Posts tagged Inverse Condemnation & Regulatory Takings.

On November 27, 2019, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali issued a Memorandum Decision on Inverse Condemnation (“Memorandum Decision”) in PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas & Electric’s (together, “PG&E”) Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceeding in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (Case No. 19-30088)...

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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 ...

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 ...

Downzoning property is always a thorny issue:  on the one hand, zoning changes are typical, "police power"-type governmental activities; on the other hand, they can significantly impact property values, and in some cases can result in governmental takings liability.  When a property owner experiences a change in zoning, there are typically two theories that can be pursued:  one is so-called "spot zoning," and the other is a regulatory taking.  

Under the first theory, "spot zoning," a property owner can have a zoning designation invalidated if it can prove the government targeted the ...

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 ...

It appears the raisin handlers' luck in the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision Horne v. US Department of Agriculture has spawned a new federal takings challenge by another group of fruit growers.  This time it's a group of tomato growers asserting a takings challenge against the federal government, with a bit of a twist.  (And yes, I had to check, but both raisins and tomatoes are technically fruits -- see the things you learn?)

According to an article in the Packer, Tomato growers say eminent domain applies to 2008 crop, tomato growers are suing the federal government for $40 million in ...

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. 

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 ...

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 ...

As we previewed in our recent "year in review" piece, the U.S. Supreme Court has some takings issues before it this term.  One case, Koontz v. St. John's River Water Management District, took center stage yesterday. 

At issue in the case is whether the the "nexus" and "proportionality" tests that we have all come to know in the context of real property dedications also apply to other efforts to impose exactions relative to property-development efforts. 

The case presents a new branch on the tree that arises from cases such as 1987's Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, in which ...

Earlier this week, I spent a day in Los Angeles at a seminar involving regulatory takings issues.  It featured a great panel of speakers on a variety of takings, eminent domain, and land use issues.  (In fairness, you should view my characterization of the panel's quality with some skepticism; I was Co-Chair of the seminar and therefore played a large role in assembling the panel.)

There were a number of quality take-aways from the day, but a few stood out for me. 

  1. Mark Alpert of Hart, King & Coldren spoke on a number of regulatory takings issues, focusing in particular on the ...

A new Court of Federal Claims opinion was handed down this month coming right out of our own Southern California backyard.  The case, Stueve Bros. Farms, LLC v. the United States, deals with whether a "physical taking of title" has occurred when a government agency's activities create a risk of flooding.  The answer, according to the Court, is no.

Stueve Bros. Farms owns property in San Bernardino County within the Prado Dam Flood Control Basin.  In the 1940's, the federal government condemned flowage easements over the property to an elevation of 556 feet above sea ...

The California Court of Appeal recently issued an unpublished decision, Ridge Properties v. County of Riverside Flood Control and Water Conservation District, which addresses whether a government agency's failure to pay an agreed amount of compensation gives rise to a claim for inverse condemnation.  The answer is "no."

In Ridge Properties, a property owner planned to develop an industrial park in Riverside County.  The conditions of approval for the project required the owner to dedicate some of its property and construct a drainage or flood control facility to protect ...

Last April, we reported on a bizarre case arising out of the City of San Clemente's attempt to down zone a piece of property.  The trial court had concluded that the down zoning constituted a taking and ordered the City to rescind a decision supported by that down zoning.  The City had denied an application to develop the property because the application did not conform to the current general plan and zoning ordinance (the City seems to have sidestepped the fact that the development applications included applications to amend the general plan and zoning). 

In addition to a writ of mandate ...

"Downzoning" describes a government agency's rezoning a parcel of land once previously zoned for a more intense use to a more restrictive use (e.g., changing the commercial  zoning designation of an undeveloped parcel of land to agricultural or open space).  Those who purchase an undeveloped property zoned for commercial, industrial, or residential uses, only to later have that property rezoned for agricultural or open space uses unquestionably suffer a loss.  But when is it compensable?

There's an interesting news article on the Daily Zilla about an alleged downzoning case ...

The use of eminent domain in a declining real estate market presents a number of unique issues.  I often receive calls from property owners who are frustrated with the government's timing of condemnation proceedings, and want to know how they can get market-peak-values for their property. 

This issue was the hot topic of a previous IRWA seminar I chaired, Property Acquisition, Appraisal, and Relocation in an Upside Down Market.  And a recent blog post by the Weiss Serota Helfman law firm, Eminent Domain Valuation in a Falling Market Poses Questions for ...

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 ...

It is common practice for government agencies to condition approval of large developments on providing off-site public improvements.  Road widenings, park dedications, etc., are all too familiar for California developers.  When those improvements require others' property, many times the government agency utilizes eminent domain on the developer's behalf (with the developer footing the bill).  But what if the agency refuses?

According to an Inside Self-Storage article, "Derrel’s Mini Storage Owner Battles City, Homeowner in CA Self-Storage Eminent Domain Case," a ...

Anyone who's ever been involved in real estate development knows that as part of the permit approval process, developers are routinely required to make concessions to the government in order to move forward with proposed development plans.  And, if you're building near the coast, you usually need to jump through even more hoops (sometimes backwards and through fire) to please the Coastal Commission.  But when do the demanded concessions go too far?

