County's Unreasonable Change In Position To Stop Project Results In $1 Million Temporary Takings Award.

By Glen C. Hansen

In Lockaway Storage v. County of Alameda (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 161, the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District affirmed a trial court judgment that found that the County of Alameda was liable for $989,640.96 in damages for a temporary taking of plaintiff’s property, where the county stopped work on plaintiff’s project in light of a growth control initiative, even though the project fell within an exemption in the initiative and county officials failed to even consider such exemption, and where the county’s action in stopping the project constituted an unreasonable change from the County’s prior representations made to the property owner.

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The U.S. Supreme Court's Nollan/Dolan Jurisprudence Is Catching Up With The California Supreme Court in Ehrlich v. Culver City

By Glen C. Hansen

For nearly twenty years, Fifth Amendment takings challenges to adjudicative land-use exactions and permit conditions have been governed by the dual Supreme Court cases of Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1987),and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994). In Nollan, the Court held that a government could, without paying the compensation, demand the easement as a condition for granting a development permit the government was entitled to deny, provided that the exaction would substantially advance the same government interest that would furnish a valid ground for denial of the permit. The Court further refined that requirement in Dolan, holding that an adjudicative exaction requiring dedication of private property must also be “‘roughly proportional’ . . . both in nature and extent to the impact of the proposed development.” However, Nollan and Dolan involved the dedication of real property interests. In Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, ___ U.S. ___, 2013 U.S. Lexis 4918 (2013), the Court held in a 5-4 decision that “the government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy the requirements of Nollan and Dolan even when the government denies the permit and even when its demand is for money.” 

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Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court Invalidation Of Local Inclusionary Ordinance; Remanded For Further Review

By William W. Abbott

In California Building Industry Assn. v. City of San Jose (June 6, 2013, H038563) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, the City of San Jose adopted an inclusionary ordinance, requiring that new residential projects include units affordable to specified income ranges. Alternatively, the ordinance permitted the developer to pay an in lieu fee or dedicate land. The California Building Industry Association (“CBIA”) filed suit, challenging the validity of the ordinance on its face on the basis that the ordinance lacked any nexus to the deleterious effects of new residential development. CBIA did not allege that a compensable takings had occurred, but rather argued that the City lacked sufficient justification for the ordinance. The trial court agreed with CBIA and invalidated the ordinance. The City appealed.

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Public Officials Are Immune From Tort Liability For Legislative Actions Involving Misrepresentations That Are Motivated By Fraud, Corruption Or Actual Malice.

By Glen Hansen

In Freeny v. City of San Buenaventura (June 4, 2013, B240893) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held, in an action against a city and five city council members for compensatory and punitive damages for voting against an application for building permits and variances, that public employees’ tort immunity for legislative decision-making under Government Code sections 820.2, 821 and 821.2 applies even when that decision-making is also alleged to involve the making of misrepresentations motivated by actual fraud, corruption or actual malice.

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US Army Corps Denies A §404 Permit: Can A Takings Claim Be Based On Consideration Of The Economic Affect On the Wetlands Parcel Only?

By Glen C. Hansen

Lost Tree Village Corp. v. United States, ___ F.3d ___, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 690 (Fed.Cir. 2013). Between 1968 and 1974, Lost Tree Village Corporation (“Lost Tree”) purchased approximately 2,750 acres of property on Florida's mid-Atlantic coast, which included a barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean. That property included 4.99 acres now known as Plat 57, which is part of the entire peninsula known as the Island of John's Island. From 1969 through the mid-1990s, Lost Tree developed approximately 1,300 acres it purchased into the upscale gated residential community of John's Island. The development was made in a piecemeal manner, and not as a master-planned community.

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Defenses of Equitable Estoppel and Laches Barred Where Billboard Was Unlawfully Erected; Claim of Inverse Condemnation Rejected On Same Grounds

By Katherine J. Hart

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A Series of Unfortunate Events... That are Not Compensable under Inverse Condemnation

By Cori Badgley

In Gutierrez v. County of San Bernardino (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 831, the appellate court grappled with the application of the “reasonableness” takings test that applies to flood control projects. The court concluded that the county acted reasonably, and therefore, there was no taking.

