Posts tagged Court Decisions.
Posted in Court Decisions

In a recent published decision, the California Court of Appeal had the opportunity to address this issue when the property owners of a beachside residence in the City of Los Angeles challenged a setback condition that the California Coastal Commission imposed on their proposed home remodel.  (See Greene v. Cal. Coastal Com. (Oct. 9, 2019) Case No. B293301.)


Background

Under the Coastal Act, property owners are required to obtain a Coastal Development Permit for “development” within the coastal zone.  “Development” is defined very broadly in the Coastal Act, and includes ...

Posted in Events

Please join Nossaman Eminent Domain & Valuation Partner Rick Rayl at CLE International's 21st Anniversary Southern California Eminent Domain Conference.  The event will be held from Thursday, January 31st through Friday, February 1st at the DoubleTree Downtown in Los Angeles.  Rick will participate in the presentation, Case Law Update:  The Latest Developments, on January 31st at 10:45 a.m.  Additional topics covered during the conference will include: Government Regulation of Short-Term Vacation Rentals, Insights into Severance Damages, and California’s Wildfires and Potential Inverse ...

In a recent unpublished Court of Appeal decision, Downs v. City of Redding (October 30, 2018), the Court took up two distinct issues: (a) whether a contractor’s use of property for construction staging constitutes a taking when such use is not authorized by the agency, and (b) whether "just compensation" requires payment of damages for the taking of a tree.  Both of these issues are common occurrences in many of the projects we work on and while the Court’s holdings may not come as a surprise, they are a good reminder of the fairness and equity courts apply to such issues ...

Posted in Court Decisions

It’s a Friday afternoon and I decided to take a quick look at the advance sheets for any newly decided appellate cases involving eminent domain. My search revealed an unpublished decision that came out yesterday (September 7, 2017) called Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency v. Souza, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 6117. I’ll provide the highlights below.

Facts:

This matter involved an acquisition by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SACFA) of approximately 2.2 acres of land for the Natomas Levee Improvement Program. The acquisition was needed to widen the levee along ...

Under inverse condemnation law in California, a public agency is generally strictly liable for physical damage to private property caused by a public improvement.  This means a public agency can be held liable even if the public improvement was properly designed, constructed and maintained.  Rarely is there a question of whether a project constitutes a "public improvement," but in Mercury Casualty Co. v. City of Pasadena (Aug. 24, 2017), the Court of Appeal recently addressed this issue and held that a tree constitutes a work of public improvement for purposes of inverse ...

When a business is taken as a result of a public improvement, the business is entitled to seek compensation for, among other things, loss of business goodwill. Typically, this loss is calculated by measuring the business’ before-condition value and comparing to its after-condition value.  This traditional methodology was the cornerstone for business goodwill appraisers to determine just compensation.  Yet late last year, the California Court of Appeal issued a ruling in People ex rel. Dep't of Transp. v. Presidio Performing Arts Found. (2016) 5 Cal. App.5th 190 which may have ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Every year or so, a new appellate court decision comes out addressing the proper role of the judge versus the jury on some certain eminent domain issue. Most recently, a trial court, appellate court and the California Supreme Court all grappled with this question:  Does the judge determine whether a dedication requirement is constitutional, or does the jury?  Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in City of Perris v. Stamper, No. S213468 (Aug. 15, 2016) holding that it is the role of the judge to determine whether a dedication requirement is constitutional.  The ...

In an unpublished opinion filed this week, the California Court of Appeal confirmed two fundamental evidentiary rules related to eminent domain matters:

  1. A witness intending to testify to an opinion of value must exchange a statement of valuation data; and
  2. A witness will be precluded from testifying to a comparable sale if it is determined by the court that the comparable is not comparable and would confuse the jury.

Before we delve into the case, here’s a basic reminder of California law as it pertains to these two issues:

With respect to the court’s first finding, California Code of ...

Posted in Court Decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last year in Koontz v. St. John's River Water Management District received quite a bit of national coverage in the development world.  If you'll recall, Koontz held that the nexus and proportionality standards that apply to the government's attempt to exact land in exchange for a land use permit similarly apply to monetary exactions.  While the decision may have caused a change in the entitlement process in other states, this was generally already the rule in California under the Mitigation Fee Act.  So deciphering just how Koontz would impact ...

During a windstorm, a tree owned by the City of Pasadena fell on Mr. O’Halloran’s residence, causing damage to his home. Mercury Casualty Company paid Mr. O’Halloran for the damage pursuant to his homeowner’s insurance policy, and then sued the City for inverse condemnation and nuisance based on the damages caused by the City’s tree.

