Did the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Cede its Authority?

By Brian Russell

Nick v. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (2014) 233 Cal.App.4th 194.

This is a case of one convenience store owner attempting to prevent another convenience store, 7-Eleven, from selling beer and wine by using the powers of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). The petitioners, Adam and Sherry Nick (Nick) claimed in its complaint that under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (Bus. and Prof Code, Section 23000 et seq. or the “Act”) it prohibits the ABC from issuing a license that would result in or add to an undue concentration of licenses unless the local governing body of the area where the applicant’s premises is located determines that issuing the license would serve a “public convenience or necessity.”

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Nonjudicial Sale Is Not Void Merely Because The Trustee Had Not Yet Been Substituted As The Trustee At The Time It Recorded The Notice Of Default

By Glen Hansen

Ram v. OneWest Bank, FSB (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 1.

In Ram v. OneWest Bank, FSB (2015) 234 Cal.App.4th 1, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District held that a nonjudicial sale of a residence was not void due to irregularities in the foreclosure proceedings, where the party executing and recording the notice of default as the “trustee” had not yet been substituted as the trustee by the lender’s assignee.

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The Doctrine of Irrevocable Licenses is Alive and Flourishing - So Maybe You Can Maintain Your Plants on Your Neighbor's Property

By Glen C. Hansen

Richardson v. Franc (January 27, 2015, A137815) ___ Cal.App.4th ___.

In Richardson v. Franc, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District affirmed a trial court’s granting of an irrevocable license in perpetuity to maintain and improve landscaping, irrigation, and lighting within the area of an express easement for access and public utility purposes where, over a 20-year period, the current easement holders and their predecessors-in-interest installed and maintained those improvements at significant cost without any objection from the servient landowners or their predecessors‑in‑interest.

In 1989, Karen and Tom Poksay began building their home on the undeveloped property at 2513 Laguna Vista Drive in Novato, California. The project included constructing and landscaping a 150-foot long driveway within the 30-foot wide easement running down to the site of their new home, which was hidden from the street. The driveway was constructed pursuant to an easement over 2515 Laguna Vista Drive, which was then owned by Dan and Jeanne Schaefer. The easement was for access and utility purposes only. The landscaping was designed to be “natural and beautiful on both sides to be a nice entrance to the home.” Plants and trees were planted along both sides of the driveway in the easement area, along with a complex drip irrigation system. Water fixtures were also installed along the driveway for fire safety, along with electrical lighting along the driveway (later replaced by solar lighting). Through their own and hired labor, the Poksays maintained the landscaping, irrigation and electrical systems, and incurred costs in doing so.

James Scott Richardson and Lisa Donetti (“Respondents”) purchased the Poksay property in late 2000. Over the years, Respondents added new vegetation in the easement area, hired landscapers to maintain it, and incurred costs to irrigate it.

Appellants purchased 2515 Laguna Vista Drive in 2004, knowing that Respondents were improving the landscaping in the easement area, including employing landscapers. For six years, Appellants and Respondents lived in relative harmony, with no indication by Appellants that they wished Respondents to stop maintaining and improving the easement landscaping. In 2010 Appellants raised the first-ever objections about the landscaping and other improvements. In September 2010, one of the Appellants cut the irrigation and electrical lines on both sides of the driveway and disassembled the water valve pumps. Appellants also sent a letter through counsel demanding that Respondents remove all the landscaping and supporting systems from the easement area within five days. In response, Respondents filed an action that alleged claims for an irrevocable parol license, an equitable easement, and declaratory and injunctive relief. The trial court denied relief on the equitable easement cause of action, and granted an irrevocable license for Respondents “and their successors-in-interest to maintain and improve landscaping, irrigation, and lighting within the 30’ wide and 150’ long easement.” Appellants appealed. Under an abuse of discretion standard, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s equitable judgment.

The court of appeal initially held that Respondents’ claim for an equitable easement to maintain the improvements in the easement area was properly rejected. The doctrine of equitable easements is frequently invoked in order to maintain structures on neighboring property in circumstances where prescriptive easements and adverse possession claims would not apply. A claim for an equitable easement includes the requirement that the easement was created without knowledge or means of knowledge of the facts. Here, the trial court found that Respondents

knew or should have known at the time of their purchase that the Grant Deed, on its face, describes the easement for ‘access and utility purposes.’ The plants and irrigation system that [Respondents] seek to maintain for the landscaping do not fall under the easement description. Nor is this a case where [Respondents] believed that these items were on their property and did not realize they were, in fact, on [Appellants’] property.

Thus, an equitable easement could not be granted under the circumstances in this case.

However, the court of appeal held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting Respondents’ request for an irrevocable license. “[A] license may become irrevocable when a landowner knowingly permits another to repeatedly perform acts on his or her land, and the licensee, in reasonable reliance on the continuation of the license, has expended time and a substantial amount of money on improvements with the licensor’s knowledge.”

In this case, the trial court concluded that the following evidence at trial was sufficient under law and equity to support a finding of an irrevocable license: The Respondents’ “substantial expenditures in the easement area for landscaping, maintenance, care, and physical labor”; the Poksays’ expenditure of “substantial sums in the easement area for landscaping, maintenance, care, and physical labor”; and “no objection … to any of this” by either Appellants or Mr. Schaefer over the course of more than 20 years. The court of appeal not only affirmed that ruling, but also rejected Appellants’ five other arguments against that ruling.

