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2 Under-55 Residents Face Eviction : Judge Rejects Young Tenants' Seniors-Only Rule Challenge

October 01, 1987

A judge rejected a challenge to seniors-only rules at a Huntington Beach condominium Wednesday, clearing the way for eviction of two residents under 55 years of age.

Acting Orange County Superior Judge Walter W. Charamza ruled that the Huntington Landmark condominiums may legally restrict occupancy to senior citizens. Nick O'Malley, lawyer for the under-age residents, said he would recommend an appeal.

Charamza, a retired judge sitting by special appointment, ruled that neither Victoria Ross, 25, nor Shane Shermoen, 18, may stay in the 1,238-unit complex.

O'Malley had challenged the over-55 restriction as illegal and unconstitutional. He claimed that under a 1982 Supreme Court decision and 1985 legislation, only buildings specially constructed for seniors could legally discriminate based on age.

Life Style for Seniors

The Huntington Landmark complex, built in 1973, at first allowed only residents over 40 but changed that rule to over-55 after the state legislation was enacted.

Charamza ruled that the complex, patterned after the Leisure World retirement communities, was designed for older residents and has created a life style desired by senior citizens.

Charamza rejected Shermoen's claim that he should be allowed to stay because he cares for his ailing great-grandmother. Ross, who lives in the complex with her parents, claimed that she has an ownership interest in the condominium. Charamza ruled that she is unqualified to live in the complex regardless of whether she is a full or part owner.

O'Malley also said both young clients have a constitutional right to live with their parents, and the age restrictions violate their freedom of choice in family life. Charamza rejected both contentions, stating they are not based on any existing law.

Marvin D. Mayer, attorney for the complex, said eviction of the two defendants could come 90 days after a formal decision is signed by Charamza.

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