Inverse Condemnation

To state a cause of action for inverse condemnation, the plaintiff must allege that defendant substantially participated in the planning, approval, construction or operation of a public project or improvement which ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Valuing mineral rights in eminent domain proceedings is inherently speculative and can lead to wide swings in property valuations.  So how do appraisers best deal with the uncertainty involved in mineral exploitation?  The California Court of Appeal recently provided some guidance in San Diego Gas & Electric Company v. Arnold J. Schmidt et al. (2014) 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5090.  

In Schmidt, the Court allowed the introduction of the property owner’s appraiser’s valuing 115 acres of vacant in San Diego based on the projected future income the property would generate for mining ...

Posted in Court Decisions

If you ask ten attorneys what keeps them up at night, at least six of them will recount nightmares about missing a filing deadline.  I know what you're thinking.  How hard can it be?  You just look in the Code, find the applicable limitations period, and then you're off.  However, as with all things law related, it very rarely is that simple.  In a recent decision issued by the Second Appellate District, the court explained why filing deadlines are not the only thing practitioners should have nightmares about.  In Excelaron, LLC v. County of San Luis Obispo

Posted in Court Decisions

"Motions in limine" are motions made shortly before trial, and they're typically filed in an attempt to limit the introduction of evidence to the jury.  They are a powerful tool in eminent domain proceedings, and can be used to limit an appraiser's comparable sales, valuation methodology, or even the expert's entire testimony.  In a recent unpublished California Court of Appeal decision, Verizon of California v. Carrick (2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5030), the Court even approved of the use of an in limine motion to determine whether a party had a compensable interest in the property ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Californians who have owned their properties for years understand the benefits of Proposition 13: their property taxes are based upon the property's purchase price (with only small allowable annual increases), as opposed to the property's current value.  But upon a transfer, the property gets reassessed at its current value.  Consequently, people in California often wind up with higher property taxes when they sell one property and buy another, even if the new property costs exactly what they received for the sale of the old property.

When an owner is forced to "sell" as a result of the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Just a few months ago, the California Court of Appeal handed down a significant decision in Property Reserve v. Superior Court which nearly eviscerated public agencies' ability to make use of the statutory "right of entry" procedure to gain access to private property to conduct any significant investigations and testing.  The Court held that any notable physical intrusion onto private property constituted a taking, meaning the public agency needed to proceed with an eminent domain proceeding.  The decision caused an uproar among public agencies across the state.  Well, pump the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

In June of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Horne v. Department of Agriculture holding that California raisin handlers could assert a takings claim as an affirmative defense to an enforcement action filed by the United States.  I am happy to point out that in our analysis of the Supreme Court's decision, we explained that "[n]o court has yet found that the Hornes were subject to an unconstitutional taking; rather, the Supreme Court merely held that the jurisdictional argument relied on by the Ninth Circuit to avoid a decision on the merits was ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Last week, the Court of Appeal issued a decision that may be one of the ones we look back on as among the most significant of 2014 (at least in the world of eminent domain).  For years (and certainly for the entire 20 years I've been doing this), public agencies have utilized a statutory "right of entry" procedure to gain access to private property to conduct investigations and testing before deciding whether to move forward with a condemnation action.  (See Code of Civil Procedure section 1245.010 et seq.)  Often, this happens during the CEQA process, as agencies try to assess the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

On March 7th, a U.S. District Court sided with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on whether the Uniform Relocation Act (URA) provides private property owners with a private right of action: it does not.  The Pacific Shores Property Owners Association sued the FAA over improvements the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority is required to make to a regional airport, Del Norte County Regional Airport, also known as Jack McNamera Field.  To meet the FAA's runway safety standards, the Authority had to close roads and acquire nearby lots to make up for the wetlands lost as a result ...

Posted in Court Decisions

In the latest in a string of recent U.S. Supreme Court cases that impact right of way issues, on Monday the Court issued its opinion in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States (Case No. 12-1173, March 10, 2014).  The issue in Brandt involved whether the U.S. Government retained a reversionary interest in the easements it granted to railroads pursuant to the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875. 

The decision would impact, in particular, the "rails-to-trails" program, designed to convert old, abandoned railroad rights of way to bike trails.  Under the program, the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

As we reported last month, the United States of America and the Federal Aviation Administration had filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the City of Santa Monica in federal court seeking to confirm its alleged right to control the fate of the Santa Monica Airport.  Yesterday, the federal court threw out the City's lawsuit, holding that:

  • The Quiet Title Claim was time-barred;
  • The takings claim had to be brought before the United States Court of Federal Claims pursuant to the Tucker Act; and
  • The Tenth Amendment and Fifth Amendment Due Process Claims were not ripe.  