First, the court held that permission sufficient to establish a license can be implied from the acts of the parties.

Second, the court held that the Respondents’ failure to submit a specific dollar amount as to the cost of these improvements is irrelevant, because there was sufficient evidence to infer that the costs incurred in both money and time in maintaining the landscaping and other improvements were substantial.

Third, the appellate court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding it would be inequitable to require respondents to remove these improvements when the property is transferred, given the substantial investment in time and money and the permanent nature of these improvements.

Fourth, the court recognized that providing a level of certainty to the parties by defining the scope of the irrevocable license with the precise arithmetic measurements of the easement area will prevent the parties from returning to court for further clarification as to the scope of the irrevocable license.

Fifth, Respondents’ knowledge that the landscaping and other improvements were not covered by the express terms of the easement was irrelevant to the granting of an irrevocable license.

Comment: The Richardson case reminds parties who have constructed and/or maintained structures on a neighbor’s property for a long time that they may have another legal theory by which to avoid the removal of those structures, along with the potential doctrines of equitable easements, prescriptive easements and adverse possession.

Glen C. Hansen is senior counsel at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP. For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

 

 

 

 

First Amendment Activities Are Not Permitted On The Sidewalk Or Apron Areas Directly Adjacent To Individual Stores In Shopping Center - Those Are Not "Public Forums"

By Glen C. Hansen

In Donahue Schriber Realty Group, Inc. v. Nu Creation Outreach (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 1171, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District affirmed a trial court’s order granting a preliminary injunction that enjoined defendants from soliciting charitable donations or engaging in other expressive activities on sidewalks adjacent to store entrances in plaintiff's shopping center, because such store entrances and aprons are not a public forum. 

Plaintiff Donahue Schriber Realty Group, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) controls the Fig Garden Village shopping center, an outdoor shopping center with approximately 60 retailers in Fresno, California. Plaintiff has a policy of prohibiting solicitation of donations on the shopping center property. However, Plaintiff allows other forms of expressive activity, such as gathering petition signatures, in a designated public forum area only.

On July 28, 2013, two solicitors for Defendant Nu Creation Outreach went on the shopping center property and solicited donations on sidewalk areas adjacent to the entrances of stores within the shopping center. The next day, six to eight solicitors for Nu Creation Outreach solicited donations adjacent to multiple retailers in the shopping center.  The solicitors refused to leave when asked to do so, and the police would not arrest the solicitors without a court order. Plaintiff then filed a complaint against Nu Creation Outreach and one of its members (collectively, “Defendants”) for declaratory relief and trespass. At Plaintiff’s request, the trial court eventually issued a preliminary injunction that did not prohibit all solicitation at the shopping center, but restricted it to a designated public forum area. Defendants appealed. The Court of Appeal affirmed.

The appellate court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Plaintiff demonstrated a likelihood of prevailing on the merits. Plaintiff submitted evidence sufficient to satisfy its trespass cause of action because the solicitors’ activities on the shopping center property exceeded the scope of consent given for entry, because Plaintiff believed the solicitors' activities were interfering with the flow of traffic around the entrances to stores in the shopping center, discouraging customers from returning to shop in the shopping center, and eroding the goodwill of both customers and tenants, and because the police declined to remove the solicitors.

Also, and most importantly in the case, the Court of Appeal rejected the Defendants’ argument that the portion of the shopping center where the solicitors were soliciting donations was a public forum. A public forum is where speech could be limited only by reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, that are content neutral, narrowly tailored, and leave ample alternative means of communication of the information.  As a general rule, landowners and tenants have a right to exclude persons from trespassing on private property; however, the right to exclude persons exercising First Amendment rights is not absolute. Here, the court relied on Ralphs Grocery Co v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 8 (2012) 55 Cal.4th 1083, 1092, 1104, which held that “within a shopping center or mall, the areas outside individual stores’ customer entrances and exits, at least as typically configured and furnished, are not public forums,” and “[o]n the private property of a shopping center, the public forum portion is limited to those areas that have been designed and furnished to permit and encourage the public to congregate and socialize at leisure.”

The Court of Appeal found that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s conclusion that the sidewalk areas where Defendants pursued their solicitation of donations are not public forums. Plaintiff submitted a declaration stating that the sidewalk and apron areas in the shopping center are not designed or furnished in a way that induces shoppers to congregate for purposes of entertainment, relaxation, or conversation; they are designed only to facilitate customers’ entrance to and exit from the stores.  Also, the shopping center had a policy of permitting expressive activities only in certain areas; no solicitation of donations or gathering of signatures on petitions was permitted on the sidewalk or apron areas directly adjacent to the individual stores.

The Court of Appeal further held that, in this kind of free speech rights versus private property rights cases, a showing that Plaintiff is likely to prevail on the merits “establishes that it will be irreparably harmed if the injunction is not granted.” The evidence presented to the trial court further demonstrated that the disruptive solicitation activity of Defendants’ solicitors harms the shopping center’s relationship with its tenants and customers and erodes customer goodwill.

Glen C. Hansen is senior counsel at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

 

California Courts of Appeal Issue Several Decisions Clarifying Disclosure Duties Of Real Estate Sellers And Their Brokers/Agents

By Glen C. Hansen

A trio of cases were reported by the California Court of Appeal in the first half of 2014 that clarified the disclosure and fiduciary duties of real estate brokers and their agents.

