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A Review Of Yim I And Yim Ii

Has the Washington Supreme Court Finally Settled on a Definitive Regulatory Takings Doctrine?

On Nov. 14, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court issued two landmark property rights decisions, Yim v. City of Seattle (“Yim I”) and Yim v. City of Seattle (“Yim II”). The court presented the decisions as clarifications of its longstanding efforts to align Washington’s regulatory takings and substantive due process jurisprudence with federal law. Property rights advocates have criticized Yim I and Yim II, however, as victories for state and local governments seeking to encroach upon individual property rights.

In Yim I, plaintiffs challenged Seattle’s “First-In-Time” rule (FIT), which requires landlords to provide prospective tenants with notice of their rental criteria, to screen completed applications in chronological order, and, with a few exceptions, to offer tenancy to the first qualified applicant. Yim, and other landlords, challenged the ordinance, arguing that it facially violated their state constitutional rights as a per se regulatory taking for private use and an infringement on their substantive due process rights.

In Yim II, plaintiffs challenged Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Ordinance (FCHO) which restricts a landlord’s ability to select and screen tenants, prohibiting landlords from conducting criminal background checks or questioning an applicant’s criminal history. Plaintiffs asserted that the FCHO facially violated their substantive due process rights. On certified questions from the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, the Washington Supreme Court clarified the proper standard to analyze substantive due process claims under the Washington Constitution, both for land use regulations generally and under the FCHO.

By Adam G. Haynie and Matthew S. Hitchcock – Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, P.S.

This article published in the Washington State Bar News, September 2020