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On the Green Apartments L.L.C. v. Tacoma, City of

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20526
Nos. No. 98-35976, 241 F.3d 1235/(9th Cir., 03/12/2001)

The court affirms a district court dismissal of a residential complex's claim that a city's municipal waste disposal ordinance violates the U.S. Commerce Clause. The ordinance requires all waste to be deposited at the city's disposal area and all city businesses and residents to have their waste collected by the local waste utility, but it allows certain businesses to haul their own waste to the city disposal area. After the city refused the complex's petition to haul its own waste to a non-city disposal area, the complex brought this action claiming that the ordinance discriminates against interstate commerce.

The court first holds that the complex lacks standing to challenge that portion of the ordinance that prohibits it from hauling its own garbage. Although a holding that the ordinance is unconstitutional would redress the complex's financial injury, the financial injury is unrelated to the purposes of the Commerce Clause. The self-haul prohibition imposes no barrier to interstate commerce because the complex would be forced to pay for garbage services it did not want even if the city were to dump all its garbage across the state line. The court next holds that the complex does have standing to challenge the ordinance's requirement that self-haulers tip their garbage at the city's disposal area. The ordinance causes financial injury to the complex that would be redressed by a favorable decision on the merits. Moreover, the complex's injury of not being allowed to take its trash outside the city is related to the Commerce Clause's underlying purposes. Nevertheless, the court then holds that the complex's challenge to the ordinance does not implicate the Commerce Clause. The complex only alleges that the ordinance prevents them from dumping at other disposal sites within the state. Thus, the ordinance cannot be said to burden interstate commerce of the complex's trash.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Jackson Schmidt
Pepple, Johnson, Cantu & Schmidt
1218 Third Ave., Ste. 1900, Seattle WA 98101
(206) 625-1711

Counsel for Defendant
Leah Whitman
City Attorney's Office
747 Market St., Rm. 1120, Tacoma WA 98402
(253) 591-5885

O'Scannlain, J. Before Reavley,1 J., concurring separately, and Gould, J.