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So Your Neighbor Wants To Build An Ornate Wall Between Your Adjoining Properties - In The Absence Of An Agreement, Who Pays?

By Glen Hansen

Your neighbor builds (or wants to build) an ornate wall between your two properties. Then your neighbor emails to you the invoice, and asks you to contribute one-half the cost of the edifice. Do you have to pay if the cost of the wall is excessive in your opinion? What if you can barely afford half the cost of a chain link fence, let alone THAT wall? Prior to January 1, 2014, the law was not too helpful in answering those questions.

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Court Strongly Reaffirms That No Prescriptive Easement Exists Where The Facts Demonstrate That The Use Of The Property Was By Permission

By Glen C. Hansen

In Windsor Pacific LLC v. Samwood Co. (January 30,2013, B233514) ___ Cal.App.4th ____, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held (1) that a prescriptive easement could not be established over two roads, where the facts in the case demonstrate that the party alleging the prescriptive use was equitably estopped from denying that its use of the roads was by permission; and (2) that a proceeding to interpret a written easement agreement in order to determine whether a party to the agreement is equitably estopped from claiming that its use of the subject property was permissive is an action to ‘enforce or interpret’ the agreement, for which an attorneys’ fees provision in the agreement applies, regardless of whether that interpretation was sought by the allegations of the complaint or by affirmative defenses in the answer.

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When Neighbors Fight Over Whether A Fence Is On The Property Line, The Doctrine Of Boundary By Agreement Requires ... An Actual Agreement.

By Glen Hansen

In Martin v. Van Bergen (September 6, 2012, B232570) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that a property owner who unknowingly had raised almond trees up to a common fence located on a neighboring parcel could not raise the doctrine of boundary by agreement as a defense to the neighbor’s quiet title action, because there was no evidence of an actual agreement to locate the fence as the boundary between the parcels.

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Arbitration Provision In A CC&Rs Applies To Condominium Association Construction Defects Claims Against Developer.

By Glen Hansen

In Pinnacle Museum Tower Assn. v. Pinnacle Market Development (US), LLC (2012) 55 Cal.4th 223, the California Supreme Court held that a defendant developer who recorded a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (“CC&Rs”) could enforce an arbitration provision in those CC&Rs in a construction defect action filed against the developer by a condominium association governed by those CC&Rs, even though the association did not exist as a separate entity when the CC&Rs was drafted and recorded. The Court resolved a split of opinion in the appellate courts

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Trial Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion In Granting Verified Petition To Remove Supermajority Voting Restriction In CC&Rs.

By Glen C. Hansen

In Quail Lakes Owners Assn. v. Kozina (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 1132, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District affirmed a trial court’s decision to grant a verified petition by a homeowners’ association for an order under Civil Code section 1356 to modify the association’s governing laws to reduce a supermajority voting restriction.

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Homeowners' Association Has Standing To Sue Realtors Involved In Sale Of Properties To Association Members Where Alleged Injury Is To Common Area.

By Glen C. Hansen

In Glen Oaks Estates Homeowners Assn. v. Re/Max Premier Properties, Inc. (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 913, the trial court sustained demurrers to a homeowners association’s (“HOA”) complaint against real estate brokers who acted as dual agents in the developers’ sale of properties in the development to HOA members. The HOA alleged in the complaint that the realtors had obtained inaccurate soil reports and had misled the members, resulting in defects of a common roadway and common area slopes. The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s determination that the association did not have standing to assert claims on behalf of its members against the brokers under Civil Code section 1368.3.

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What Is The Meaning Of The Word "Or": A Real Estate Broker Commission Is Not Owed Even Though An All-Cash Offer Meets The Full Price In The Listing Agreement

By Glen C. Hansen

In RealPro, Inc. v. Smith Residual Company, LLC(2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 1215, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District upheld a trial court judgment sustaining a seller’s and their agent’s demurrer to a cooperating broker’s complaint to recover a real estate commission, where the cooperating broker presented a written offer of a buyer that was “ready, willing, and able to purchase the Property … on all material terms” contained in the listing, including an all cash purchase at the full listing price of $17 million, but where the seller did not accept the offer and a sale was never completed.

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Supreme Court To Decide If A Developer Can Compel Arbitration Of A Condominium Homeowners Association's Construction Defect Claim Under The CC&R's

By Glen C. Hansen

The California Supreme Court is currently reviewing the issue of whether, in response to a construction defect action brought by a condominium homeowners association, the developer can compel binding arbitration of the litigation pursuant to an arbitration provision in the CC&R’s. A split of opinion exists in the court of appeals on that issue. That issue is raised in several cases pending before the court.

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Homeowners' Association Complies With Solar Rights Act When It Reasonably Denies The Installation Of Solar Panels At Residence In the Development

By Glen C. Hansen

In Tesoro del Valle Master Homeowners Assn. v. Griffin (October 3, 2011, B222531) ___ Cal.App.___, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed a judgment following a jury verdict that found that a homeowners’ association (“HOA”) complied with the California Solar Rights Act (Civ. Code, § 714) when it denied the application of property owners to install solar panels on a slope adjacent to their residence; where the conditions, covenants and restrictions (“CC&Rs”) and Design Guidelines for the HOA expressly incorporated the requirements of section 714; where the homeowners failed to satisfy their burden to submit an application to the HOA that was complete and that addressed the HOA’s concerns about location, safety and aesthetics; and where expert testimony at trial demonstrated that an alternative solar energy system of comparable costs and efficiency could be installed that did not significantly increase the cost or decrease the efficiency of the system sought by Defendants.