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That's the Way the Buildings Crumble: City's Purchase and Demolition of Adjacent Buildings is Not a Taking

By Cori M. Badgley 

In City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (2011) 194 Cal.App.4th 210, plaintiffs argued that the city’s actions of purchasing properties in areas near the LAX airport and then demolishing the buildings constituted inverse condemnation of adjacent properties owned by plaintiffs. The court, however, was not persuaded, and plaintiffs’ suit was dismissed.

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Timing is Everything: Ninth Circuit Dismisses Takings Claims for Being Both Too Late and Too Early

By Cori M. Badgley

In order to avoid having your takings claim dismissed, your timing has to be just right. Unfortunately for Colony Cove Properties, LLC (“Colony Cove”), the timing was off, and its takings claim was dismissed by the court for being both too late (facial challenge) and too early (as-applied challenge).

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You Get What You Pay For: Rent Control Ordinance Upheld by Ninth Circuit

By Cori Badgley

In 2009, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a controversial determination that a rent control ordinance relating to mobilehome parks constituted a regulatory taking. (See “Take This! Wealth-Transfer under Rent Control Ordinance Constitutes a Regulatory Taking.”) In 2010 in Guggenheim v. City of Goleta (December 22, 2010, No. 06-56306) __ F.3d __ (“Guggenheim II”), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc reversed its previous decision, holding that the plaintiffs had no distinct investment-backed expectations when they purchased the property. Therefore, the rent control ordinance did not constitute a taking of their property.

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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.

Department of Water Resources is a "Person" for Purposes of the California Endangered Species Act

By Leslie Z. Walker

In a case with a curious procedural posture, the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, ruled that the Department of Water Resources is a “Person” for the purposes of Fish and Game Code section 2080 and thus is prohibited from taking an endangered or threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act (Fish & Game Code, § 2050 et seq.) Kern County Water Agency v. Watershed Enforcers (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 969.

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The Adam Bros. Farming Saga Ends at the Ninth Circuit

By Cori M. Badgley

Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. (“Adam”) has spent many years and a lot of money battling the County of Santa Barbara (“county”) over its wetlands delineation that covered land farmed by Adam. The saga began in California superior court, in which Adam brought suit claiming violations of the federal Equal Protection, Due Process and Takings clauses and seeking damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. The superior court found the takings claims were not ripe, and Adam amended its complaint to eliminate those claims. At trial, the court awarded Adam declaratory and injunctive relief and a jury awarded Adam damages. On appeal, the appellate court eliminated the damages, but upheld the declaratory and injunctive relief, holding that the wetlands delineation was contrary to law. See $5 Million Judgment Against Santa Barbara County Overturned by Appellate Court.

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Takings Analysis Potentially Applies to Judicial Decisions as Well

By William W. Abbott

In an earlier case involving Takings jurisprudence, Supreme Court Justice Brennan once asked, “If a policeman must know the Constitution, then why not a planner?” Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (2010) ___ U.S. ___. Indeed, why not, and should the same question be asked of state courts? This issue came before the United States Supreme Court in the form of a submerged lands case from the State of Florida. Pursuant to Florida law, a beach front property owner has several rights. With respect to the slow addition of sand extending seaward into the ocean (accretion), the additional land belongs to the property owner. The sudden addition of land seaward (avulsion) however, belongs to the state as the owner of the submerged lands seaward of the mean high tide line. In the latter situation, the property line remains where it was prior to the avulsion. Florida law permits cities and counties to undertake beach restoration projects, typically involving placement of sand on submerged lands on the seaward side of the dividing property line. As part of that process, the State establishes the erosion control line. Once established, the common law of accretion (to increase or decrease property), no longer applies.

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Take This! Wealth-Transfer under Rent Control Ordinance Constitutes a Regulatory Taking

By Cori Badgley

In Guggenheim v. City of Goleta (2009) 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 21313, the court made two important rulings: a challenge to an ordinance on its face, instead of as applied to plaintiffs, could be brought as a regulatory taking claim and a mobile home park rent control ordinance constituted a regulatory taking under Penn Central. Courts have rarely upheld regulatory takings claims, and for a rent control ordinance to be found a taking would appear to greatly expand the possible situations in which a regulatory taking has occurred.

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Delay in Granting Ministerial Electrical Permit is Not a Regulatory Taking

By Cori M. Badgley and Nathan Jones

In Shaw v. County of Santa Cruz (2008) 170 Cal.App.4th 229, a developer asserted that a temporary regulatory taking occurred when the County of Santa Cruz (“County”) improperly and unlawfully delayed granting a ministerial permit for electricity. After extensively analyzing the various regulatory takings tests, the Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, held that no regulatory taking had occurred.

