On May 23, we reported about the lawsuit filed by Harbor Missionary Church against the City of San Buenaventura, California over the City’s denial of Harbor’s application for a conditional use permit to allow it to continue providing free food and other services to the poor and homeless from its property. Harbor alleges that the City’s denial of its application has substantially burdened its religious exercise in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) because there is no ready and feasible alternative location for it to operate. On May 30, 2014, the District Court for the Central District of California granted Harbor’sex parteapplication for a temporary restraining order enjoining the City “from enforcing any regulation that will prohibit Harbor from operating its Homeless Program.” The District Court found that Harbor was likely to succeed on the merits of its substantial burden claim, since Harbor is no longer able to operate its ministry to the homeless, which is a “significant part of Harbor’s religious expression.” Although the court found that the City’s denial of the application was in furtherance of a compelling government interest – public safety – it determined that the City had not demonstrated that the denial was narrowly tailored to further that interest, as required by RLUIPA.
The temporary restraining order is to remain in effect until the adjudication of Harbor’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The District Court’s order in Harbor Missionary Church Corporation v. City of San Buenaventura, No. 2:14-cv-03730 (C.D. CA 2014), is available here.