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Property Rights

Goleta Santa Barbara Wall v. Cal. Coastal Commission

Family challenges government’s arbitrary, unlawful permit conditions

In 2018, the Wall family wanted to build a swimming pool next to their home on their property in Hollister Ranch, California. Like all land owners within the 14,500-acre, century-old working cattle ranch, the Walls needed a permit. Santa Barbara County approved the project; however, the California Coastal Commission denied the permit. The Commissio ...

Erica Perez Perez v. Wayne County

Family fights home equity theft to protect the American Dream

Though Erica Perez and her family spent most of their lives in New Jersey, they had their sights set on Detroit to join their relatives who already lived there. In 2012, Erica and her father Romualdo bought a property containing a four-unit apartment building and a dilapidated single-family home in Detroit for $60,000. They spent three years fixing ...

Zito v. North Carolina Coastal Resource Commission; Town of Nags Head

Fighting government’s blurred lines on property rights

All Michael and Cathy Zito wanted to do was rebuild their vacation cottage in Nags Head, North Carolina after fire destroyed it in 2016. But state and local governments denied building permits because the property is now within a no-build zone. The Zitos are left with the only vacant lot in a line of beach homes and can do little more than pitch a ...

Lent v. California Coastal Commission

Massive—and unconstitutional—beach access fines threaten family home

In 2016, the Lents received the California Coastal Commission’s first ever fine—$4.185 million—for blocking public access to the beach. The home sits 20 feet above the beach and, without stairs or a ramp, the public cannot safely get to the beach. The property originally included an outdoor stairway and a gate to block the large drop—bo ...

Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ranchers fight illegal critical habitat designation

In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated as critical habitat some 14,000 acres of land and 170 miles of streams in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico for the jumping mouse. The designation severely limits ranchers’ access to grazing land and watering spots and, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, adds $20 million in regul ...

Ballinger v. City of Oakland

Unconstitutional tenant relocation scheme hurts families, housing

When the Air Force reassigned Lyndsey and Sharon Ballinger to Washington DC, in 2015, they kept their house in Oakland, California, renting it on a month-to-month lease so they could return to it. When the couple and their two small children came home this spring, a new city law forced them to pay their tech-sector tenants $6,500—for the right to ...

Peter Stavrianoudakis, et al., v. United States Department of Fish & Wildlife and California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Falconry regulations run afoul of the Bill of Rights

Peter Stavrianoudakis is a longtime licensed falconer in California who just wants to do what people have been doing for thousands of years—raise and train falcons. But state and federal regulations have become so restrictive, he and fellow falconers around the country are left to choose between their falcons or their constitutional rights. Pacif ...

Pacetta, LLC v. The Town of Ponce Inlet

Asking the Supreme Court to revive property rights protections

Urged by the town of Ponce Inlet, Florida, Lyder and Simone Johnson bought a number of land parcels and planned a new development through their business, Pacetta, LLC. Town leaders wanted the development so badly, they began revamping the town’s comprehensive land use plan, which would not have allowed the project at the time. But after an el ...

Yim v. City of Seattle

Seattle wages unconstitutional war on landlords

In a noble but misguided effort to combat racial discrimination, the City of Seattle passed a series of ordinances forbidding local landlords from choosing their own tenants. A “first in time” ordinance requires landlords to rent to the first financially-qualified tenant who applies. And the “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance” f ...

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