Posts tagged Inverse Condemnation.

As we all get into the holiday spirit, don’t forget to keep your skills and knowledge sharp for what is looking to shape up as a very active 2020 in the projects arena.  Join our Nossaman Partners for the following year-end conferences before settling in for your long winter’s nap! ...

We recently reported on the California Supreme Court’s decision in Oroville which provided a relaxed standard for public agencies facing inverse condemnation claims.  Since that decision, a new unpublished Court of Appeal decision provides further guidance and supports the “reasonableness” analysis considered in Oroville, although in this case the decision was not as favorable to public entities with respect to determining whether the damage is caused by a public or private improvement ...

Inverse condemnation litigation and liability has become a particularly hot topic in California over the last several years.  Not many attorneys specialize in this area, and there are a number of traps for the unwary lawyers, public agencies, and property owners involved in such litigation.  A recent Court of Appeal decision provides some important lessons for all parties involved, including the risks of settling inverse condemnation claims with insurance companies, and pitfalls in recovering attorneys' fees ...

On June 5, 2019, the California Supreme Court (Court) heard oral argument in the case City of Oroville v. Superior Court of Butte County, Case No. S243247 (Oroville Case). This case is notable because it is the first time that the Court is weighing in on a significant case concerning the doctrine of inverse condemnation since Bunch v. Coachella Valley Water District ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Like the vast majority of general civil litigation, eminent domain matters usually settle before going to trial.  The resolution is typically documented in either a stipulated judgment or a settlement agreement.  What is unique to eminent domain, however, is that the settlements oftentimes take place before the public project is fully constructed, meaning the parties are resolving their claims based on the "project as proposed," without seeing the actual finished product or fully understanding its impacts on the property.  In documenting a settlement, property owners can ...

Posted in Events

We welcome you to join our Partners at several upcoming presentations on eminent domain topics taking place near and far.

First, Nossaman's Eminent Domain & Valuation Practice Group Chair Brad Kuhn will be presenting during Nossaman's 2019 Land Use Seminar on May 21st, in Costa Mesa, CA.  Brad will be part of a discussion concerning the very timely topics of Managed Retreat and Sea Level Rise.  This is an area of great interest for both private landowners, cites and towns, and public agencies alike, and the presentation will provide an overview of the current proposals and ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Many public agencies and utilities have easements for water or gas pipelines or electric transmission lines.  Those easements typically contain express rights to construct, operate, and maintain the facilities, including rights of access; but oftentimes the easements are silent on what rights are reserved to the private property owner, including whether the owner can place trees or other improvements within the easement area.  As utilities and public agencies are undertaking more thorough efforts to protect and maintain their rights-of-way, they are commonly seeking to remove ...

In Governor Gavin Newsom’s first State of the State address, he called for the creation of a strike force charged with developing a comprehensive strategy to address the destabilizing effect of catastrophic wildfires on the State.  On April 12, 2019, Governor Newsom announced the results of that dedicated effort, in the form of a report titled Wildfires and Climate Change: California’s Energy Future (Strike Force Report).  Governor Newsom also summarized the findings of the Strike Force Report in a press conference that can be viewed here.

The Strike Force Report first sets out ...

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 ...

With the recent widespread reports of sea-level rise triggered by global warming, the California Coastal Commission -- a state agency which regulates coastal development -- plans to release a proposal in early-2019 which provides guidelines to local jurisdictions on how to combat the potential impacts.  The stakes are enormous, as the Commission believes many homes along California's 1,100 miles of coastline will inevitably be wiped out by a rising ocean.  According to an article by Anne Mulkern in E&E News, Calif. prepares policy for coastal 'retreat', the suggested ...

When the government physically takes or occupies property without first going through the rigorous procedural requirements under California eminent domain law, usually it's a clear-cut case of inverse condemnation liability.  But a recent California Court of Appeal case provides a unique exception involving property subject to dedication.

In Prout v. California Department of Transportation (Dec. 18, 2018, 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8523),  Caltrans sought to use a 1.3-acre strip of land to make improvements to Highway 12 in Calveras ...

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 New Legislation

On August 31, 2018, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 901, which addresses a number of wildfire-related items relating to public utilities.  Governor Brown signed the Bill into law on September 21, 2018.

