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Meridian tiny home owner files lawsuit against the city

The City of Meridian ordered Chasidy Decker to leave her tiny home in Meridian for violating city code, according to Decker. She is now homeless.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — A Meridian woman and her landlord are filing a lawsuit against the City of Meridian after code enforcement ordered the woman out of her home for violating city code.

Chasidy Decker signed a one-year lease with Robert Calacal to park her tiny home on his property and hookup to utilities on the side of his traditional house.

The tiny home violated Meridian city code 11-3A-20:

"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."

Institute for Justice - a self-described 'nonprofit, public interest law firm' - is representing Decker and Calacal. Their attorney, Bob Belden, strongly opposes the city code amid a housing crisis throughout the Treasure Valley.

"We think [the code] should be lifted," Belden said. "The city forced Chasidy out of a perfectly good home because it has a blanket ban on anyone living in a tiny home on wheels outside an RV park, regardless of how safe or attractive the home is."

The lawsuit alleges the city code has no substance of "legitimate government interest." The code is arbitrary - it does not exist to promote a necessary good, such as safety, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit further claims Meridian code enforcement is choosing only to enforce violations in the neighborhood against Calacal's property because he recently moved to Idaho from California.

"Governments need a good, legitimate reason to treat people differently. And just being from somewhere else to being new to town is not good enough under the Idaho Constitution," Belden said.

KTVB observed several homes in the neighborhood with trailers, RV's, and even one other tiny home. The City of Meridian annexed these properties from Ada County in 1978; homeowners before the annex have grandfather rights and are not bound by city codes, the lawsuit claims.

However, it's unclear if these neighbors - who the lawsuits claims are also breaking code - qualify for these grandfathered rights.

In the meantime, Decker could potentially move her tiny home to an RV park, but she cannot find any availability. Additionally, the housing crisis has priced her out of apartment options.

"I have exhausted all options," Decker said. "Short of being forced out of the city that I love, I don't know. I don't know what's gonna happen."

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