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Court Answers Monk's Prayers: City, Thou Shall Not Take!

By William W. Abbott and Nathan Jones

While much is written about takings claims in the field of land use practice, the reality has been that for a number of reasons, it is extremely difficult for a California property owner to make a successful legal claim. In the context of a regulatory (as opposed to a physical) taking, the fact pattern to support a regulatory taking has to be extreme. The recent case of Monks v. City of Rancho Palos Verdes (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 263, vividly illustrates the types of extraordinary facts that must exist for a property owner to cross the finish line first.

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Applicability of Nollan and Dolan to Facial Challenges to Inclusionary Housing Ordinances

By William W. Abbott

In response to low production of affordable housing units, the City of Santa Monica adopted new and amended ordinances to increase the supply of affordable housing in June, 2006. These enactments were challenged by a coalition of multifamily residential developers on multiple grounds, with two issues going to the Court of Appeals: do the holdings of Nollan and Dolan apply to the ordinance enactment (as compared to the application of an ordinance to a given individual), and were the enactments subject to approval by the Department of Housing and Community Development (“HCD”) pursuant to its review powers of Housing Elements? As to both issues, the appellate court ruled in the negative. Action Apartment Association v. City of Santa Monica (August 28, 2008) 2008 Cal.App.Lexis 1372.

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Full Ownership by Public Agency of Drainage Improvement Not Needed to Prove Physical Taking

By Cori Badgley

In Skoumbas v. City of Orinda (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 783, Konstantine and Alexandra Skoumbas claimed that damage caused by a storm drain, a portion of which was owned by the City of Orinda (“City”), amounted to a physical taking of their property. Agreeing with the City, the trial court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that a taking could not have occurred where the City did not own the entire storm drain. The Court of Appeal, First Appellate District reversed the trial court’s ruling and held that the fact that the City only owned a portion of the storm drain did not preclude the conclusion that a physical taking occurred. Instead, the court ruled the question is “whether the City acted reasonably in its maintenance and control over those portions of the drainage system it does own.”

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A Detailed Record Can Make All the Difference: Court Upholds Commission's Imposition of $5.3 Million Fee

By Cori M. Badgley

In Ocean Harbor House Homeowners Association v. California Coastal Commission (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 215, the California Coastal Commission (“Commission”) imposed a $5.3 million mitigation fee on a homeowner’s association that needed a permit to build a seawall to protect residences that would otherwise fall into the ocean. Attempting to find relief from the fee, the homeowner’s association sued the Commission, but the court denied all relief and upheld the fee.

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The Development Blues: Property Lies Undeveloped for 30 Years and Counting

By Cori M. Badgley and Kate J. Hart

In an attempt to invalidate or, at a minimum, get damages for the California Coastal Commission’s (“Commission”) denial of a coastal development permit, Charles A. Pratt Construction Co., Inc. (“Pratt”) brought suit against the Commission, claiming that the Commission’s decision violated Pratt’s vested right to develop its property and, in the alternative, if the decision was valid, the Commission committed a regulatory taking by denying the coastal development permit. In Charles A. Pratt Construction Co., Inc. v. California Coastal Commission (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1068, the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District upheld the Commission’s denial of the permit and dismissed Pratt’s regulatory takings claim for lack of ripeness.

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Governor of Montana Successfully Asserts Sovereign Immunity to Takings Claim

By Cori Badgley

After losing on its state takings claim in Montana state court, a mining company was then turned away by federal court on constitutional grounds. In federal court, the governor of Montana, who was the named defendant, argued that the governor and the state were immune from suit in federal court under the rarely referenced Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the governor and dismissed the mining company’s suit.

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Update on $36 Million Judgment Against Half Moon Bay

Responding to an adverse $36 million judgment handed down in November of 2007, the City of Half Moon Bay has negotiated a settlement whereby the City will pass legislation allowing the developer to develop the property formerly delineated as wetlands. In the case leading to settlement, Yamagiwa v. City of Half Moon Bay (N.D. Cal. 2007) 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 22573, the court awarded the developer $36 million for the wetlands accidentally created by the City that, according to the court, amounted to a physical taking of the property. 