While the bill introduces a series of new changes, it is particularly noteworthy for what it does not include from Governor Brown’s initial June 2018 proposal for wildfire liability reform.  At least for the time being, lawmakers abandoned the most controversial aspect of Governor Brown’s proposal for the bill: modifying California's strict liability ...

When a governmental agency improperly denies a permit application for a new development, and the proposed development is thereby delayed, does this result in a regulatory taking?  As we've seen in some prior cases, such improper governmental actions can trigger liability, but it is uncommon.  A recent Court of Appeal decision, Bottini v. City of San Diego (Sept. 18, 2018), highlights just how difficult it is for a property owner to pursue a regulatory taking due to a delay caused by a city's improper denial of a development application.

Background

Bottini concerns the ...

When state and local governments impose unreasonable conditions or exactions on private property, owners pursuing a regulatory takings claim often face a maze of procedural obstacles just to have their case heard. I once described these procedural obstacles as resembling Alice's trip through Wonderland, with the parties falling in and out of state and then federal court (instead of a rabbit hole) based on procedural and substantive rules that often seem as logical as the Mad Hatter's recitals at the Tea Party. The reason for this maze stems from (i) a U.S. Supreme Court decision ...

Posted in Court Decisions

As we’ve seen all too many times in California, when local municipalities delay development approvals -- even improperly -- courts are reluctant to find liability under an inverse condemnation cause of action and award temporary damages. While there have been some successful cases (see Lockaway Storage v. County of Alameda (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 161), those results are the exception, not the rule.  A recent court of appeal opinion, Mahon v. County of San Mateo 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1483, provides an example of the uphill battle a property owner faces in successfully ...

As any experienced California eminent domain lawyer knows, there is a unique statutory mechanism that allows parties to bring a legal issues motion to secure a court’s ruling on a litany of issues that impact compensation. This statutory right is set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 1260.040 and reads as follows:

"(a)          If there is a dispute between plaintiff and defendant over an evidentiary or other legal issue affecting the determination of compensation, either party may move the court for a ruling on the issue.  The motion shall be made not later than 60 days before ...

Infrastructure projects take years to develop:  the environmental review, funding, design, procurement, and construction of a public project is time consuming in any state, but even more so in California given the strict regulations and oversight any public agency must comply with.  During that lengthy process, private properties situated in the proposed project alignment remain in a state of flux.  When those impacted properties are slated for development, what are the parties to do?

According to an article in the Morgan Hill Times, Council OKs new housing in one of two ...

Two of the more complicated issues eminent domain attorneys face are analyzing whether government conduct rises to the level of a taking, and whether the government engaged in precondemnation conduct that gives rise to damages apart from paying just compensation.

Earlier this week, an unpublished California Court of Appeal decision, Dryden Oaks v. San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, grappled with both issues. (See update below.)

In Dryden Oaks, a developer purchased property near the Palomar Airport in Carlsbad.  The property was in an area governed by the San Diego ...

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 ...

We don’t often see multiple takings-related cases in one week, but last week we saw three.  The California Supreme Court’s decision in Property Reserve was obviously the most important, but the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal in San Diego also issued two decisions in the same week.  Although both of these opinions are unpublished and cannot be cited, they act as a reminder for property owners to be mindful of some basic principles of eminent domain law.

The first case, SANDAG v. Vanta, addresses some of the limits on the principle of just compensation and, in particular ...

Posted in Court Decisions

One of the most valuable assets many homeowners enjoy is their property’s view. If the government undertakes an activity that eliminates or obstructs that view, is an owner entitled to relief?  In Boxer v. City of Beverly Hills (April 26, 2016, B258459), the California Court of Appeal held that in an eminent domain action (where there is a direct taking of property), view impacts are compensable, but in the absence of a taking of property, a property owner is not entitled to compensation for loss of view.

Background

In Boxer v. City of Beverly Hills, a group of property owners filed an ...

On November 4, 2014, San Benito County voters went to the poles to vote on Measure J, the measure designed to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and related gas and oil extraction activities, as well as other "high-intensity petroleum operations," including acid well stimulation and cyclic steam injection. The measure also banned any new gas or oil drilling activity - even conventional, low-intensity activity - in areas the county zoned for residential or rural land use.

