President's weekly report — May 10, 2013

May 10, 2013 | By ROB RIVETT

Property Rights — Regulatory Taking Victory

The California First District Court of Appeal issued a huge victory for landowners in this opinion in Lockaway Storage v. County of Alameda. Acting on assurances from county planners that a boat and r.v. storage yard could be built, Lockaway purchased property and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for that purpose — only to be told “oops, we missed something.” What the county claimed to have missed were the words in an local anti-growth initiative, Measure D. That was despite the fact that Measure D had an exception for projects — like Lockaway’s — that had already obtained all necessary discretionary permits. Nevertheless, the County would not relent and forbade the development to continue. Lockaway sued. And won. The trial court ordered the County to allow the development to be completed. After some foot-dragging, it did. And then the court awarded $989,641 in temporary damages and $728,015 in attorneys fees. Yesterday, the court of Appeal affirmed. The court was not at all impressed with the county’s arguments — repeatedly calling them “convoluted.” Especially heartening was the court’s recognition that an old California case, Landgate v. California Coastal Commission, does not apply when the takings claim is based on the multi-factored Penn Central test for regulatory takings. Kudos in this case for the fine lawyering done for Lockaway by former PLF attorney Tim Kassouni. PLF’s amicus brief can be read here.

Property Rights — California Coastal Commission — Victory

This week the Coastal Commission voted to remove the most onerous conditions it tried to impose on plans to convert the derelict Marshall’s Tavern into a bed and breakfast. It’s sad that we often have to sue the Commission just to make it obey the law, but fortunately in this case the Commission relented without any protracted litigation. More about Altman v. California Coastal Commission can be found in our blog post here.

Property Rights — California Coastal Commission — Setback

Is the conversion of a mobile home park from tenant occupancy to resident ownership a “development” subject to the California Coastal Commission’s permit oversight? As counter-intuitive as that might sound, a California Court of Appeal said “yes” in this opinion in Laguna Terrace Park v. California Coastal Commission. And we had thought that “development” meant developing things. Our amicus brief is here.

Property Rights — Coastal Land in Texas

We filed this amicus brief in Porretto v. Texas General Land Office, yet another case where the State of Texas is trying to take away homeowner’s beach front homes after a storm.

Property Rights — Washington State

We filed this petition for review in Manna Funding v. Kittitas County. As explained in our blog when a landowner has been damaged by what is found to be an unlawful zoning decision, the landowner is entitled to damages.

Property Rights — Article on Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

PLF Bellevue office managing attorney Brian Hodges has completed this article on the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission case that was decided by the Supreme Court earlier this year. As noted in his blog, the opinion was a good one, although that victory was somewhat muddled by some confusing language from the Court.