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Property Rights

Federal lawsuit filed to protect private ranch property Hollister Ranch Owners’ Association v. Xavier Becerra

Ranch owners fight legislation that gives the government unfettered access to private, sensitive coastal land and potentially punishes owners for defending their way of life

Hollister Ranch, California, is widely known for its 150 years as a working cattle ranch and for its biologically significant coastal habitat spread across miles of shoreline downcoast of California’s Point Conception. Over the years, the ranch has carefully restricted development and activity on its 14,400 acres in order to protect the exist ...

United States v. LaPant

Bureaucrats can’t rewrite the law just because they don’t like it

Jack LaPant thought that he had properly navigated all the necessary regulations under the federal Clean Water Act when he plowed his northern California farmland in 2011 to grow wheat. Multiple agencies said he did not need a permit; but in 2016, government bureaucrats sued Jack for not obtaining a permit, even though the Clean Water Act doesnR ...

State of California v. Bernhardt

Motion to intervene filed to defend protections for property owners

In 2019, the Department of Interior changed the way that it applies the Endangered Species Act by rescinding an illegal rule. The changes offered additional protections for property owners—like Ken Klemm, who runs a 4,000-acre ranch in Kansas. The changes also incentivized property owners to assist in the recovery of species by loosening restrict ...

Pavlock v. Indiana

Family sues to stop Indiana’s beachfront land grab

The Pavlock family has owned property along Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline for generations. Last year, a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court redefined state law to move lakefront owners’ property lines from the water’s edge or below to the lake’s ordinary high-water mark, turning large swaths of private beach into public ...

Navigable Waters Cases

Fighting government’s make-believe, illegal definition of navigable waters

The Clean Water Act (CWA) has a seemingly simple purpose: protect the navigable waters of the United States from pollution. The federal agencies charged with carrying out and enforcing the law, however, have expanded the definition of “navigable waters” several times since the Act went on the books in 1972. Represented by PLF free of ch ...

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 ...

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