With 59% of the vote, supporters approved Measure J in an effort to protect the local environment ...

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 Events

Over the past several months, the United States Supreme Court and the California Courts of Appeal have issued several significant regulatory takings opinions addressing the liability of government agencies for enacting regulations or otherwise conditioning proposed developments.  To really dig into these opinions and their importance, Law Seminars International will be putting on a one-hour telebriefing, Regulatory Takings Claims In California, on August 19 at 1 p.m. (PST).  I will be moderating the discussion with two other outstanding regulatory takings attorneys:  Robert ...

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

Those don't quite sound like the lyrics to the early-90's popular Ace of Base hit, "The Sign."  But they likely describe the situation of many travelers on the I-10 freeway in Los Angeles thanks to a recent California Court of Appeal decision denying a property owner's inverse condemnation action, and upholding Caltrans' required removal of an 8,000 square foot "wallscape" advertising space on the 155 West Washington Boulevard building.  

In West Washington Properties v. California Department of Transportation, a property owner filed an action against Caltrans seeking to (1 ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Inverse condemnation claims can be tricky, particularly in the regulatory context.  You don't want to file your claim too soon, as that will likely result in your claim being booted out of court on ripeness grounds.  But you also don't want to file your claim too late, as that can result in your claim being barred by the applicable statute of limitations.  It is a delicate balance, and one that can often defy logic.  (For a real world example of this Catch 22, see Brad Kuhn's Blog Post.)  Last week, in Rivera v. County of Solano, Case No. A133616, the California Court of Appeal ...

Posted in Court Decisions

On August 30, 2012, the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal held that a privately owned utility could be subject to strict liability for inverse condemnation, thereby concurring with a similar holding previously reached out of the Fourth Appellate District.

A typical inverse condemnation action is initiated when a property owner files a complaint essentially asserting that a government agency is trying to take its property without filing a formal eminent domain action.  Typical inverse condemnation claims involve ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Earlier this year in City of Livermore v. Baca, the California Court of Appeal held that as long as an expert can identify damages arising from a taking or public project, those damages likely will not qualify as speculative, and they can be presented to a jury in an eminent domain action.   Did this broad holding turn upside down traditional rules of admissibility and recovery of damages, or did it just affirm existing law?  And how will courts apply Baca in the future?  Two recently issued unpublished appellate decisions may help guide the way.

The Superior Coatings Decision

Last ...

We've covered in the past regulatory takings claims and the benchmark three-prong Penn Central test for analyzing potential liability.  We've also noted the issues involved in consistently applying those factors, and the resulting unpredictibility in evaluating the merits of potential regulatory takings claims.  

William Wade, Ph.D., a resource economist with the firm Energy and Water Economics, often writes about these issues, offering clearly articulated potential solutions to dealing with these Penn Central issues.  And Mr. Wade has done it again, as his recent ...

Posted in Court Decisions

You may recall that last year in Ridgewater Associates LLC v. Dublin San Ramon Services District, the California Court of Appeal held that a subsequent purchaser cannot recover for inverse condemnation where (1) it knowingly purchases property impacted by a government taking, and (2) the purchase price reflects the property's condition in light of the government impacts.  See Buyer Beware: Improper Sale Documentation Results in Waiver of Inverse Condemnation Claim by Brad Kuhn and Rick Rayl.  While the decision was originally published at 184 Cal.App.4th 629, the ...

Posted in Court Decisions

When dealing with regulatory takings claims, we've covered in the past the maze of procedural landmines that await a property owner.  We've once gone so far as to describe it as resembling "Alice's trip through Wonderland, with the parties falling in and out of state and then federal court (instead of a rabbit hole) based on procedural and substantive rules that often seem as logical as the Mad Hatter's recitals at the Tea Party."  Could one of those major obstacles disappear, allowing land owners a more direct shot at a regulatory takings claim in federal court?  The US Supreme Court could ...

Posted in Court Decisions

California eminent domain law generally provides that a government agency's impairment of a property's access is not compensable unless the impairment qualifies as "substantial".  Dozens of cases have addressed access impairment claims raised by property and business owners both in the traditional eminent domain context and through inverse condemnation actions, and while there are some general guidelines that can be established, many times the determination of whether an impairment qualifies as "substantial" will depend on the particular facts of the case.

