Does the owner of an apartment building, condominium complex, or any other property have a duty to provide adequate onsite parking for guests? The California Second District Court of Appeal considered this question in the recently published case Issakhani v. Shadow Glen Homeowners Association, Inc.i
Plaintiff Anaeis Issakhani was struck by a car while jaywalking across a five-lane street.ii She was crossing the street to visit a friend who lived at the Shadow Glen condominium complex.iii She had parked her car on the far side of the street after trying unsuccessfully to find a parking space inside the complex.iv She sustained a traumatic brain injury as well as skull fractures.v
The Shadow Glen complex was built in 1979 on a parcel of land originally zoned for single and dual family housing.vi The property was rezoned for a multifamily dwelling by way of an ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council.vii The ordinance was enacted on five conditions, one of which required “guest parking be provided at a ratio of one-half space per dwelling unit in excess of that otherwise required by the municipal code.”viii Therefore, because the complex has 68 units, the ordinance required the property be equipped with 34 guest parking spaces.ix The complex had only six designated guest parking spaces at the time of the incident in 2014.x
Ms. Issakhani sued the Shadow Glen Homeowners Association (“Association”) as the owner of the complex for negligence and premises liability.xi She claimed the Association created a foreseeable risk of harm to guests of the complex because it failed to maintain the number of visitor parking spots required by the zoning ordinance.xii The trial court disagreed and granted summary judgment for the Association on the ground it owed no such duty under the ordinance or the common law.xiii Ms. Issakhani appealed.
The Second District Court of Appeal recognized landowners have a common law duty to “maintain land in their possession and control in a reasonably safe condition” as well-established California law.xiv Therefore, it was presented with the following question: Does the Association’s common law duty as landowner encompass a duty to protect an invitee such as Ms. Issakhani against injuries incurred offsite due to an alleged deficiency such an inadequate number of guest parking spaces?xv
The Court answered this question in the negative by first citing “a [long] line of cases that have consistently refused to impose a duty upon landowners to provide onsite parking to protect their invitees from the dangers of crossing nearby streets to access the property.”xvi The Court reasoned public policy counsels against imposing such a duty because “the ‘connection between the landowner’s conduct and the injury suffered’ is ‘attenuated’ rather than ‘close.’”xvii “[The] persons best suited to prevent future harm from street-crossing accidents…are the ‘drivers and invitees themselves.” xviii
The Court next declined to extend the Association’s duty based on the grounds the zoning ordinance was not designed to protect invitees such as Ms. Issakhani from traffic accidents occuring when they park off site.xix It did not enact a broad, generally applicable rule of conduct on the basis of general public policy.xx On the contrary, it was specific to a single parcel and therefore incapable of forming the basis for a duty of care.xxi
What does this mean in practical terms? While a landowner’s does have a duty to avoid exposing persons to an unreasonable risk of injury, it does not encompass a duty to protect or provide onsite parking to guests such as Ms. Issakhani.
i Issakhani v. Shadow Glen Homeowners Association, Inc. (2021) 278 Cal.Rptr.3d 270, 273-274, 277.
ii Id. at pp. 273-274.
iii Id. at p. 274.
xii Id. at p. 275
xiv Id. at p. 276, citing Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th 666, 674.
xv Id. at p. 276
xvi Id. at p. 277, citing Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1077.
xvii Id. at p. 278 citing Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1077, 1083, 1086.
xviii Id. at p.279 citing Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1077, 1090
xix Id. at p. 281
xx Id. at p. 280