The federal court ...

I saw a couple of California redevelopment-related stories over the past week that seemed worthy of at least a brief comment.

First, a court decision involving a rather bold argument by a public agency.

The City of Loma Linda, like so many California cities, used to have a redevelopment agency.  That redevelopment agency acquired property and embarked on various efforts to, well, redevelop things.  When Governor Brown eliminated California's redevelopment agencies, many projects were left in mid-stream.

In the case of Loma Linda, the redevelopment agency purchased some ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Earlier this month, the California Court of Appeal answered a question that had been outstanding for almost two decades: What standard of review applies to beneficial spot zoning? In Foothill Communities Coalition v. County of Orange, that question was finally answered when the Court held that beneficial spot zoning will be valid only when the record demonstrates that the zoning is "in the public interest."

In 1996, Associate California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk stated in a concurring decision that although courts are traditionally deferential with respect to zoning ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Landowners routinely have to give up something in return for a government agency’s granting a discretionary permit. However, there are limits, as the government agency cannot typically demand conditions that are not proportional or related to the impacts that would be created by the proposed project. These limits are referred to as the nexus and rough proportionality standards set forth in the well-known United States Supreme Court cases of Nollan v. California Coastal Commission (1987) 483 U.S. 825 and Dolan v. City of Tigard (1994) 512 U.S. 374.

In Powell v. County of ...

Posted in Court Decisions

On October 31, 2013, the City of Santa Monica filed a complaint in federal court against the United States of America and the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") with the hope of confirming its alleged right to control the fate of the Santa Monica Airport.  Both sides agree that:  (i) the City leased the airport property to the United States in 1941 to support the war effort, (ii) the United States made substantial improvements to the property, (iii) the United States terminated the lease in 1948, (iv) the 1948 instrument terminating the lease contained a reversionary clause, and ...

Posted in Court Decisions

In the second flooding decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the past two weeks, the court held that there was no physical taking because the property was never actually flooded and no de facto taking because no federal entity or regulation prohibited the plaintiffs from using their property.  (See Stueve Bros. Farms, LLC v. United States (No. 2013-5021, Dec. 11, 2013).)

In 1941, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the construction of the Prado Dam on the Santa Ana River near Corona, California.  Because the Army Corps anticipated that operation of ...

Posted in Court Decisions

As you may recall, last December we reported on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. United States, in which the Supreme Court held that government-induced flooding of limited duration may be compensable.  (See Supreme Court Holds Temporary Flooding Can Be A Taking.)  The Supreme Court explained that the relevant factors in determining whether a temporary flooding rises to the level of a compensable taking include:  (i) the degree to which the invasion is intended or is a foreseeable result of authorized government action, (ii) the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

In August, I reported on the decision in City of Perris v. Stamper, in which the Court of Appeal weighed in on the ever-shifting line dividing the judge and jury's roles in eminent domain cases. At the time, I poked a bit of fun at a former colleague,Rick Friess, who won the appeal but was still complaining that the Court didn't see everything exactly his way.

Well, it appears that my good friend hasn't quite given up yet. Last week, the California Supreme Court decided to hear the case, meaning Rick will have one more crack at his dedication argument. The Supreme Court is limiting its review to ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court decided one of two pending cases dealing with inclusionary housing, holding that when a public agency requires a developer to convey units at below market rates and make substantial cash payments, the developer may challenge these conditions under the California Mitigation Fee Act.  (Sterling Park v. City of Palo Alto (Oct. 17, 2013) 2013 Cal. Lexis 8112.)  The California Supreme Court’s decision clarifies the scope of the Mitigation Fee Act, confirming that inclusionary in-lieu fees are subject to the essential nexus and rough ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Eminent domain actions are unique in that "the court, rather than the jury, typically decides questions concerning the preconditions to recovery of a particular type of compensation, even if the determination turns on contested issues of fact."  (See Emeryville Redevelopment Agency v. Harcros Pigments, Inc. (2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 1083, 1116.)  This is consistent with the general rule in eminent domain that the jury’s role is only to determine the amount of damages, leaving other questions to be resolved by the Court.  While these factual disputes are typically decided by the judge ...