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Vested Rights Class at UC Davis Extension August 18, 2011

Please join William W. Abbott and Steven Rudolph on August 18, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM for an in depth look at the art of crafting development agreements in their UC Davis Extension course, Vested Rights, Vesting Maps and Development Agreements.

Development agreements are an effective avenue for a community and a developer to work together to process projects. Both sides need to carefully consider the terms of these contracts and look at questions of content and performance before completing such agreements. Review the legislative and judicial aspects of development agreements. Examine the legal basis for development agreements and the overlap between agreements and vesting subdivision maps.

Gain an understanding of the negotiating process, identify and discuss the range of options available when negotiating a development agreement, and review the "theoretically" possible agreement. Review the key points to an agreement and learn ways to assist in understanding the needs of the "other side." Learn how to strategically pick the players to conduct the negotiation. An in-depth discussion will look at techniques and concepts that are likely to work, those that do not, and why most attempts at development agreements are doomed to failure.

Topics include:

  • Common Law Vested Rights
  • Legal Review
  • Development Agreements vs. Vested Maps
  • The Development Agreement Statute
  • Key Terms and Alternative Approaches
  • Considerations in Negotiating the Agreement
  • Contents of an Agreement
  • Testing the Waters
  • Paper Control—Who Drafts the Document?
  • Enforceability
  • How to Implement Agreements
  • What Happens After the Life of an Agreement?

Register at:

http://extension.ucdavis.edu/unit/land_use_and_natural_resources/course/description/?type=A&unit=LUNR&SectionID=157252&course_title=Vested%20Rights,%20Vesting%20Maps%20and%20Development%20Agreements&prgList=LUP&AreaName=Land+Use

 

"Payment of Taxes May Be Required For A Prescriptive Easement, But Only If Defendant Can Prove The Easement Has Been Separately Assessed"

By Glen C. Hansen

In Main Street Plaza v. Cartwright & Main, LLC (2011) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, 2011 Cal.App. LEXIS 499, the Fourth Appellate District held that a defendant property owner was not entitled to a summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ claim of a prescriptive easement over an alleyway on defendant’s property, where the plaintiffs did not pay taxes on a separately assessed railway easement that ran along the same land as the alleyway, and where the railway easement and the prescriptive easement were not coextensive in use.

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Bad Deeds Make Bad Law

By Cori Badgley and Emilio Camacho

In Monterey/Santa Cruz County Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council v. Cypress Marina Heights LP (2011) 191 Cal.App.4th 1500, the California Court of Appeal, Sixth District, held that deeds acquiring property from a redevelopment agency required the purchaser/developer to pay prevailing wages to the construction workers. In addition, the appellate court also held that plaintiffs were entitled to $73,167.50 in attorney’s fees pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5.

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Borrowers May Sue to Postpone a Foreclosure if the Lender Does Not First Discuss Options with the Borrower to Prevent Foreclosure

By Glen C. Hansen

In 2008, the California Legislature enacted Civil Code section 2923.5. That statute requires, before a notice of default may be filed, that a lender contact the borrower in person or by telephone to “assess” the borrower’s financial situation and to “explore” options for the borrower to prevent foreclosure.  In Mabry v. Superior Court (June 2, 2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 208, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District addressed a case where plaintiff borrowers brought an action that requested a restraining order to prevent a foreclosure sale based on the lender’s alleged failure to comply with section 2923.5. The trial court denied plaintiffs’ request on the grounds of no private right of enforcement and federal preemption. The Court of Appeal reversed, and disagreeing with the trial court on both grounds.

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To be Exempt from Landmark Designation, a Property Must be Related to the Owner's Religious Mission Before Application for the Exemption

By Glen Hansen

In Hashalom v. City of Santa Monica (No. B212733, November 22, 2010) 2010 Cal.App. LEXIS 1990, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that an apartment complex did not fall within a statutory exemption from historic preservation provided by Government Code section 37361, subdivision (c), because the property had always been a commercial enterprise, both when the current owner purchased it and when the same owner later sought the exemption.

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Mortgagors May Not Privately Enforce The Requirement Imposed On Lenders To Have A Comprehensive Loan Modification Program

By Glen C. Hansen

In Vuki v. Superior Court (October 29, 2010) 189 Cal.App.4th 791, Lucy and Manatu Vuki filed an action against their mortgagee, HSBC Bank USA, initially seeking a temporary restraining order that would stay HSBC’s eviction of the Vukis after the Vukis lost their home to foreclosure. The Vukis alleged, among other things, that HSBC violated the requirements for a “comprehensive loan modification program” that are provided in Civil Code sections 2923.52 and 2923.53 (enacted in 2009). The trial court denied the application for a temporary restraining order and the Vukis filed a writ proceeding with the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District. The Court denied that writ petition on the grounds that neither section 2923.52 nor section 2923.53 provides any private right of action.

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REMINDER! Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2011.

In January and February 2011 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2011 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting, AB 32 
  • Water Supply Assessments
  • CEQA Litigation: Exemptions, Setting the Baseline, Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extensions
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Agricultural Land Mitigation
  • New General Permit Under Clean Water Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations, Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 11, 2011
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available. 

