• Posts by Jillian Friess Leivas
    Associate

    Jillian Friess Leivas focuses her practice on eminent domain laws and regulations. She has experience assisting with the right-of-way process, from precondemnation acquisition activities through to preparing pleadings and ...

Changes in the Law - Eminent Domain and Infrastructure Update

Please join us on November 4th as we present “Changes in the Law - Eminent Domain and Infrastructure Update” during the 2022 Right of Way Consultants Council’s (ROWCC) Fall Membership Meeting in Las Vegas, NV. During this session, we’ll discuss key U.S. cases and legislation, pending and adopted, from the last year that impact the eminent domain and right of way industries. Additionally, we will discuss ... 

An update to our original 2011 post

As we have previously discussed, downzoning (changing the zoning designation for property from a more intensive use to a more restrictive use) can possibly rise to the level of a regulatory taking, depending on each individual situation. A recent case, FFV Coyote LLC v. City of San Jose, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195036, analyzed this issue at the motion to dismiss stage and concluded that the plaintiffs had sufficiently plead a Fifth Amendment regulatory takings claim to survive a motion to dismiss.

Background

Plaintiffs own property in San Jose ...

An Inverse Condemnation Claim Arising From a Public Project’s General Construction Activities Requires a Unique, Peculiar, and Substantial Impact to Property

When public projects are being constructed, surrounding property owners typically experience construction impacts, such as noise, dust, fumes, vibration, and road detours.  Typically, absent a physical taking of property, those construction impacts are not compensable under an inverse condemnation claim unless the property owner experiences a direct, substantial, and peculiar impact.  While this has generally been the law in California for quite some time, a recent published California Court of Appeal decision, Today’s IV, Inc. v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan ...

Summary of Major Eminent Domain Cases & Legislation: January 1, 2022 - May 31, 2022

In the most recent biannual report from the Real Estate Law Committee of the International Right of Way Association, we collaborated with Robert Thomas and Ajay Gajaria to examine numerous cases at local, state and federal levels from January to the end of May 2022 that are of interest for professionals in the right-of-way industry.

In the report we also take a brief look at pending, failed and adopted legislation, while also providing updates on federal funds that have been or have yet to be allocated through the recent Infrastructure Bill. The report also provides a breakdown of ...

Posted in Court Decisions
California Coastal Act Trumps Local City Regulations Banning Short-Term Housing Rentals

Housing in California is a hot topic, particularly when the short-term rentals are thrown into the mix. Those opposed to short-term rentals often argue that it removes permanent housing stock from the market and that such rentals negatively impact communities and reduce surrounding property values due to the temporary character of the residents, constant turn-over, noise and overuse. On the other hand, short-term rentals may be an opportunity to maximize income from one’s property, and many investors purchase properties based on their income-generating potential. …

Posted in Court Decisions
Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees Not Permissible for Lawyer/Spouse Plaintiffs Under Uniform Relocation Act

A recent Federal Circuit case, Haggart v. United States, No. 21-1660 (June 22, 2022) determined that under the Uniform Relocation Act, like other fee-shifting statutes, attorneys’ fees are not recoverable if the lawyer is one of the litigants.

Background

This case originally started as a rails-to-trails class action case out of Washington State.  A husband and wife were part of the class that alleged their property was taken.  This proceeding was brought in order to recover compensation for the taking of property by a federal agency.  The Uniform Relocation Act comes into play ...

Posted in Right-of-Way
Ch-Ch-Changes in the Law: Eminent Domain and Infrastructure Update

Earlier this month, we gave a presentation during the International Right of Way Association’s 68th Annual Education Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. In keeping with the “rock and roll” theme, our session, “Ch-Ch-Changes in the Law: Eminent Domain and Infrastructure Update,” provided an overview of recent case law and legislation impacting the eminent domain and the right of way industries across the U.S. Additionally, we provided an update on the Infrastructure Bill, where funding and projects are kicking off, and discussed potential barriers to fully taking ...

Eminent Domain 2021 Year in Review

Brad Kuhn and Jillian Friess Leivas authored the article “Eminent Domain 2021 Year in Review” for The Appraisal Journal. The article takes an in-depth look at multiple developments on the eminent domain front that occurred in 2021, including the special occasion when the U.S. Supreme Court heard two taking cases. It also examines the impact of the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which aims to provide federal funding for infrastructure projects for many years to come.

The Appraisal Journal is a publication of The Appraisal Institute, a global ...

Posted in Court Decisions
Conveyance Language Determines Scope of Rights

The language in conveyance and real estate documents impacts the type of property interests that are created and conveyed and defines the scope of those interests.  The importance of documentary language was crucial in a recent unpublished California Court of Appeal case, Canyon Vineyard Estates I, LLC v. DeJoria, 2022 Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 3414, which discussed issues of fee conveyance, conservation easements, and subordination issues.

Background

A property owner owned over 400 acres of undeveloped land along the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific coastline.  The owner ...

Recent and Proposed Legislation Impacting the Eminent Domain & ROW Industry

On April 5, 2022, Brad Kuhn and Jillian Friess Leivas will present “Recent and Proposed Legislation Impacting the Eminent Domain & ROW Industry” during the Eminent Domain & Right of Way Club's virtual Lounge Event.

Brad and Jillian will discuss how recent legislation is impacting the Eminent Domain and Right of Way (ROW) industry and will review the trends observed in recent and proposed legislation.

Lounge Events are hosted exclusively on the Clubhouse app and are held the first and third weeks of every month.

The Eminent Domain & Right of Way Club is geared toward right of way ...

