Filed Date: Feb. 16, 1972
Closed Date: May 18, 2018
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This action was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on February 16, 1972, to try to stop the construction of the Century Freeway, also known as I-105, in Los Angeles. Private homeowners who were set to be displaced by the construction and several advocacy organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the NAACP, sued various state and federal agencies and officials and alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968, and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970. They sought injunctive relief to halt construction of the freeway until the defendants complied with state and federal environmental, civil rights, and housing laws to provide replacement housing for displaced residents without discrimination based on race or socioeconomic status and to include public participation in hearings regarding the project. The case was assigned to Judge Harry Pregerson.
On July 7, 1972, the district court issued a preliminary injunction which prohibited further work on the freeway until federal and state officials complied with environmental and relocation assistance statutes. 352 F. Supp. 1324. The Ninth Circuit upheld the preliminary injunction on September 27, 1974. 506 F.2d 696. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on January 27, 1975.
After years of negotiations and the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the parties entered into a consent decree which established the Century Freeway Housing Program to replace 4,200 homes that would be lost during construction. The decree also set local hiring, job training, and contracting goals which were to be overseen by the Century Freeway Affirmative Action Committee and the Office of the Advocate for Corridor Residents. The district court approved the consent decree in October 1979, which dissolved the preliminary injunction and permitted further work on the freeway as proposed in the EIS. Under the consent decree, the court retained jurisdiction until it entered a judgment of dismissal upon the parties’ compliance with the decree’s terms.
The plaintiffs filed for attorneys fees and costs, which the district court granted in the amounts of $2,204,534.99 and $24,778.12 on March 31, 1980. 501 F. Supp. 403. The consent decree was amended and approved by the district court on September 22, 1981.
In 1995, the consent decree was further amended to privatize the housing replacement program and establish the new Century Housing Corporation, which was the first conversion of a state agency to an independent nonprofit corporation in California. The replenishment program produced 5,700 affordable homes over 14 years and managed programs related to education, job training and employment, child development, senior wellness, and homeless veterans services.
In July 1996, the plaintiffs filed for injunctive relief to prevent the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) from issuing permits that would allow an advertiser to place billboards along I-105 on the grounds that the consent decree required the highway to be a “landscaped freeway.” Caltrans did not oppose the motion, which Judge Pregerson granted on October 2, 1996. 965 F.Supp. 1337. The advertiser appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which reversed on July 9, 1997 on the grounds that the consent decree could not override valid state law regulating outdoor advertising. 118 F.3d 1386.
On April 10, 1997, District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson granted Century Housing’s motion to modify the consent decree to, among other things, expand the geographic area within which Century Housing could produce affordable housing. The court denied the plantiffs’ cross-motion for modifications, including the establishment of an ombudsperson, on the grounds that the proposed changes would preserve constraints formerly binding state administration of the program, which was no longer appropriate under private administration. 960 F.Supp. 1448. Century Housing argued that it had effectively met all requirements of the consent decree at this point, but it wanted to continue to operate as an affordable housing provider beyond the scope of its original consent decree.
On March 29, 2000, the parties stipulated that the court’s jurisdiction should be extended to October 13, 2003. The court never officially extended its jurisdiction, but Century Housing continued to file quarterly status reports with Judge Pregerson until his death in November 2017, although official docket activity paused after February 2007. In 2010, Century Housing was certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution and expanded its operations to Kern and San Diego Counties. In 2015, it reached a milestone of $1 billion in financing and the development of more than 25,000 homes.
On May 3, 2018, the Century Housing Corporation filed a motion to dismiss the case because it had complied with the consent decree and the case was long dormant. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips granted the motion on May 8, 2018. This case is now closed.
Robin Peterson (5/23/2023)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6550690/ralph-w-keith-v-century-housing-corp/
Last updated July 11, 2023, 10:09 p.m.
State / Territory: California
Filing Date: Feb. 16, 1972
Closing Date: May 18, 2018
Case Ongoing: No
Private homeowners displaced by the construction of the Century Freeway.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Amount Defendant Pays: $2,229,313
Order Duration: 1981 - 2003
Content of Injunction: