Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Business Activity Constitutes a Business Use (duh!)

C'mon, Manteca - even Florida gets the concept of illegal business use! It is unacceptable to have Manteca's code enforcement group, the planning department, a P/R hack, a fuzzy-line city attorney, and all five city council buffoons* remain blind to common - and legal - definitions of business use.

credit: Chuck Pefley

In an appeals case decided last month, and described on the Law of the Land blog, the City of Miami charged Flava Works Inc with illegally operating a business within a residential zone (at least, generating the "raw" material - same as Allen & Brassey's operation?) Flava Works Inc claimed no business transactions took place at the location and, therefore, was exempt from the city's business ordinance. The City of Miami lost in trial court, but won on appeal, in Flava Works, Inc v. City of Miami (pdf).

I have taken the liberty of replacing names and pertinent phrases in the final portions of the issued opinion. The decision of the appellate court applies their legal logic, which logic happens to be the same as mine, but is systemically** missing in Manteca's leadership.
Flava Works [Manteca] argues that no business was being conducted at the 27th [810 Fishback] Street residence because no goods were bought or sold and nothing was manufactured on the premises. However, it can be reasonably asserted that raw video images [food inventories], which were later sold over the internet [off the catering trucks], were [delivered to and ice] created at the 27th [Fishback] Street residence. While t [T]hese images are not tangible goods, they have a commercial value and enable Flava Works [TLC Catering] to earn a profit. This seems to comport with the common definition of a business, which is "[a] commercial enterprise carried on for profit." Black's Law Dictionary 211 (8th ed. 2004).

The activities taking place at the 27th [Fishback] Street residence are part and parcel to Flava Work’s [TLC Catering's] business operations. The fact that certain aspects of the business are performed at other locations does not alter this analysis. Business objectives are the sole reason individuals are paid to live and engage in sexual [such] activities at the 27th [Fishback] Street residence. Flava Works [TLC Catering] would be unable to deliver content [retail product] to its subscribers [customers] without these endeavors. The activities taking place at the 27th [Fishback] Street residence are a clear violation of the prohibition against operating a business in a residential zone.


For the foregoing reasons, we reverse the district court’s [Manteca City Council's] grant of summary judgment to Flava Works denial of summary judgment to the City of Miami [Mr. Behling]. In reviewing this matter and hearing the arguments of counsel, the court considered simply holding that the district court [city council] erred in applying the law and remanding for further consideration. However, because there is no dispute in the facts, and in the interest of judicial economy, we have ruled as a matter of law that the City of Miami Code Enforcement Board's Final Administrative Order [Mr. Behling's finding] is due to be reinstated as to that part of the order holding that there was a violation of zoning ordinance 1572 [MMC 17.25] Illegally operating a business in a residential zone. Consequently, we REVERSE AND RENDER PARTIAL JUDGMENT in favor of the City of Miami [Mr. Behling] on the state law claim that Flava Works was [Manteca erred in allowing TLC Catering's] operating a business at the residence[.] , and REMAND for further proceedings on the constitutional claims.

Gee, does any of this sound at all familiar, Manteca City Hall? These three re-written paragraphs are merely advance copy of the judgment I expect to win against the City of Manteca in the near future.

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* buffoon (n) clown: a rude or vulgar fool; a person who amuses others by ridiculous behavior. A jester, joker, jokester, fool, wit-cracker, prankster or buffoon was a person employed to tell jokes and provide general entertainment, typically by a European monarch. (Surely, the voters of Manteca can do better than this.)

** systemic (adj) affecting an entire system; embedded within, spread throughout, and affecting an entire group, system, body, economy, market, society [or a whole city's leadership]; examples: "a systemic poison," or "Everyone front and center in the city council chambers is systemically infected with incurable buffoonery - or worse!"

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