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2011.

In January and February 2011 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2011 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting, AB 32 
  • Water Supply Assessments
  • CEQA Litigation: Exemptions, Setting the Baseline, Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extensions
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Agricultural Land Mitigation
  • New General Permit Under Clean Water Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations, Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 11, 2011
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available. 

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

A Lenders' Loan Approval Is Not An Implied Promise That The Borrower Can Afford The Loan

By Glen C. Hansen

In Perlas v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC (August 11, 2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 429, the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District held that home loan borrowers could not state a cause of action for fraudulent misrepresentation or concealment against a lender, because a borrower is not entitled to rely upon a lender’s knowingly false determination that the borrower is qualified for a loan in order to decide if the borrower could afford the loan.

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Seller's Broker Has Duty to Inform Buyer That Property is so Over-Encumbered That Escrow Will Likely Not Close

By Glen C. Hansen

In Holmes v. Summer (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1510, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District held that when a real estate agent or broker for a seller is aware that the amount of existing monetary liens and encumbrances exceeds the sales price of a residential property, so as to require either the cooperation of the lender in a short sale or the ability of the seller to put a substantial amount of cash into the escrow in order to obtain the release of the monetary liens and encumbrances affecting title, the agent or broker has a duty to disclose this state of affairs to the buyer, so that the buyer can inquire further and evaluate whether to risk entering into a transaction with a substantial risk of failure.

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Exclusive Prescriptive Easements "No"; Equitable Easements: "Maybe"

By Glen C. Hansen

Civil litigation involving boundary disputes often includes legal questions about whether one neighbor has the right to use the property of another neighbor for driveway, parking, landscaping or other purposes. While California courts may grant a prescriptive easement to a neighbor to use his or her neighbor’s property for a limited use, a prescriptive easement will not be granted for “exclusive” use of neighboring property. This article outlines the factors that courts consider when determining whether an intended use of neighboring property is “exclusive,” and therefore prohibited as a prescriptive easement.

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Arbitration Clause in Condominium Project CC&Rs Unenforceable in Construction Defects Action by Homeowners' Association against Developer

By Glen Hansen

In Pinnacle Museum TowerAssn. v. Pinnacle Market Development (UC), LLC (D055422, July 30, 2010), 2010 Cal.App. LEXIS 1261, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District held that an arbitration provision in a declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R's) recorded by a condominium project developer did not constitute an “agreement” sufficient to waive the constitutional right to jury trial for construction defect claims brought by the homeowners association against the developer.

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Reminder! Save the Date

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2010!

In January and February 2010 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2010 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting
  • Water Supply Legislation
  • CEQA Litigation: Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extension
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Endangered Species Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations: Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 12, 2010
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available.

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

 

Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2010!

In January and February 2010 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2010 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting
  • Water Supply Legislation
  • CEQA Litigation: Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extension
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Endangered Species Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations: Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 12, 2010
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available.

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

If the Responsible Managing Officer Abandons the Licensed Contractor, the Contractor will be Working for Free

By Glen C. Hansen

In White v. Cridlebaugh (October 20, 2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 506, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District held that homeowners were entitled to recover all compensation paid to a contractor because the responsible managing officer had earlier abandoned the contractor without a replacement, thereby causing the license to be suspended by operation of law. Making matters worse, the unlicensed contractor cannot reduce the homeowners’ recovery by asserting claims of offset arising out of the value of the reasonable materials and services provided by the contractor to the homeowners.

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Leaving the Country? You're Still on Notice of the Adverse Possessors on Your Property

By Glen Hansen

In Nielsen v. Gibson (October 13, 2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 318, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District held that a couple who bought property from the record owner’s parents while the owner was permanently out of the country was entitled to a judgment for quiet title because the couple improved, maintained, fenced and irrigated the property, and paid the property taxes for almost 10 years.

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Case Law in 2009 Underscores the Strict Requirements of California's Home Equity Sales Contract Act

By Glen Hansen

The ongoing mortgage crisis in California’s residential real estate market reinforces the current importance of California’s Home Equity Sales Contract Act law (“HESCA”), which is codified in Civil Code section 1695 et seq. Several cases in 2009 applying HESCA demonstrate how courts will enforce the strict requirements of that statute.

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Homeowners have the Burden of Proving Builder Failed to Comply with "Fix-it Law" Before Filing Construction Defects Action

By Glen C. Hansen

Civil Code section 895 et seq. (i.e., the “Fix-it Law”) establishes procedures and requirements with respect to construction defect cases involving homes and homeowners.  Section 910 sets out “prelitigation procedures” to be followed by plaintiffs before a suit can be filed, procedures that can be summarized as “notice and opportunity to repair.”  Section 912 in turn sets out certain requirements for builders with respect to documentation and information to be provided to homeowners.  As a sanction, or incentive to comply, section 912 also provides, in subdivision (i), that “any builder who fails to comply with any of these requirements within the specified time is not entitled to the protection of this chapter, and the homeowner is released from the requirements of this chapter and may proceed with the filing of an action, in which case the remaining chapters of this part shall continue to apply to the action.”  In Standard Pacific Corp. v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County (August 14, 2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 828, the Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, addressed the issues of whether a plaintiff homeowner who does not follow the procedures set out in section 910 must first establish the builder's noncompliance with section 912, or whether the plaintiff is free to file suit and need not step back to perform the “notice and opportunity to repair” position until the builder affirmatively establishes that it has complied with its own obligations. The Court of Appeal held that the burden was upon the plaintiff homeowner to either comply with section 910 or to establish that the plaintiff did not have to follow those procedures.