Posted in Court Decisions

The Supreme Court is apparently not done with its recent interest in takings decisions.  Following the decisions in Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. United StatesHorne v. Department of Agriculture, and Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt District, the Supreme Court announced today that it will hear another takings case, Marvin M. Brandt Irrevocable Trust v. United StatesThe Supreme Court's blog describes the issue in Brandt as follows:

Whether the United States retained an implied reversionary interest in rights-of-way created by the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Property owners are routinely hiring attorneys well in advance of a public agency's filing of an eminent domain action.  Many times, the representation begins before it is even certain whether the agency will actually move forward with acquiring the property.  And sometimes, claims for inverse condemnation may ripen during the public agency's construction of the project on other nearby properties.  When this overlap exists between inverse condemnation and potential future eminent domain actions, owners should be careful to assess how the attorney will be compensated.  A recent ...

Posted in Court Decisions

As reported by our colleague Robert Thomas on inversecondemnation.com, the California Supreme Court granted the California Building Industry Association's (CBIA) petition for review in California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose.  The case will be the first test in California post-Koontz on whether the nexus/proportionality requirements apply to general regulations such as affordable housing exactions.

The CBIA filed the petition after the Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District reversed and remanded the Superior Court's decision ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Eminent domain cases typically revolve around a "date of value" – the date on which property is valued in determining the amount of just compensation the condemning agency must pay.  That date is set by statute; typically, it is the date on which the agency deposits the amount of "probable compensation" to be awarded.  But sometimes, the agency's activities, such as project planning and acquisition efforts, negatively affect the value of the property.  In such circumstances, property owners may attempt to hold the agency responsible for such declines in value by claiming (1 ...

I'll give you a hint, this is a bit of a trick question.  Give up?  Okay.  Whenever you name a State agency, of course. 

In Lavine v. State of California (pdf), a property owner filed a lawsuit after the Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted, and the California State Water Resources Control Board approved, a ban on on-site septic systems in Malibu.  (Case No. B238030, Aug. 20, 2013, Unpublished.)  The plaintiff owned a single-family residence in Malibu that utilized an on-site septic system; no public sewer system was available to residences in the area.  Although the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Eminent domain attorneys struggle with a concept foreign to most civil litigators:  figuring out the roles of the judge and jury.  Even most non-attorneys know the basic rule of trial:  the jury is the "fact-finder."  But in eminent domain cases, things are a bit different. 

The jury still acts as fact-finder, but only in one arena:  the quest to determine the amount of just compensation to which the owner is entitled.  This narrow scope means that the judge ends up ruling on all issues of law, plus mixed issues of fact and law, plus pure issues of fact to the extent those issues don't go to the issue of ...

As an eminent domain lawyer, I sometimes feel about takings claims like Justice Potter Stewart felt about obscenityI know it when I see it.  But every so often, a case comes along that reminds us that we might need to dig just a little bit deeper. 

In TrinCo Investment Co. v. United States, No. 2012-5130 (July 18, 2013), it all starts out seeming so simple.  The government comes onto private property without permission, takes $6.6 million worth of timber without asking, and then wanders off without offering so much as a dime in just compensation.  Hard to miss this one:  it's an obvious taking. 

Posted in Court Decisions

It's not too often a property owner succeeds with an inverse condemnation/regulatory takings claim based on a general plan amendment or zone change.  The owner must generally demonstrate that the regulation either on its face, or when specifically applied to the owner's property, deprives the owner of the economically beneficial uses of the property.  The first attack (a "facial challenge") is difficult to prove, as it is uncommon that a general plan amendment/zone change is drafted in such a way that it -- on its face -- prevents all economic uses of the property.  The second attack (an ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Following up on my post on the case, I had the opportunity to speak with Colin O'Keefe of LXBN regarding the Supreme Court's ruling in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. In the interview, I explain the court's ruling and what impact it could have nationally. 

[embed]//www.youtube.com/embed/PUlL1r3LoXQ[/embed]

Posted in Court Decisions

In our niche practice of eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings, the blogosphere world is going bonkers.  Why?  Because the United State Supreme Court just issued its decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt District, No. 11-1447 (cert. granted Oct. 5, 2012), holding that the "essential nexus" and "rough proportionality" standards that apply to the government's attempt to exact land in exchange for a land use permit similarly apply to the government's attempt to demand monetary exactions.  This isn't necessarily shocking news for those of us ...

Posted in Court Decisions

In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court issued Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172, a landmark decision (as Supreme Court decisions often are) that drastically slashed the number of federal takings claims.  In Williamson County, the Supreme Court held that courts lack jurisdiction over federal regulatory takings claims unless a final decision has been issued and the property owner has exhausted all "adequate State procedures."  The Supreme Court also clarified that exhaustion of adequate State procedures generally requires ...

