BOISE, Idaho—Today, Judge Jason D. Scott of the District Court of Ada County ruled that Chasidy Decker’s lawsuit challenging Meridian’s ban on tiny homes on wheels could move forward. However, the court denied Chasidy’s motion for emergency relief that would have allowed her to live in her home while the lawsuit proceeds. Chasidy is represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ) in her challenge against the city’s ban.
Chasidy Decker is a native of the Treasure Valley who was priced out of the skyrocketing traditional Boise real estate market. But she found a way to continue living in the area she calls home: she bought a beautiful tiny home she arranged to park on Meridian homeowner Robert Calacal’s private property for modest rent. Although Chasidy and Robert were both happy with the arrangement, the city was not. Meridian Code Enforcement threatened Chasidy and Robert with fines and jail time if she didn’t leave her only home. Chasidy and Robert filed a lawsuit in August challenging the city’s irrational and arbitrary ban on tiny homes on wheels for violating the Idaho Constitution.
The city, however, made a variety of arguments for why the lawsuit should be dismissed. The court rejected almost all of these arguments and allowed the lawsuit to go forward in the ruling issued today.
“I’m disappointed because I really wish I was living in my home again,” said Chasidy. “But I have high hopes that in the end, something good will happen. And I appreciate that the judge is so engaged with the case, because this is something that affects a lot of people in the housing crisis.”
The Idaho Constitution requires all laws to have a legitimate government interest. But Meridian’s ban has none—Chasidy’s home is perfectly safe, which Meridian conceded when they encouraged her to move it to an RV park to live in. The city also can’t argue that her home would somehow affect the appearance of the neighborhood, since it’s perfectly legal to keep her tiny home where it’s parked—she just can’t live in it. Chasidy’s tiny home also fits right into her neighborhood, which has many RVs and trailers—over a dozen of which appear to be being lived in within just 1,500 feet of Chasidy’s tiny home. The lawsuit brought five claims for why the City’s ban on tiny homes and her home specifically was unconstitutional. The court allowed four of the five claims to go forward.
“We’re encouraged that Chasidy and Robert’s claims live to see another day and ultimately will be tested on their merits.” said IJ Attorney Bob Belden. “Making Chasidy homeless does nothing to improve public health, safety or welfare in Meridian, and it certainly hasn’t improved her living conditions.”
Chasidy’s lawsuit also brings a free speech claim regarding retaliation by the Meridian Code Enforcement Office. Chasidy claims that after the Idaho Statesman covered her story, which painted one code enforcer in an unflattering light, that code enforcement officer later cited Chasidy and Robert for alleged parking violations to retaliate against them for the press coverage. The judge allowed the free speech claim to go forward.
“We are committed to vindicating Chasidy’s right to live in her home and are optimistic about the next steps,” said IJ Senior Attorney Dan Alban. “Everyone needs a place to live. Cities should be making it easier—not harder—for residents to find an affordable place to live, particularly during a housing crisis.”