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Sacramento County Bar Association Real Property Law Section

William W. Abbott, partner of Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be speaking on the following topic on Monday September 14, 2009 at 11:45 a.m.

“Preservation of Local Government Approvals”

Location:

  • The Firehouse Restaurant – Golden Eagle Room
  • 112 Second Street
  • Old Sacramento, California
  • Telephone: (916) 442-4772

Date/Time:    

  • Monday, September 14, 2009 at 11:45 a.m.

Another Developer Win on Affordable Housing Regs: A Local Agency can be Preempted from Implementing Affordable Housing Requirements as a Condition of a Project Approval

By Katherine J. Hart

The City of Los Angeles (“City”) adopted a Specific Plan containing a provision which imposes affordable housing requirements on residential and mixed use projects of more than 10 dwelling units (“DUs”) per lot.  At issue in this case was whether the Costa-Hawkins Act preempts the City’s affordable housing requirements. The superior court held that the Costa-Hawkins Act does preempt the affordable housing requirements in the City’s Plan.

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California Appeals Court Says No Judicial Review of COG RHNA Allocations

By Katherine Hart

In the recent case of City of Irvine v. Southern California Association of Governments, the City of Irvine (“City”) sued the Southern California Association of Governments (“SCAG”) for allocating almost 43 percent of Orange County’s regional housing needs to the City. SCAG is charged with developing a regional housing need assessment (“RHNA”) for cities within its jurisdiction. SCAG delegated to the Orange County Council of Governments the responsibility for providing the data to be used by SCAG in applying the methodology used to determine the allocation of housing units to jurisdictions within Orange County.

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Land Held by Park District Not Automatically Dedicated

By Leslie Z Walker

In Ste. Marie v. Riverside County Regional Park and Open Space District (2009) 46 Cal.4th 282, the Supreme Court resolved an apparent conflict between Public Resources Code sections 5540 and 5565 in favor of a park district’s ability to hold real property without dedicating it to park or open space purposes.

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If You Want to Act Like a Real Estate Broker, and Want to be Paid Like One, Then You Better be One

By Glen Hansen

In Venturi & Company LLC v. Pacific Malibu Development Corporation (April 10, 2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 1417, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that a trial court erred in granting summary judgment and entirely dismissing a plaintiff’s claim for payment for services rendered to a development company because the plaintiff was not licensed as a real estate broker. Plaintiff may be able to recover some payment since a portion of the services provided by plaintiff were not exclusively those of a real estate broker. But the dispute could have been avoided if plaintiff had properly been licensed as a real estate broker.

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The Golden Rule of Assessments: The Levy Cannot Exceed Reasonable Cost of Proportional Special Benefit

By Cori Badgley

In 2008, the California Supreme Court held that the proper standard of review in deciding whether assessments imposed by local agencies violate Article XIII D of the California Constitution is de novo. (Silicon Valley Taxpayers’ Association, Inc. v. Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (2008) 44 Cal.4th 431 (“SVTA”); see California Supreme Court Rules Open Space Assessment is Invalid Special Tax Under Proposition 218.)  The Court also held that the local agency has the burden of proof.  (Id.)  In light of the holding in SVTA, the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District reevaluated its decision to uphold the creation of a special assessment district by the City of Pomona.  Although the court applied the de novo standard of review instead of substantial evidence, the court still found that the assessments imposed by the City of Pomona through the creation of the Downtown Pomona Property and Business Improvement District (“PBID”) did not violate Article XIII D of the California Constitution.

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Consent Unreasonably Withheld Amounts to Breach of Purchase and Sale Agreement

By Cori Badgley

In Peak-Las Positas Partners v. Bollag (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 101, the court reminded the defendant, Michael Bollag, that the term “consent” in a contract does not give the party unbridled freedom to refuse consent.  Instead, the implied requirement of good faith and fair dealing requires that the refusal of consent be reasonable and not merely based on “personal taste, convenience or sensibility.”

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Through Equity, A Court Can Create a Roadway Easement

By Glen C. Hansen

In Linthicum v. Butterfield (April 2, 2009) 2009 Cal.App. LEXIS 473 (as modified on April 9, 2009, 2009 Cal.App.LEXIS 496), the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, affirmed a trial court’s creation of an equitable easement. In that case, Plaintiffs bought a parcel of land in a mountainous area near Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara County. A 60-year old roadway existed over that parcel. Defendant owners of neighboring parcels used that roadway as the only access to their land.  Plaintiffs sought an injunction to prevent Defendants from using the roadway.  Defendants cross-complained to quiet title to an easement for the roadway.  The primary issue in that case was whether the trial court abused its discretion in creating an “equitable easement” over the roadway in favor of the Defendants.

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Short Sale Workshop

Cori Badgley, associate at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be speaking at the following seminar on April 29, 2009.

Smart Ways to Stay ON TRACK and not get DE-RAILED

  • Current Real Estate statistics & how to survive the Market
  • 1031 Exchange and Structured Sales
  • Short Sales, late house payments, danger of Foreclosure
  • Refinancing to a safer and better loan
  • Legal advice about Short Sales and tax breaks for homeowners
  • Loan Modifications
  • Rescuing your 401K

Learn how to help your personal situation and get solid advice from leading professionals in 6 different fields.

