A complaint filed in federal court on Jan. 4 challenges the constitutionality of the City’s tear-down tax that was adopted by the City on June 4, 2007. Under the City’s ordinance, there is a tax of $10,000 to demolish a residential structure in the City, and either $10,000 or $3,000 per unit (whichever is more) to demolish a multi-family structure. The tax is deposited into an Affordable Housing Fund and used to achieve the City’s affordable housing goals.
Michael and Victoria Kathrein filed the suit on behalf of themselves and classes of other persons affected by the ordinance. Among other things, they allege that the tax constitutes a taking without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment and that it deprives them of equal protection of the laws, because the tax is not imposed equally among all citizens and it also exempts owners of commercial property. The complaint seeks, among other things, an order enjoining enforcement of the ordinance, as well as damages suffered by the members of the alleged classes.