Just over a year ago, on October 1, 2008, the California Court of Appeal issued a fairly rare ruling: it found a public agency had committed a regulatory taking and remanded the matter back to the trial court to determine the amount of damages to be paid to the property owners. Specifically, the Court held in Monks v. City of Ranchos Palos Verdes that the City of Ranchos Palos Verdes’ rules preventing development in an area susceptible to landslides (the infamous Portuguese Bend landslide area) constituted a regulatory taking that was not justified by the city’s power to regulate nuisances and protect the public interest. (For more details, Brad Kuhn and I wrote an article for the California Real Estate Journal, “California Court of Appeal Opens The Door to Regulatory Takings Claims,” that details the holding in the case, and its potential implications.)
Today, Jeff Gottlieb’s article in the Los Angeles Times “Legal battle over land use engulfs Portuguese Bend” reports that the trial on the regulatory takings damages is fast approaching:
The appeals court decision didn’t end the fighting, nor did the state Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case. A trial is set to start Dec. 1 to determine how much the land in the Monks’ case is worth and whether Rancho Palos Verdes owes damages to the plaintiffs.
For those wanting more background, the article also provides some details about the history of the suit that are not found in the Court of Appeal opinion. And it describes a whole new round of litigation that the dispute has generated: litigation aimed at stopping future development on the lands subject to the moratorium by demanding preparation of an environmental impact report.
It appears that the issues with Portuguese Bend will continue to keep lawyers busy for years to come.
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times/Rancho Palos Verdes