City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson

In City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson (1980) 27 Cal.3d 123, a city ordinance required that all occupants of a home be members of a family, and it defined family in relevant part as a group not to exceed five persons, excluding servants, " 'living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit.' " (Adamson, supra, 27 Cal.3d at p. 127.) The appellant's household consisted of a group of 12 unrelated adults who lived in a 24-room, 10-bedroom, 6-bathroom home. The evidence showed the residents "have become a close group with social, economic, and psychological commitments to each other. They share expenses, rotate chores, and eat evening meals together. ... Emotional support and stability are provided by the members to each other; they enjoy recreational activities such as a trip to Mexico together; they have chosen to live together mainly because of their compatibility." (Id. at pp. 127-128.) In Adamson, the court held the city lacked a compelling public interest in restricting communal living to groups of five or fewer persons. The court found the ordinance's "rule-of-five" did not promote the stated goals of " 'serving the public health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare and ... providing the economic and social advantages resulting from an orderly planned use of land resources, and ... encouraging, guiding and providing a definite plan for future growth and development' " of the city, or prohibiting activities of a commercial nature and developing and sustaining a suitable environment " 'for family life where children are members of most families.' " (Adamson, supra, 27 Cal.3d at pp. 131-132.) The court noted the "rule-of-five is 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 city. (Adamson, supra, 27 Cal.3d at pp. 132-133.) The court found the city's stated goals could be satisfied by less restrictive means, such as regulating population density based on floor space and facilities, regulating noise by enforcing ordinances and criminal statutes, and regulating traffic and parking by limiting the number of cars permitted a household and by offstreet parking requirements. (Adamson, supra, 27 Cal.3d at p. 133.) In Adamson, the evidence showed the residents were committed to each other and engaged in communal living by sharing expenses, chores, meals and travel. (Adamson, supra, 27 Cal.3d at pp. 127-128.) The court found the city's ordinance defining "family" as including only five or fewer related persons living as " 'a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling' " (id. at p. 127) violated the plaintiffs' right to live together as an "alternate family" because of the numerical limitation. (Id. at pp. 128, 134.)