AUBURN WOODS I HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION et al., Plaintiffs and
FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING COMMISSION, Defendant and
ABDELFATAH ELEBIARI et al., Real Parties in Interest and Appellants.
California Court of Appeal, Third District, Placer County
August 25, 2004
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Gov. Code §
12900 et seq.; subsequent unspecified statutory references are to the Government Code),
it is an unlawful practice to refuse “to make reasonable accommodations in rules,
policies, practices, or services when these accommodations may be necessary to afford a
disabled person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.” (§§ 12927, subd. (c)(1),
Ed Elebiari was involved in a serious car accident in 1991 and suffered brain damage
that required three surgeries. He is hydrocephalic, has a seizure disorder, has severe
headaches, and suffers from depression. At times he feels so debilitated that he feels he is
“just barely staying alive day by day.” His psychiatrist, Dr. Schnitzler, diagnosed him as
having bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and seizure disorder.
Dr. Schnitzler considered Ed to be permanently disabled and incapable of working.
Ed’s wife, Jayne, also suffered from depression. Dr. Schnitzler and Dr. Lasser, a
psychologist, both diagnosed her condition as “major depression, recurrent,” meaning
that serious episodes of depression, lasting from nine months to one year, return as
recurrent episodes. During these episodes, Jayne has sleeping problems, lacks
concentration, engages in acts of self-mutilation, and avoids social interaction. Dr.
Schnitzler believed Jayne would do fairly well if treated with medication, and thought she
could continue working.
In 1998, the Elebiaris bought a condominium at Auburn Woods. Section 6.17 of the
condominium’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R’s) provides: “No reptiles
or animals shall be permitted in the Condominium Units or on the property except that
pet birds and domestic house cats (limit of 2) shall be allowed so long as they do not
constitute a nuisance to the neighbors and other residents. The Board of Directors has the
discretion to adopt reasonable rules and regulations in regard to the keeping of these
specifically enumerated pets so as to avoid nuisance problems or health and safety
No dogs are allowed to be kept anywhere in the development
.” (Italics added.)