04-017-O

ORDINANCE NO. __________

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING SECTION 29C-5 AND ADDING NEW ARTICLE II TO CHAPTER 29C OF THE DULUTH CITY CODE, 1959, AS AMENDED, PERTAINING TO HUMAN RIGHTS; ESTABLISHING A HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE WHICH IS HUD COMPLIANT, AS AUTHORIZED BY LAWS OF MINNESOTA, 2000, CHAPTER 402.

BY COUNCILOR ATKINS:

The city of Duluth does ordain:

Section 1. That Section 29C-5 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended by adding language to provide as follows:

Sec. 29C-5. Same--Powers and duties generally.

The commission shall have the following powers and duties:
(a) To receive any complaint of a violation of this Chapter within one year after the occurrence of the alleged violation;
(1) Complaint. The commission may accept complaints for action consistent with this Chapter. All complaints must be verified and made in writing on forms provided by the commission and signed by a complainant (the complainant). When any complaint is accepted by the commission, the commission shall serve notice to the complainant, as required by Section 363.116 of Minnesota Statutes, as to the complainant's options and rights relative to the Minnesota Human Rights Act and any time limitations for exercising those rights;
(2) Priority case. The commission shall give priority to investigating and processing those complaints in which there is evidence of irreparable harm if immediate action is not taken. If, at any time after the acceptance of a complaint, the human rights officer has reason to believe that a respondent has engaged in any unfair discriminatory practice, the human rights officer may file a petition in the district court seeking appropriate temporary relief against the respondent, pending final determination of proceedings under this Chapter, including an order or decree restraining the respondent from doing or procuring an act tending to render ineffectual any order the commission may enter with respect to the complaint. The court shall have the power to grant temporary relief or a restraining order as it deems just and proper. No relief or order extending beyond the time required to properly investigate the complaint and allow the commission to determine whether there is probable cause to believe a violation occurred shall be granted except by consent of the respondent or after hearing upon notice to the respondent and a finding by the court that there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice;
(3) Notice to respondent and answer. When a complaint is accepted, the commission shall within ten days serve a copy of the complaint on the party alleged to be making the discriminatory practice (the respondent) personally or by mail and shall include a statement of the respondent's procedural rights and obligations under this Chapter and a form for the filing of an answer to the complaint. An answer shall be filed by the respondent within 20 days of service of the complaint on the respondent. Failure to file an answer by a respondent may be considered an admission of the allegations in the complaint;
(4) Transfer to state. The commission may transfer any complaint to the state commissioner of human rights for further proceedings. Unless or until such complaint is so transferred, the commission may investigate such complaint and may determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred. The filing of a complaint with the commission shall preclude the option of filing the same charge with the state and the filing of a charge with the state shall preclude the option of filing the same complaint with the commission;
(5) Delegation to authorized community organization. The commission may delegate to an authorized community organization the authority to investigate a complaint consistent with the requirements of this Chapter;
(6) Investigation. The human rights officer, or any agency or person designated by the commission, shall utilize the office of the city attorney to subpoena persons and documents in its investigation. The human rights officer, or any agency or person designated by the commission, shall commence its investigation upon accepting the complaint and shall complete its investigation within 60 days following the acceptance of the complaint;
(7) Mediation. At any time, including prior to the acceptance of a complaint, either party may request that mediation be undertaken or the human rights officer or commission may direct the parties to undertake mediation. Mediation may be conducted by any appropriate neutral third party and may include any form of alternative dispute resolution, including binding or non binding arbitration. The commission may establish rules for the conduct of mediation and the formation of conciliation agreements;
(8) Probable cause. Within 30 days following completion of the investigation, the commission or such members of the commission as may be designated, but not fewer than five commissioners, shall meet and determine whether there is probable cause to believe a violation has occurred. The human rights officer shall present the evidence obtained during the investigation. The commission shall adopt rules to govern the conduct of hearings held to review evidence and make a finding of probable cause. Any determination that there is probable cause to believe that a violation of this Chapter has occurred can be achieved only by a concurrence of not less than a majority of the members of the commission as have been designated to make such determination;
If the probable cause determination is not made within 100 days following the acceptance of the complaint, the complainant shall be informed in writing of the reasons why the determination has not been made;
(9) Conciliation agreement. If probable cause is found, the commission shall attempt to obtain voluntary compliance with the applicable provisions of this Chapter. Any conciliation agreement shall be signed by both parties and approved by the commission. Each conciliation agreement shall be made public unless the complainant and respondent otherwise agree and the commission determines that disclosure is not required to further the purposes of this Chapter;
(10) Referral to Duluth human rights commission or commissioner of the department of human rights. Any determination that there is probable cause to believe that a violation of this Chapter has occurred which relates to discrimination in connection with credit, education, employment, public accommodations and public services may be referred by the human rights officer to the commissioner of human rights pursuant to Section 363.116 of Minnesota Statutes;
(11) (10) Action by commission. Housing and real property complaints. Any determination that there is probable cause to believe that a violation of this Chapter has occurred which relates to discrimination in connection with housing and real property may be prosecuted by the commission. If the commission determines that as to complaints involving housing and real property it cannot obtain voluntary compliance or if the respondent refuses to participate in alternative dispute resolution procedures within 30 days after a finding of probable cause, the human rights officer may prosecute the complaint and seek civil remedies pursuant to this Chapter. The city attorney or a qualified attorney-at-law designated by the commission shall serve as legal counsel to assist the human rights officer in fulfilling the duties of this Chapter. Any final action taken by the commission under this Chapter is subject to judicial review upon application of an aggrieved party;
(12) (11) Staff. The city shall provide administrative and investigative personnel, through the city's general budgetary process, to undertake the requirements of this Chapter;
(b) To promote cooperation among all persons and groups for the purpose of effectuating the purposes and policies of this Chapter;
(c) To confer with and advise the city's equal opportunity representative;
(d) To recommend legislation to the mayor and the city council which will further equal opportunity in the city;
(e) To make an annual written report of its activities to the city council and the mayor, which report shall also be released directly to the community and local news media;
(f) To establish rules and procedures for the conduct of its business;
(g) The Duluth human rights commission shall have any of the powers and duties of a local commission, as defined in Chapter 363 of Minnesota Statutes.

