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Big Or Small, 2,500 Square Feet Measures the Same

Small retail furniture businesses in the City of Hanford were upset that the City banned their businesses in certain parts of the City, but exempted big department stores and allowed the big stores to sell furniture as long as they limited the retail sales of furniture to something less than 2,500 square feet in their stores.  This zoning exemption applied only to stores with 50,000 plus square feet of total space.  The smaller businesses cried foul under the equal protection provisions of the California Constitution, and sued. 

The trial court agreed with the City and the big department stores, ruling that the City had a rational basis for the discrimination because the two kinds of stores were not "similarly situated."  The smaller stores had approximately 4,000 square feet of retail space.

It took the appellate court only seven pages of opinion to reverse this ruling and determine that if each the big and the small stores limited retail furniture sales to 2,500 square feet, then they were similarly situated, and the City had violated the small businesses' right of equal protection. 

The most surprising part of this lawsuit is that it took a City Council, some big department stores, one small business, two or three sets of lawyers and two Courts to reach the momentous decision that no matter how you measure it, 2,500 square feet in a small store is the same as 2,500 square feet in a big store.

Maybe it was one of those optical illusion things. 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, March 31, 2006 at 00:52 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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