(CN) – The NACCP does not have standing to sue a city in Texas over a 2003 zoning change, the 5th Circuit ruled. The group claims that the revised housing ordinance in Kyle, Texas, has priced black families out of the market for single-family homes.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Association of Home Builders and three of the organizations’ regional affiliates sued Kyle in the Austin division of Texas’ Western District Court, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under the Fair Housing Act.
A federal judge ruled for Kyle, finding that “statistical evidence” was insufficient to prove disparate impact or other discriminatory effects under the FHA.
The NACCP and NAHB argued that the zoning changes, which require increased lot and home sizes, raised the price of entry-level, single-family residences, making new homes unaffordable to some black and Hispanic families.
The groups relied on a study commissioned by the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin that found minorities are “disproportionately excluded” under the new ordinance.
However, the federal appeals court in New Orleans said the NAACP does not have associational standing because it did not establish whether the ordinance led to discrimination against one of its members.
“Plaintiffs have pointed only to evidence suggesting, in the abstract, that some minority members may be less able to afford such residences due to the revised ordinances,” Circuit Judge Jennifer Elrod wrote. “This is insufficient for associational standing because the alleged injury is neither concrete nor imminent.”
Elrod also dismissed NAHB’s grounds for organizational standing. The builders association claimed that its $15,000 study and lobbying activities established injury.
“Plaintiffs have not explained how the activities described above, which basically boil down to examining and communicating about developments in local zoning and subdivision ordinances, differ from the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin’s routine lobbying activities.” the judge wrote. “Furthermore, plaintiffs have not identified any specific projects that the (association) had to put on hold or otherwise curtail in order to respond to the revised ordinances.”
The 5th Circuit dismissed the case for lack of standing, but ruled that Kyle is not entitled to recoup attorney’s fees, because the lawsuit was not frivolous.