Section 2. That Chapter 29C of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended by adding a new Article II to provide as follows:

ARTICLE II

Sec. 29C-11. Fair Housing Act adopted.

The law on file with the clerk as Public Document No. _______________, the fair housing supplement, which document is a copy of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (42 USC 3601 et seq), in force on January 1, 2003, with certain modifications, is hereby adopted by reference in this section and made a part of the Duluth City Code, as authorized by Laws of Minnesota 2000, Chapter 402, accepted by the city by Resolution 00-0605. The aforementioned shall serve as the substantive rights, procedures, remedies and judicial review provisions available for implementation of the Fair Housing Act in the city of Duluth.

Sec. 29C-12. Choice of rights and remedies.

A person claiming discriminatory housing practices may elect to proceed under either the terms of Secs. 29C-1 through 29C-10, or under the terms of Secs. 29C-11 through 29C-12, but may not proceed under both.

Section 3. That this ordinance shall take effect and be in force 30 days from and after its passage and publication.


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  This ordinance is proposed so that the city of Duluth can request funding from HUD based on the city's human rights ordinance being certified as substantially equivalent on its face to the federal Fair Housing Act.

In Minnesota, the state human rights act has not been found to be substantially equivalent by HUD, and no other cities in Minnesota have substantially equivalent ordinances.

In order to allow the city to adopt an ordinance which would be substantially equivalent and to allow the city's human rights commission to enforce certain remedies, sanctions and penalties set out in the federal Fair Housing Act, the city obtained passage of a special law in 2000 which allows the city to exercise powers which may not be available in state law in housing discrimination matters.

If they city's ordinance is found to be substantially equivalent, HUD will offer the city interim certification for three years, and HUD will examine during that period whether the rights, procedures, remedies and the availability of judicial review are substantially equivalent to the federal Fair Housing Act in operation. Final certification is for a renewable term of five years.

Substantially equivalent agencies with interim certification are eligible to receive funding from HUD, and upon receiving interim certification, the city would expect to apply for such funds.