may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
City of Minneapolis,
Thomas A. Swanson,
Filed August 19, 1997
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 96-076142
Steven H. Berndt, 941 Hillwind Road N.E., #301, Fridley, MN 55432 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
Thomas A. Swanson appeals from his conviction for violating Minneapolis, Minn., Code of Ordinances § 244.1840 (1991). The ordinance requires a property owner's residence address on a rental license application and specifically prohibits the use of a post office box as an address. Swanson, who refused to disclose his residence address and instead used a post office box as his address, claims that the ordinance infringes on his constitutional right to informational privacy and is not rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest. Because Swanson's right to informational privacy is not implicated and the ordinance is rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest, we affirm.
When a case is decided on stipulated or undisputed facts, the only issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in its application of the law. Hubred v. Control Data Corp., 442 N.W.2d 308, 310 (Minn. 1989). A reviewing court is not bound by and need not give deference to a trial court's decision on a purely legal issue. Stoebe v. Merastar Ins. Co., 554 N.W.2d 733, 735 (Minn. 1996).
Ordinances, like statutes, are presumed valid and constitutional unless shown to violate the constitution beyond a reasonable doubt. City of Richfield v. Local No. 1215, Int'l Ass'n of Firefighters, 276 N.W.2d 42, 45 (Minn. 1979); State v. Ellis, 476 N.W.2d 662, 664 (Minn. App. 1991), review denied (Minn. Dec. 13, 1991). The burden of proof is on the party attacking the validity of the ordinance. Ellis, 476 N.W.2d at 664.
2. Right to Privacy
The right to informational privacy protects fundamental rights and a person's most intimate private affairs. See State v. Gray, 413 N.W.2d 107, 111 (Minn. 1987) (right of privacy protects only fundamental rights); In re Agerter, 353 N.W.2d 908, 914-15 (Minn. 1984) (judge's right of privacy implicated during investigation by Board on Judicial Standards investigation where information sought by Board involved "the most intimate of human activities and relationships," information was not matter of public concern, and there was no allegation of misconduct by the judge). A residence address neither affects a person's fundamental right nor implicates a person's most intimate private affairs. See State v. Smith, 367 N.W.2d 497, 505 (Minn. 1985) (any constitutional right person has to informational privacy "clearly does not extend to his address"). Thus, Swanson's residence address is not protected by the right to informational privacy.
3. Rational Relationship
Governmental action that does not implicate a fundamental right or a suspect class violates an individual's due process rights only when it has no rational relationship to a legitimate governmental interest. Essling v. Markman, 335 N.W.2d 237, 239 (Minn. 1983). The issue is not whether the legislature's policy is wise, but whether there is any rational relationship between the ordinance and its objective. Id. at 240.
Swanson contends that the ordinance is not rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest. We disagree. The most certain means of contacting a property owner is through his residence address, not his post office box or telephone number. By providing a residence address, the city can contact the property owner immediately, even if telephone lines are down, the property owner has changed his telephone number, or the property owner has refused to answer the telephone. Furthermore, first-class mail takes at least one day to be delivered. If a property owner does not check his mail on a regular basis, many days could pass before the city would succeed in contacting the property owner. In light of the foregoing scenarios, we conclude that requiring a residence address on a rental license application is rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest.