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Adults-Only Apartment Sections OKd by State Rights Commission

February 05, 1989|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Apartment complexes will be allowed to exclude families with children from adults-only housing sections under a surprise ruling by the state civil rights commission that reversed an earlier decision.

The Fair Employment and Housing Commission found an apartment owner guilty of age discrimination last August when it ruled 3 to 1 that all units must be available to families with children. But the commission reversed itself in a 5-0 ruling released Friday, although civil rights prosecutors had requested the rehearing because they felt the previous ruling had not gone far enough.

In the latest decision, the commission said portions of an apartment complex in the city of Camarillo could be reserved for tenants without children, although it said a ban on children in all areas of the complex would be illegal.

Prosecutors in the Fair Employment and Housing Department, a separate agency, had sought an expansion of the initial ruling because no damages were awarded to a father who was threatened with eviction.

The commission defended its latest position, saying it was bound by a 1987 state Appeal Court ruling in San Bernardino that had allowed adults-only apartment areas. The ruling had been criticized in the earlier decision.

The commission ruled last August that the adults-only section was illegal under a 1982 state Supreme Court ruling banning housing discrimination against families with children. In dissenting from that ruling, Commissioner Michael Johnson cited the Appeal Court decision, which said apartments were allowed to restrict children to certain sections.

The commission majority said in August that only a "compelling societal need," such as a shortage of housing for the elderly, could justify adults-only sections.

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