Summary of Major U.S. Eminent Domain Cases & Legislation

The International Right of Way Association (IRWA) recently released its annual report, which contains summaries of eminent domain decisions and legislation within the United States, and is an important resource and reference point for professionals in the right-of-way industry. IRWA’s Real Estate Law Committee – which is chaired by Brad Kuhn, Chair of our Eminent Domain & Valuation Group – releases the report biannually. Brad and Nossaman Eminent Domain & Valuation Group associate Jillian Friess Leivas authored the report along with Robert Thomas, the Joseph T ...

2021 Eminent Domain Case Law Year in Review

Throughout all of the ups and downs in 2021, there have been multiple developments on the eminent domain front, including the special occasion where the U.S. Supreme Court heard a takings case. Outside of case law, 2021 saw the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed, which aims to provide federal funding for infrastructure projects for many years to come. All in all, 2021 was a fairly busy year for right-of-way and eminent domain practitioners.

Click here for summaries of the prominent cases and developments in eminent domain from 2021...

Water Utility Avoids Inverse Condemnation Liability

Generally, if utilities with the right of eminent domain cause damage to private property during the operation of their facilities, they may face inverse condemnation liability. However, where the facility in question is not operating for the “public use” and instead was installed pursuant to a private contract, inverse condemnation may be inapplicable. … 

Posted in Court Decisions
Balancing the Grantor and Grantee’s Rights to Use an Easement

Some easements will contain express language that delineates the respective rights of the grantor and grantee to make use of the easement.  Other times, even absent express language, a grantor can be prevented from using an easement if such use would unreasonably interfere with the rights of the easement holder.  For further discussion of an example when express easement language is not needed to limit the use of the easement by the grantor, check out our prior post entitled “Utilities Have the Right to Remove Trees Within an Easement.” …. 

Eminent Domain Helps Satisfy Conditions of Approval

Developers often have to satisfy various conditions of approval in order to achieve the necessary approvals to move forward with a project.  Sometimes these conditions include requirements to acquire land for public improvements, such as a new sewer line or road, and those improvements are often located on property not owned by the developer.  When the developer is unable to acquire those rights through voluntary negotiations, the city imposing the conditions of approval is generally required to use eminent domain to acquire the rights for the developer …

Court Determines a Lease Terminated by the Terms of the Contract, not by a Taking

When is a lease termination triggered by eminent domain versus by contract?  The case of Media v. City of San Diego, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103728 addressed this question and concluded that the lease termination was only a product of the lease naturally terminating, not the governmental acquisition of the underlying property.  This opinion raises questions regarding the future of loss of goodwill and furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) for short-term tenants.

Background

A billboard owner had been leasing property to display the billboard for many years when it was converted to a ...

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Funding for California Infrastructure Projects May Be on the Horizon

A federal aid package that is aimed at improving aging infrastructure and stimulating new transportation projects is in the works. The Los Angeles Times recently reported on the federal initiative and what it could mean for California infrastructure and agencies. 

The article highlights a handful of the many California agencies and projects that would be vying for a portion of the funds, should the package get approved. For those of us in Southern California, there are a multitude of potential projects that would be aided by federal funds – upgraded passenger rails in anticipation ...

“Futility Exception” Satisfies the Ripeness Requirement for Inverse Condemnation Claims

In order for a property owner to successfully pursue a regulatory takings claim for inverse condemnation, the owner is typically required to pursue multiple different development options, and face multiple permit denials, before a claim will be ripe. However, a recent California Court of Appeal opinion, Felkay v. City of Santa Barbara, 2021 Cal.App. LEXIS 225, held that “multiple applications are not required where the permit denial makes clear that no development of the property would be allowed under any circumstance.”

Background

In this case, a property owner applied to ...

What Can I Do When the Perfect Case is Unpublished?

Sometimes there is a case that seems to perfectly address the legal issue you are trying to make and the facts line up, but the case is unpublished. According to the California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115, unpublished cases generally cannot be relied upon. But, if you are quick enough, there is a possible way to request such cases become published.

This was a question we recently received during our 2020 Year-in-Review Eminent Domain webinar. If you weren’t able to join us during the webinar, you can still watch the recording here. Also, keep an eye out for other Nossaman webinars, as ...

Posted in Court Decisions
COVID-19 Update: Takings Lawsuits May be Making Headway

We have been following for some time now the COVID-19 takings lawsuits that have been popping up since California’s first closure orders. As we previously reported, these cases did not seem to be making much traction in the courts. However, one ongoing case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California may be trending in the opposite direction.

In the case of Bols v. Newsom (2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15237), Plaintiffs’ businesses (commercial landlord, hair and nail salons) were deemed non-essential per the public health orders and experienced the ...

Posted in Court Decisions
A Public Utility May Not Qualify as a “Public Utility”

The Refugio Oil Spill in 2015 resulted in not only impacts to a highly diverse stretch of California’s coast, but also years of associated litigation. In a recent California Court of Appeal opinion, State Lands Commission v. Plains Pipeline, L.P., No. B295632 (Nov. 19, 2020), the court held that the judicial doctrine establishing that public utilities do not owe the public a duty to provide their services continuously and without interruption did not apply to Plains Pipeline, L.P. and its affiliates (collectively, “Plains Pipeline”) on the ground that despite being a public ...

Posted in Court Decisions
Agency Obligations May Not Be Circumvented Through Unique Statutory Interpretation

Sometimes a public agency ends up abandoning an eminent domain proceeding, even after the property owner or business has moved from the property. Under Code of Civil Procedure, section 1268.620, if a defendant “moves from property” and the agency subsequently dismisses the suit, the owner/business may be able to recover payment of all damages proximately caused by the proceeding and its dismissal.  One would think determining whether an owner/occupant has “moved” from the property would not be an issue for dispute.  But a recent unpublished California Court of Appeal ...

California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain in California. We cover all aspects of eminent domain in California, including condemnation, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts, and report on all major California eminent domain conferences and seminars.

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