Harrington v. City of Davis

Facts: The owner of a residential property obtains a conditional use permit to use the property as a commercial space. When the permit expires, the owner reverts the property back to residential use but no certificate of occupancy is issued. The property is later sold and the new owner also applies for the same permit. The city’s building code requires compliance with accessible parking regulations when there is a change in occupancy. The owner does not provide accessible parking and the city approves the permit application.

Claim: A neighbor seeks to block issuance of the conditional use permit, claiming the new permit constitutes a change in occupancy from the residential use of the previous owner, triggering the accessible parking requirements since the permit would change the property’s classification from residential back to business.

Counterclaim: The city seeks to issue the property owner’s permit, claiming it does not result in a change in occupancy or require compliance with accessible parking requirements since a building official did not issue a certificate of occupancy when the previous owner’s conditional use permit expired and, thus, the property remained classified as a business.

Holding: A California court of appeals holds the city may issue the owner a conditional use permit and the owner is not required to provide accessible parking since issuance of the permit does not constitute a change in occupancy as a certificate of occupancy was not issued when the previous owner reverted the property’s use back to residential. [Harrington v. City of Davis (October 20, 2017)_CA5th_]

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