We've covered in the past the "rough proportionality" and "nexus" requirements that development conditions must ...

Access impairment disputes must be the hot topic.  I just wrote about the Wardany access impairment case, and now another similar dispute is brewing in the City of Temecula.  This one may be a bit more interesting.

According to a North County Times article by Aaron Claverie, TEMECULA: City looks ready to fight eminent domain suit, Old Town property owners Charles and Sylvia Hargis have filed an inverse condemnation action against the City of Temecula due to the City's purportedly closing off access to the Hargis' coffee shop during construction of the City's $70 million ...

When analyzing potential liability for a regulatory takings claim, most land use and eminent domain attorneys immediately look to the three-prong test set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City (1978) 438 U.S. 104.  Those three factors include:

  • the economic impact of the regulation;
  • the extent to which the regulation has interfered with distinct investment-backed expectations; and
  • the character of the government's regulation.

Unfortunately, it's much easier said than done.  Practitioners and courts alike have struggled ...

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 ...

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 ...

We've reported on a number of rent control regulatory takings claims making their way through the court system, most notably the Guggenheim v. City of Goleta case.  Apparently, some cities and counties are fed up with the onslaught of challenges to their rent control ordinances, and they're looking for a way to recoup the attorneys' fees they expend in preserving the ordinances. 

According to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Monning researching bill to address rent control lawsuits," Assemblyman Bill Monning looks to address this concern by considering a bill ...

In case you missed it, in the news last month was a big story about the San Diego County Sheriff's Department torching a residence in Escondido as the only safe way to destroy a giant cache of explosives found in the house.  The house was burned to ashes in an effort to destroy the extremely volatile chemical compounds which could detonate at any second.  The house has since been dubbed, simply, the "Bomb House."

So what does this have to do with eminent domain?  Interestingly, the individual responsible for the explosives was a renter (who is now in jail), and the property owner -- who had no idea ...

We've reported in the past about some of the regulatory takings issues created as a result of the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority's ("RCA") efforts to conserve property pursuant to the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan ("MSHCP").  It now appears that those conservation efforts have created quite the turmoil with citizens in the City of Murrieta.

According to a recent North County Times article, "MURRIETA: Landowners frustrated with conservation board, city leaders who refuse to meet," about 100 members have organized a group called the ...

An interesting battle is raging in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Mattei's Tavern, a "landmark" in Los Olivos for more than 100 years, is slated for a redevelopment plan by its owner.  A local activist group, known as the Valley Alliance, wants to stop the owner's plans.  And one arrow in their quiver has been to nominate the tavern for listing as a historical landmark. 

According to an April 29 article by Kathy Cleary in the Santa Ynez Valley Journal Valley Alliance Historic Landmark Nomination:  Eminent Domain Takeover?, the purpose of the nomination is to give the Historic Landmark Advisory ...

Earlier this month, I reported on a Florida case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental ProtectionEarlier this week, I reported on some other property-rights issues currently in the news

Yesterday, one of my partners, Howard Coleman, took things a step further, attempting to tie recent property-rights issues into a big picture view of what it all may mean for California property owners.   

His piece, Sea Level Rise and Coastal Boundary Lines – Consequences of Climate Change, examines the Florida case ...

A year or so ago, I attended a three-day symposium on regulatory takings that was held at Stanford University. At the end of the symposium, the final panel of speakers was asked to predict what the United States Supreme Court might be doing in the area of takings over the next couple of years. The answer of at least one panelist was essentially nothing. In his view (at least as I understood it), the Supreme Court had been grappling with various takings issues for years without coming up with particularly workable formulas and was done trying.

Well, based on an article in the Los Angeles Times ...

The Cato Institute's blog has an interesting post concerning the government's ability to induce local government agencies to enact tougher zoning standards that decrease the value of property which the government may want to acquire in the future. 

The post, titled "A Special Kind of Eminent Domain Abuse," deals specifically with the federal government's actions with respect to property it has contemplated acquiring for 30 years in order to expand the Everglades National Park.  The post  by Ilya Shapiro reports that in the case of 480.00 acres of Land v. United ...

In 2003, the County of Riverside and the cities within western Riverside County formed the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (commonly known as the "RCA").  They delegated to the RCA the task of acquiring approximately 153,000 acres of privately owned property deemed necessary for habitat conservation under the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (the "MSHCP").

Many property owners whose land falls within the MSHCP conservation area find themselves with few options:  generally, they can either ...

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 ...

Typically, regulatory takings litigation generates a lot of noise and gnashing of teeth but, at the end of the day, rarely are government agencies bitten with an order that they pay compensation. However, a new opinion from the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Guggenheim v. City of Goleta (Sept. 28, 2009, Case No. 06-56306), demonstrates that regulatory takings litigation can have teeth. In Guggenheim, the 9th Circuit holds that the city of Goleta's rent control ordinance on mobile home parks went too far and that the city will have to pay the park's owners just compensation ...

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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