See Abbott & Kindermann's full review of this case entitled City's Accidental Creation of Wetlands Leads to Finding of Physical Taking and a $36.8 million Judgment Against City.

Cori Badgley is an associate with Abbott & Kindermann, LLP.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, environmental and planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann 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.

A Dim Light at the End of a Long Tunnel: Municipal Land Use Decisions and Substantive Due Process

By Joel Ellinwood, AICP

A July 1, 2005 article posted on this blog termed the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lingle v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. (2005) 544 U.S. 528 a “sea change” in 5th Amendment regulatory takings claim analysis by striking the “substantially advances a legitimate state interest” test. Now the fallout from Lingle from the Ninth Circuit makes it clear that the test survives to form the basis for 14th Amendment substantive due process challenges to land use regulations. However, the ultimate viability of such claims remains to be seen. Continue Reading...

City's Accidental Creation of Wetlands Leads to Finding of Physical Taking and a $36.8 million Judgment Against City

By Cori Badgley

While compensation for regulatory takings remains elusive for California landowners, recovery of monetary damages for physical takings is established jurisprudence. In a stunning reminder of the physical/regulatory taking dichotomy, a federal court recently awarded over $36 million dollars in damages against the City of Half Moon Bay (“City”) whose assessment district project created wetlands on private property. The plaintiff’s case was based on theories of inverse condemnation, trespass and nuisance. Further, the court granted injunctive relief against the City from collecting assessments from the plaintiff. Not surprisingly, the City just announced that it will appeal the decision.  We will see if they have more luck with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Subdivision Woes: A fault line, a sea cliff, and two wetlands...so what's the problem here?

by William W. Abbott and Janell M. Bogue

In Dunn v. County of Santa Barbara (2006) 2006 Cal.App.Lexis 74, David Dunn submitted a subdivision application for his six acre parcel located in the unincorporated Summerland area of Santa Barbara County. His land had some unique characteristics: it was located on a sea cliff and was bisected diagonally by an earthquake fault. He wanted to divide it into two equal size parcels, as there were two possible building envelopes on the land and the area was zoned for a minimum sized lot of three acres. The property, because of its proximity to the coast, is under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission and is subject to the County's Local Coastal Plan ("LCP").

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Don't Fence Me In

by Sophie Rowlands

Apparently, you can still buy a home in California where the cattle (if not buffalo) do roam. Just look for property located within a designated Open Range area. Pursuant to California Food and Agriculture Code section 17124, the board of supervisors in any California county may pass an ordinance devoting the entire county or certain portions of it to livestock grazing. Such areas do not have to be limited to publically owned lands; they can and often do encompass privately owned lands.

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Hotel San Remo: You Can Check Out, But Can You Ever Leave?

by William W. Abbott

In San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco (2005) 125 S.Ct. 2491, the United States Supreme Court ventured once again in the area of takings jurisprudence, addressing the circumstances in which property owners may be trapped in state court rather than federal district court. As disappointed property owners typically prefer federal court, the San Remo decision is important and overdue as a clarification as to litigation tactics.

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Taking Kelo For What It Is Worth

by Elias E. Guzman

Eminent domain actions are guided by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees that governments shall not take private property "for public use, without just compensation." It is this notion of "public use" that was examined in the recent Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London, 125 S.Ct. 2655 (2005). In Kelo, the Court held that a local government body, or its agent, can in fact use eminent domain to take private property for a "private use," as long as the taking is justified by being part of a larger economic development plan that helps or benefits the community.

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Hawaiian Case Prompts Sea Change in Takings Law

by Joel Ellinwood, AICP and Janell M. Bogue

In May the Supreme Court announced a unanimous decision that changes 25 years of Fifth Amendment jurisprudence, eliminating the "substantially advances" test for determination of whether a government regulation results in a taking of property. In Lingle v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 544 U.S. 528 (2005), the Court said that the test first laid out in Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U.S. 255 (1980) was not appropriate for determining whether a government regulation requires compensation. This clarifies what was until now a somewhat murky and muddled area of law.

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Temporary Moratorium on Development In the Lake Tahoe Basin Is Not a Taking

by Diane G. Kindermann and Robert T. Yamachika

The United States Supreme Court on April 23, 2002 decided in Tahoe- Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 535 U.S. 302 (2002) that temporary, government-imposed development moratoria do not automatically amount to a regulatory taking of private property requiring just compensation.

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