By Glen C. Hansen

In Honchariw v. County of Stanislaus (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 388, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District held that a landowner’s inverse condemnation claim for damages against the County of Stanislaus caused by an unconstitutional temporary taking was time-barred under Government Code section 66499.37. The owner previously had filed a successful petition for writ of mandate challenging the disapproval of a subdivision application, which resulted in the County’s reconsideration of the application and eventual approval of the project. However, the owner’s subsequent claim for compensation damages was time-barred under section 66499.37 because the mandamus proceeding had not established that there had been a compensable taking.

Continue Reading Do You Seek Compensation For An Unconstitutional Taking? Then Plead That With The Mandamus Action To Avoid The Potential Statute Of Limitations Bar!

Save Our Heritage Organisation v. City of San Diego (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 163.

By Glen C. Hansen

Balboa Park, a large urban park in San Diego, includes the buildings and plazas constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the adjoining buildings and improvements subsequently constructed for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition (the Complex). Visitors enter the Complex via the Cabrillo Bridge (“Bridge”). The Bridge and the Complex are a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark District. A project was proposed to return the plazas to purely pedestrian zones. The project included a new “Centennial” bridge, reconfigured roadways and a new pay-parking structure. The City of San Diego (“City”) approved a site development plan for the project.

Continue Reading ‘It’s Good Enough For Government Work’: Project May Violate Some General Plan Policies So Long As It Is Consistent With A Majority Of The General Plan

By Natalie Kuffel and Glen Hansen

In R&R Pipeline, Inc. v. Bond Safeguard Insurance Company (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 438, the Court of Appeal for the Second District held that a contractor who provided infrastructure work on a subdivision could timely file a $1.2 million lawsuit to enforce a subdivision improvement bond because the project was private and not public, even though the work was required by a subdivision agreement between the developer and a public entity.

Continue Reading Is It A Public Or Private Improvement Project? Court Reviews The Differences With Millions In Claims On The Line.

By William W. Abbott

Tower Lane Properties v. City of Los Angeles (February 28, 2014, B244092) ___ Cal.App.4th ___. This one is not complicated. Facing an applicant’s request for a grading permit on a hillside to construct three homes and accessory uses on three existing parcels, the city required the property owner to obtain a tentative map. The requirement stemmed from the city’s ordinance which specified that a map was required if grading activity involved a hillside site of 60,000 square feet or more. The city offered a waiver of the map requirement, conditioned upon completion of CEQA documentation. Passing on the waiver option, the applicant filed suit to set aside the requirement to process the tentative map as no subdivision was involved.

Continue Reading City Subdivision Regulations Do Not Apply To Family Compound On Existing Lots

By William W. Abbott

If you were hoping for an insightful article on human relationships, you are out of luck and clearly, you are reading the wrong blog. But if you are interested in bonding as it relates to subdivisions and improvement agreements, read on. With a frequency slightly ahead of locusts appearing every seventeen years, cases involving subdivision improvement bonds are cyclical, trailing serious downturns in the real estate development market. Two cases this year illustrate interesting features of this practice area.


By William W. Abbott

The last market downturn has resulted in Subdivision Map Act (“SMA”) cases involving circumstances in which the parties to a purchase or option agreement pertaining to a portion of a legal parcel failed to include express language as a contingency requiring compliance with the SMA. Depending upon whether the real estate market is rising or falling, both buyers and sellers have taken advantage of the limitations of Government Code section 64499.30. To date, these cases include Black Hills Investments, Inc. v. Albertson’s, Inc. (2007) 146 Cal.App.4th 883 and Sixells, LLC v. Cannery Business Park (2008) 170 Cal.App.4th 648.

Continue Reading Buyer And Seller Can Cure A SMA Violation Under Black Hills Through Subsequent Agreement Modification

By William W. Abbott

Not surprisingly, the building industry was able to convince the Legislature to keep pending maps alive for another two years. AB 116, Chap. 62 Stats. 2013. Fortunately, the Legislature abandoned its existing complicated statutory formula for determining winners and losers, opting for much simpler protocols. If the TSM was approved after January 1, 2000 and the map was pending on July 11, 2013, the tentative map is extended by 24 months. This extension occurs automatically.

Continue Reading California Legislature Breathes Life Into Tentative Maps One More Time

By William W. Abbott

Pacific Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates, LLC v. City of Los Angeles (November 29, 2012, S187243) ___Cal.4th ___. In a 6 to 1 decision, the California Supreme Court concluded that mobilehome park conversions subject to Government Code section 66427.5 of the Subdivision Map Act are also subject to the Coastal Act and Mello Act (the latter for affordable housing in the Coastal zone.) In 1991, the Legislature enacted Government Code section 66427.5. This new code section set forth the particular determinations under the Subdivision Map Act when local government was processing a subdivision map application for conversion of a rental park to an owner occupied park and was intended to narrow the scope of local government inquiry which might otherwise be permitted by the Subdivision Map Act when processing other types of proposed subdivisions. The 1991 legislation included language which stated, in conjunction with local government review of the tentative map, that “The scope of the hearing shall be limited to the issue of compliance with this section.”

Continue Reading Mobilehome Park Conversions Trigger Coastal and Mello Act Compliance Requirements

By William W. Abbott

Within the Subdivision Map Act (Map Act), the processing of a mobilehome park conversion (from rental to individual ownership) invokes some of the more complex procedures, and from a local government perspective, potentially involves an application with a lot of emotional baggage. Unlike other Map Act related applications, park conversions involve a tenant survey, the results of which have been the subject of a several appellate court decisions. The recent appellate opinion in Chino MHC, LP v. City of Chino (October 31, 2012, E053467) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, provides guidance in two areas: what is the effect under the Permit Streamlining Act of a city determination that an application is complete when later reviewing the mandated tenant survey form, and, are the results of the tenant survey the basis to deny a conversion request?

Continue Reading Appellate Court Applies Permit Streamlining Act to Affirm Effect of City Acknowledging Completeness of Application; Restricts Consideration of Tenant Survey in Mobilehome Park Conversion Application

By William W. Abbott

Sierra Club v. Napa County Board of Supervisors (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 162.

In 1991, the California Legislature amended the Subdivision Map Act to restrict the use of boundary line adjustments by limiting their use to four or fewer adjacent parcels. Government Code Section 66412(d). While intended to deal with the reconfiguration of large ranches without going through the subdivision process, the 1991 amendment made the process of making minor technical adjustments between contiguous parcels unnecessarily more cumbersome then what was really necessary. (Essentially, the use of a nail gun to put in a thumbtack.) Local governments and engineers developed different strategies for working around the amendments. One of those was processing multiple sequential adjustments. 

Continue Reading Court Upholds Processing of Sequential Boundary Line Adjustments