Take for ...

We've been following the Guggenheim case for more than a year now, and in the last week or so, there have been a number of developments.  As a quick recap, this decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the City of Goleta's rent control ordinance - which had the effect of transferring the vast majority of a mobile home park's value from the park owner to the tenants - did not constitute a taking.  The decision followed an earlier decision by a different panel of the same court, in which the court held that the ordinance did qualify as a taking. 

Not surprisingly, the owner then sought ...

Posted in Redevelopment

I presented an update on eminent domain/redevelopment issues making their way through the legislature at this week's IRWA Chapter 67 (Orange County) monthly meeting, and I've received a few follow-up requests for more information.  So I decided it was probably worthwhile to put all the information here on the Nossaman blog. 

  • Status of California Redevelopment Agencies:  It's now been several weeks since the  attempted Assembly votes, where Governor Brown's attempt to eliminate redevelopment agencies fell one vote short.  The Governor needs the $2.2 billion in ...

A new bill -- AB 238 -- is working its way through the State Assembly which would require a reduction in compensation payable to a successful plaintiff in an inverse condemnation action in direct proportion to the owner’s percentage of fault in causing damages to the owner’s property.  While the doctrine of comparative fault is one of the cornerstones of tort law, it is rarely applicable to inverse condemnation actions. 

Ever since the seminal decision in Albers v. County of Los Angeles (1965) 62 Cal.2d 250, there has been a more or less bright line distinction between the strict ...

Posted in Court Decisions

The California Court of Appeal has issued a new published decision involving an unusual set of circumstances surrounding an eminent domain and inverse condemnation case.  In Cobb v. City of Stockton, the City filed an eminent domain action to acquire the owner's property; shortly thereafter, the City obtained prejudgment possession and constructed a public roadway on the property.  So far, seems typical.

Here's where things get unusual.  After nine years, the matter had not made its way to trial, and the court dismised the action for "lack of prosecution."  (I'm not entirely sure how ...

Posted in Court Decisions

Earlier this year, we reported on the decision in Ridgewater Associates, Inc. v. Dublin San Ramon Services District.  There, the Court of Appeal rejected an inverse condemnation claim by a purchaser of a property that suffered water intrusion damage caused by an adjacent waste water treatment facility. 

The court held that the seller's failure to assign the inverse condemnation claim to the buyer, coupled with the fact that the buyer was "compensated" for any damages through payment of a reduced purchase price, left the buyer with no standing to sue in inverse condemnation. 

The buyer ...

Posted in Court Decisions

A May 14 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals clarifies the rules regarding when a plaintiff may sue for inverse condemnation in federal court.  In Adams Bros. Farming v. County of Santa Barbara No. 09-55315 (May 14, 2010), the Court rejected an inverse condemnation claim brought against the County, where the County allegedly effected a taking by improperly designating part of the owner's property as wetlands. 

The case involves a long, fairly tortured history that dates back to the late 1990's, when the County (apparently erroneously) designated about 95 acres of "Rancho ...

Posted in Court Decisions

A decision this week by the California Court of Appeal holds that a purchaser of property suffering damages through government conduct may not sue for inverse condemnation where:

  1. The buyer knowingly purchases property impacted by a government taking, and
  2. The purchase price reflects the property’s condition in light of the government impacts.

In Ridgewater Associates, Inc. v. Dublin San Ramon Services District (May 11, 2010) __ Cal.App.4th __, it was largely undisputed that the District's waste water treatment facility caused water intrusion damage on a neighboring warehouse ...

Posted in Right to Take

2009 has come and gone.  With it, we moved one more year past 2005's Kelo decision -- and a lot closer to what those of us who have worked in eminent domain for many years consider "normal."  Massive eminent domain reform efforts seem -- for now -- to be a thing of the past.

The California Legislature passed no substantive changes to California's eminent domain law, and the closest we came to a marquee eminent domain case last year was probably the Marina Towers decision, which was much discussed, but does not represent any sweeping changes to California law.

Still, there were a few notable ...

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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