Man fights city’s efforts to evict him, family from house

A San Mateo homeowner's attorney will argue in court next month that City Hall's attempt to eject him from his property is unconstitutional, according to arguments filed last week.

The city of San Mateo in March accused Olaiha Fonua Sr. of failing to clean up an unsafe and unsanitary environment at and around his home at 107 N. Grant St., linking everything from litter to violent assaults on both nearby residents and police officers to the house and its residents. The city sought a court order from San Mateo Superior Court to eject him from the home for a period of one year, during which the home could only be sold or rented to a court-approved party. The city also wants Fonua to abide by a series of conditions designed to improve the neighborhood after that year is over.

In a legal motion filed April 18, Fonua's attorney John Hartford said forcing Fonua and his family to leave their home is “precluded by the First Amendment rights of association.”

He also argued that there is no legal authority that could require Fonua to take reasonable measures to prevent criminal activity on the premises. Two of Fonua’s sons pleaded no contest last year to assaulting a police officer at the home, and Fonua was convicted of a misdemeanor for interfering in the same incident.

“Although the plaintiff may have a crystal ball prescience as to what future criminal conduct may be perpetrated by those persons presently in custody, the attribution of those to thedefendant borders on ludicrous,” Hartford wrote.

City Attorney Shawn Mason said the city would be filing its response to the arguments within a week, and declined to comment prior to filing. A hearing is scheduled for May 17.

Fonua and Hartford did not return calls for comment.

kwilliamson@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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