This week, the Supreme Court issued the second of its three takings decision for this term.  In Horne v. Department of Agriculture, No. 12-123 (June 10, 2013), the Court reversed an earlier decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that California raisin handlers could assert a takings claim as a defense to an enforcement action over alleged non-compliance with a raisin regulatory scheme.  

At first glance, the case appears to be of little consquence.  The factual background is quite unique, and the holding is pretty narrowly drawn to those specific ...

We have two big IRWA events coming up. 

IRWA Annual Education Conference

The biggest conference of the year, the IRWA Education Conference, starts June 23 in Charleston, West Virginia.  As always, there will be many great education sessions with strong panels of speakers.  There are also some fun social events and -- on Sunday and Monday -- an exhibition hall. 

Nossaman will be holding down the fort in Booth 305A, trying to keep the troublemakers next to us in line.  Yes, OPC, I'm talking about you

I will be there with my colleagues Ben Rubin, the incoming President for Chapter 67 in Orange ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Given the maze of procedural and substantive hurdles involved, property owners rarely succeed with regulatory takings claims.  Even when owners do win, it is yet more uncommon for courts to award damages, instead allowing the public agency to repeal the regulation.  But securing a victory on liability and a damages award for a temporary regulatory taking, well, that is nearly uncharted territory (going into the realm of unicorns, the Loch Ness Monster, and other mythical creatures); we've heard stories of such events, but it is rare to find reliable documentation.

That all changed ...

Posted in Court Decisions

An eminent decision out of the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals is not a common occurrence.  A Ninth Circuit eminent domain decision dealing with intangible property is even less common.  Yet, on April 26, 2013, the Ninth Circuit took it even one step further, issuing an eminent domain decision dealing with intangible property in which the condemning authority is an Indian Tribe.

Having explained just how rare it is to see this type of decision, I now need to make a confession.  While the Ninth Circuit decision arises out of an eminent domain action in which an Indian Tribe is ...

We've talked in the past about just how hard it is to state a regulatory takings claim under the Supreme Court's decision in Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104.  I'd go through the test and how hard it is again, but it's complicated, a lot of work and, quite frankly, I'm a bit tired today.  So here's my lazy approach.  Read one of our earlier posts on the subject: 

The bottom line is that the courts have ...

Posted in Court Decisions

California's loss of business goodwill statute, Code of Civil Procedure section 1263.510, provides that before a business can submit its goodwill claim to a jury in an eminent domain case, the business must first demonstrate that:

  1. The loss is caused by the taking;
  2. The loss cannot be prevented by relocation or other reasonable mitigation efforts; and
  3. The loss will not be covered through another form of compensation, such as relocation benefits.

In late-2012, the California Court of Appeal issued a decision in People ex rel. Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) v. Dry Canyon ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Acquiring property for public projects typically does not occur until after the project has received environmental approval. While this is the generally accepted rule – and it makes sense for a number of reasons – must a project receive environmental clearance before an agency may begin the property acquisition process? In a recent published decision, Golden Gate Land Holdings, LLC v. East Bay Regional Park District, the California Court of Appeal answered no, and permitted an agency to proceed in reverse order: filing an eminent domain action prior to its complying with the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

According to an article in the Daily Republic, Jury: County owes $1.24M in eminent domain dispute, Solano County and a local land owner recently completed an eminent domain trial, and the jury sided with the owner.  The case, Solano County v. Valine, involved the County's partial acquisition of about 10 acres through the middle of the owner's 82-acre farmland in order to develop the Suisun Valley Parkway.  

Our esteemed colleague, professor Gideon Kanner, reports that the government agency initially offered $575,000 for the partial acquisition.  After no agreement could be reached ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Following the 2005 Kelo decision, California enacted a number of modest eminent domain reforms.  For eminent domain attorneys, the most significant changes arguably came in the procedures for obtaining prejudgment possession.  This can be a major issue on large public improvement projects, as construction schedules and funding commitments are often tied to the date on which the condemning agency secures possession of the property needed for the project.

The new laws both (1) shift the balance of power somewhat away from the agency and towards the property owner, and (2) extend the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

For those of you who have followed Nossaman's blog since the very early days, you'll recall our coverage of a significant regulatory takings case, Monks v. City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  The 2008 California decision received much press coverage in that it was one of the very few instances where property owners overcame the myriad substantive and procedural obstacles and succeeded under a regulatory takings theory.  While the Court found a taking occurred, the case was remanded back to the trial court to determine the appropriate remedy.  Now, nearly five years later, the dispute has now ...

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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