  • On Track Workshop
  • Wednesday, April 29, 2009 - 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Holiday Inn Express Grand Ballroom
  • 121 Bank Street, Grass Valley, California
  • Refreshments will be served

The Workshop is FREE and Seating is Limited

Please RSVP to reserve your spot in the workshop. Call (530) 268-2488 or register on the website: www.ontrackworkshop.com

Don't "Condemn First, Decide What to do With the Property Later"

By Glen Hansen

California's eminent domain law permits acquisition of property only for a “proposed project” that is intended for public use. In City of Stockton v. Marina Towers, LLC (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 93, ("Marina") the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District held that the City of Stockton ("City") was unable to satisfy its burden of proving that it had the right to condemn property on its waterfront because the City’s resolution of necessity did not contain a sufficient project description.

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CLAIMS TO RECOVER REMEDIATION COSTS MAY BE BARRED AFTER 10 YEARS

By Glen Hansen

When governmental agencies force owners of real property to remediate contaminated soil and groundwater, the owners will invariably attempt to recover the remediation costs from those persons or entities responsible for the contamination. That may include former owners of the property or former operators of facilities on the property. If the contamination has been present in the soil and groundwater for many years, a lawsuit to recover remediation costs from the responsible parties may be barred by the 3-year statute of limitations in Code of Civil Procedure section 338, subdivision (b). However, if the contamination is still migrating through the soil or groundwater, the plaintiff may be able to avoid the bar of the 3-year statute of limitations by alleging a continuing nuisance or trespass.

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Dream Home Checklist: Architect, Contractor, Land Use Attorney

By William W. Abbott and Nathan Jones

According to leading lifestyle magazines, the status question is no longer: who is your architect, but: who is your land use attorney? And if you want to build your dream house along the coast, your attorney’s telephone number needs to be on your cell phone’s speed dial.

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What Standard Escrow Terms Will A Court Imply In A Real Estate Purchase Contract?

By Glen Hansen

 

Real estate buyers and sellers often draft very simple contracts to express their mutual intentions. Courts will enforce such contracts if the terms are certain enough for the court to know what to enforce. But what if important terms and conditions are missing in the written contract? What standard or customary conditions will a court read into such agreements? The Supreme Court addressed that issue in the recent case of Patel v. Liebermensch (2008) 45 Cal.4th 344, where the parties’ signed purchase contract was silent as to the length of the escrow period.

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Full Disclosure- Reference Documents Must be Attached to Referendum Petition to be Legally Sufficient Under State Elections Code

By Nathan Jones and Leslie Z. Walker

In May of 2006, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance “Adopting the redevelopment plan for the Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Project” (“Ordinance”). The ordinance increased the size of redevelopment activity in Bayview-Hunter’s Point from 147 acres to 1,500 acres. Many in the community viewed the redevelopment project as an attempt to gentrify the area aimed at dispossessing working-class residents in the area.  The case of Defend Bayview Hunters Point Committee v. City and County of San Francisco (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 846, illustrates a pitfall for organizers who fail to attach reference materials of substance to a petition challenging a local redevelopment ordinance.

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Peril for the Unwary: Use It or Lose It Against The Coastal Commission

By Cori Badgley and Nathan Jones

Estoppel is a pervasive legal concept dating back to the common law of England. Though it takes many forms, its application revolves around a party’s action or inaction to the prejudice of the other side or to a decision maker. Estoppel is a legal doctrine that may be used in certain situations to prevent a person from relying upon certain rights, or upon a set of facts (e.g. words said or actions performed) which differs from an earlier set of facts.  Inquasi-judicial tribunals like the Coastal Commission, the agency may both oppose you and act in a judicial capacity. The case of Mt. Holyoke Homes, LP v. California Coastal Commission (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th illustrates that estoppel applies when a party continues to negotiate with the California Coastal Commission (“Commission”) even though the Coastal Commission has already lost jurisdiction over the disputed matter.

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Court to Homeowner Association Board: No Judicial Deference Just Because You Like Palm Trees

By Glen Hansen

In Robert Ekstrom v. Marquesa at Monarch Beach Homeowners Association (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 1111, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, emphasized that boards of directors of homeowners associations do not have the discretion to ignore the express requirements of the conditions, covenants and restrictions (“CC&Rs”) for the development, despite the “judicial deference rule” adopted by the California Supreme Court in Lamden v. La Jolla Shores Clubdominium Homeowner’s Assn. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 249.

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Extinguishing Easements Through Merging Properties Under Common Ownership

By Glen Hansen

In Zanelli v. McGrath (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 615, the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District clarified the circumstances under which easements may be extinguished under the doctrine of merger where the dominant and servient tenements are jointly owned by more than one person. As with most easement cases, the specific facts in Zanelli were critical to both the establishment and extinguishment of the easement in question.

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"Unlike A Cat, The Mechanic's Lien Here Has One Life, Not Nine," Says Court of Appeal

By Glen Hansen

In T.O. IX, LLC v. Superior Court (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 140, a contractor built a street through a nine-home subdivision developed by the property owners. The contractor alleged that he had not been paid. The contractor then recorded nine individual mechanic’s liens against each home; or, as the court summarized: “nine separate liens, at the full amount each, to secure the contractor’s right to be paid once.” The property owners applied ex parte for an order permitting them to release the parcels from the nine mechanic’s liens by posting a single surety bond in an amount equal to one and one-half times the total amount of the contractor’s claim, as provided under Civil Code section 3143. The trial court denied the owners’ application. The Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, reversed.

