and facilities and limitations on the number of cars applied evenly to all households, and that "in general, zoning ordinances are much less suspect when they focus on the use than when they command inquiry into who are the users." (City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson, supra, 27 Cal. 3d at p. 133;
See also Park Redlands Covenant Control Committee v. Simon (1986) 181 Cal. App. 3d 87, 96-97 226 Cal. Rptr. 199 invalidating covenant limiting number of occupants of house to three on privacy grounds.)