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‘We’re encouraged:’ lawsuit challenging Meridian’s policy on tiny homes moves forward

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An Ada County Court could soon make a decision on how tiny homes are regulated in cities. 

Ada County District Judge Jason D. Scott ruled today that Chasidy Decker’s lawsuit challenging the City of Meridian’s law on tiny homes would move forward. However, the court denied Decker’s motion for emergency relief, which would have allowed her to stay in her tiny home during the legal fight. 

Meridian city code 11-3A-20 states:

“No motor vehicle or trailer including, but not limited to, travel trailers, fifth wheels, recreational vehicles, mobile tiny houses and/or motor coaches, shall be used as a residence or as living quarters except within an approved recreational vehicle park. No recreational equipment, including, but not limited to, tents, tepees, yurts, and/or huts, shall be used as a residence or as living quarters.”

As first reported by the Idaho Statesman, Chasidy Decker and Robert Calcal filed a lawsuit against the City of Meridian after the city asked Decker to leave her tiny home, which sits on Calcal’s property, on August 1. Since then, Decker has been staying in a spare bedroom at a friend’s house instead of living in the tiny home she owns. 

According to a press release, the city made multiple arguments for why the case should be dismissed, though the court rejected almost all of those.

“I’m disappointed because I really wish I was living in my home again,” Decker said. “But I have high hopes that in the end, something good will happen. And I appreciate that the judge is so engaged with the case, because this is something that affects a lot of people in the housing crisis.”

Decker’s lawsuit brought five claims as to why the city’s ban on tiny homes was unconstitutional. The court let four of the five claims move forward.

“We’re encouraged that Chasidy and Robert’s claims live to see another day and ultimately will be tested on their merits.” IJ Attorney Bob Belden said. “Making Chasidy homeless does nothing to improve public health, safety or welfare in Meridian, and it certainly hasn’t improved her living conditions.”

Decker’s lawsuit includes a free speech claim surrounding retaliation by a Meridian Code Enforcement Officer. Decker claims that following an Idaho Statesman story covering her situation and that mentioned this particular officer, the officer cited Decker and Calcal for alleged parking violations to “retaliate against them for press coverage.” The judge allowed this claim to move forward. 

“We are committed to vindicating Chasidy’s right to live in her home and are optimistic about the next steps,” IJ Senior Attorney Dan Alban said. “Everyone needs a place to live. Cities should be making it easier—not harder—for residents to find an affordable place to live, particularly during a housing crisis.”

This story has been updated to clarify the language in Meridian’s law regarding tiny homes.

BoiseDev’s Margaret Carmel contributed reporting.

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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