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Appellate Court Grants Request to Reduce Super Majority Vote Requirement Codified in Subdivision CC&Rs

By William W. Abbott

A byproduct of modern planning is the proliferation of property owner associations, mostly centered on residential developments. At the time of formation however, associations are subject to minimal oversight by the State of California, and then only for residential development projects subject to review by the Department of Real Estate. One of the challenges facing associations is continued active participation by the owners in association matters. For associations facing apathetic owners, it may be difficult to obtain the necessary level of votes to take actions on behalf of the association, and in situations in which association documents require a super-majority vote to pass resolutions for certain actions, a stalemate may readily occur.   In 1985, the legislature, recognizing the important role that associations play, enacted statutory provisions which allowed interested parties to file a court action to reduce the required voting percentage in compelling circumstances (Civ. Code § 1356). The recent case of Mission Shores Association v. Pheil (September 5, 2008) 2008 Cal.App.Lexis 1395 illustrates how this works in real life.

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Abbott & Kindermann Mid-Summer Real Estate Review

By Rob Hofmann

This mid-summer review of real estate cases covers three interesting matters of potentially broad application. The first case Goldstein v. Barak Construction, deals with the precarious position of unlicensed contractors. The second, Lange v. Schilling, reinforces the significance of the mandatory medication provision of the standard CAR purchase agreement. Finally, Steiner v. Thexton, wrestles with the penultimate flexible purchase agreement, and how a buyer may lose the deal absent adequate consideration.

 

Rob Hofmann is an associate with Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, and is a member of the City of Davis Planning Commission, and a member of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, environmental and planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

 

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

Unsupported Option or Purchase Agreements: A Cautionary Tale

By Rob Hofmann

On May 28, 2008, the Third Appellate District for the Court of Appeal hammered home that technical form over substance rules in real property purchase transactions, irrespective of the parties’ original intent. At issue was a run of the mill purchase and sale transaction, overseen by attorneys on both sides, which granted the buyer a due diligence period to inspect the property and the ability to cancel the transaction if the buyer concluded the property ultimately did not meet its specifications. In this instance, however, the seller chose to cancel the deal during the due diligence period despite the jilted buyer having already spent some $60,000 obtaining a parcel split and related entitlements. The court not only rejected the buyer’s request to enforce the contract but also required the out-of-luck buyer to pay the seller’s $80,000-plus in attorneys’ fees incurred in defense of the buyer’s challenge of the deal cancelation. Steiner v. Thexton (2008) 163 Cal. App.4th 359.

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Contractor Subject to Prejudgment Attachment and Not Entitled to Any Compensation When Project Commenced Before Licensure

By Rob Hofmann

Plaintiffs Amanda Goldstein and Eric Mizrahi contracted with Ami Weisz and ‘his company’ Barak Construction (“Defendants”) to build a new garage and related remodeling at the projected cost of $363,000. Neither Defendant was a licensed contractor at the time the parties entered into the contract nor when work on the project commenced. Although it is unclear whether Plaintiffs were initially aware of Defendants’ licensure status, Defendants concede they were not licensed until some three months into the project. Plaintiffs contend that Defendants subsequently abandoned the project prior to completion and with material defects despite having allegedly already been paid $362,660.50.

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BOILERPLATE LANGUAGE BITES AGAIN - Subcontractor Must Pay Developer's Defense Costs Despite Jury Finding Subcontractor Not Negligent

 By Rob Hofmann

On July 21, 2008, the California Supreme Court again pointed out the potential for devastating consequences when the terms in a boilerplate contract provision are triggered. Specifically, the Court upheld a fairly typical construction contract indemnification provision that required a subcontractor to defend the general contractor for claims and arising out of the subcontractor’s work, even though a jury absolved the contractor was subsequently absolved of any liability. This even included the general contractor’s costs of suit against the subcontractor to resolve the dispute over the scope of the indemnification provision. Crawford v Weather Shield Mfg, Inc. (2008) 44 Cal.4th 541

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Wronged Real Property Buyer Pays Dearly For Not Complying With Standard Purchase Agreement Pre-Litigation Mediation Provision

By Rob Hofmann

The Court of Appeal (Third Appellate District) has reaffirmed the judicial trend to give great deference to the terms of an executed real property purchase agreement as written, emphatically stating that the pre-litigation mediation provision at issue in Lange v. Schilling (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 1412 “means what it says and will be enforced.” Substantial conformity with the provision requirements is not enough to qualify to recover attorney’s fees. 

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SELLER BEWARE!! - What You See Isn't Necessarily What You Get!

By Rob Hofmann

Each Sale Transaction is Unique

Real property purchase and sale transactions are so common place that it may be hard to justify paying a lawyer to review, let alone prepare, the applicable documentation. This is especially true when the transaction appears straightforward and the broker is taking a healthy cut off the top. Why pay an attorney when boilerplate agreements are readily available for little or no cost from the broker/agent, online, or even the local stationary store? Given that the broker or agent is precluded from giving legal advice, there are any numbers of reasons.      

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