J. David Breemer

Senior Attorney

David (Dave) Breemer developed a passion for liberty while reading classics such as John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government and Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, as he pursued a Master’s Degree in American Political Theory at University of California, Davis. During this time, Dave began to believe that individual freedom and choice is a God-given and inviolable gift that cannot be taken away through governmental power.

Dave then traveled throughout North America for several years as an adventure tour guide, discussing American ideas of freedom with groups of young people form Europe, Australia, and Japan while rafting, skydiving, and hiking in places like Monument Valley, Las Vegas, and Alaska.

In 1998, Dave went to law school at the University of Hawaii where he studied and co-authored several property rights-oriented law reviews with Professor David L. Callies, a noted land use authority. In 2001, Dave graduated summa cum laude from law school, second in his class, and returned to California to work as an attorney for PLF.

Since joining PLF, Dave has worked as an attorney in PLF’s property rights group. In that capacity, he has litigated numerous federal and state court cases vindicating constitutional rights, particularly those related to the ability to use and enjoy private property. Examples include: Knick v. Township of Scott, U.S. Supreme Court No. 17-647; Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 16-1435; Levin v. City and County of San Francisco, 71 F. Supp. 3d 1072 (N.D. Cal., 2014); Sansotta v. Town of Nags Head, 724 F.3d 533 (4th Cir. 2013); Severance v. Patterson, 390 S.W.3d 705 (Tex. 2012); Severance v. Patterson, 566 F.3d 490 (5th Cir. 2009); Crown Point Dev., Inc. v. City of Sun Valley, 506 F.3d 851 (9th Cir. 2007).

In his time at PLF, Dave has also written many law review articles about the Supreme Court’s property rights jurisprudence. He continues to believe that property rights are vital to securing other rights—such as privacy, self-expression, and financial freedom—and as a result, he continues to be passionate about securing the right to use and enjoy property for all Americans in the courts of this nation.

Sheffield v. George P. Bush, GLO Commissioner

Texas moves the public beach onto private, residential properties

Charles Sheffield is a long-time Texan and surfer who bought beachfront homes in Surfside Beach as a retirement investment. Merry Porter is a native Texan and resident of Surfside Beach who owns and uses a small beachfront home for rental income. In March 2021, without prior notice or compensation, the Texas General Land Office moved the public bea ...

Andrews v. City of Mentor

Government can’t use zoning permits to erase property rights

Charles Andrews hoped to build a new subdivision on 16 undeveloped acres of land in Mentor, Ohio, that’s been in his family for more than 50 years. For the development to be economically feasible, however, he needed a zoning change to a higher residential density zone. The city denied Charles’ request, ending a streak of approvals for s ...

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 ...

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 ...

Adobe Stock 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 ...

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 ...

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August 15, 2019

Government can’t violate your property rights to send a message

The members of the Wall family never imagined their attempt to build a pool and spa at their isolated home in Hollister Ranch, California, would end them up in court. But as many Pacific Legal Foundation clients have discovered, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) has a long history of giving landowners no other option. Hollister ...

July 31, 2019

The Daily Signal: When the Supreme Court Is Right to Overturn Precedent

Supreme Court justices need a healthy respect for past precedents. But sometimes, precedent is so bad it simply has to be overturned. The court did just that last month in the case of Knick v. Township of Scott. The court delivered a victory for champions of property rights by overturning a 1985 precedent that had ...

June 21, 2019

How the Williamson County precedent violated property rights for decades

Today, the Supreme Court restored a critical right for property owners: the right to be heard in court. Rose Knick of Pennsylvania is a PLF client who's been embroiled in a years-long legal dispute with local officials over a local law that forces her to allow public access to her private farm. Rose's case, Knick v. ...

June 22, 2018

PLF wins in New Orleans property demolition case

Today, we received a favorable, published decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Garrett v. City of New Orleans.   This case challenges the City’s demolition of a town home a couple (the Garretts) purchased from the City. The City destroyed the home without any notice, hearing or compensation to the ...

June 18, 2018

PLF files its merits brief in the Knick Supreme Court property case

In late May, PLF attorneys filed this brief on the merits in the case of Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, which is currently before the United States Supreme Court. The Knick case is a property rights dispute arising from a Town's efforts to force Ms. Rose Mary Knick to allow the public to enter and ...

October 31, 2017

Horrifying government overreach: PLF asks Supreme Court to hear challenge to cemetery access law

Rose Mary Knick owns a quiet, 90-acre, stone-fenced farm in rural Pennsylvania. The parcel is bounded on all sides by old stone walls and no trespassing signs at various intervals. According to the local government, it also contains an ancient burial ground of some sort... ...