Takings

Supreme Court will review Williamson County decision requiring exhaustion of state remedies before bringing a takings claim in federal court

The Supreme Court has taken certiorari in a case that will decide whether to affirm or overrule the holding of Williamson County Regional Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985), which held that a property owner must exhaust state remedies before bringing a takings claim in federal court. Because proceedings in state court can be appealed to the Supreme Court, that rule means that the only way to get federal court review of a state takings claim is by getting the Court to accept review on a state supreme court decision, thereby precluding federal input into...

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Supreme Court denies certiorari in inclusionary zoning case

As it has in the past, the Supreme Court has refused to review a state court opinion that upheld a local ordinance that required housing developers to pay a fee to be used for the development of affordable housing.  616 Croft Ave. LLC v. City of W. Hollywood, 207 Cal. Rptr.3d 729 (Ct. App. 2016), cert. denied, 2017 WL 1064331 (Oct. 30, 2017). The lower court opinion relied on an earlier ruling by the...

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Supreme Court rejects regulatory takings challenge to zoning merger provision

In Murr v. Wisconsin, 2017 WL 2694699 (U.S. 2017), the Supreme Court held that a zoning law that treated two contiguous parcels owned by the same persons as one parcel to determine minimum developable lot size was not an unconstitutional taking of property without just compensation. The merger law provided for variances that might allow development for lots that contained less than one acre of developable...

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Texas beachfront property rights after hurricanes

In general, when property borders change because of gradual accretion or erosion along rivers or oceans, then owners gain or lose land because of those changes.  If land is gradually added to an owner’s land by gradual build-up of sand or silt, then the owner’s property increases to that extent; the reverse is also true. But if the border changes suddenly (“avulsion”) then the borders do not change. The courts have generally applied these principles to beachfront property to determine the border between the private property rights of beachfront owners and the land owned by the...

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Taking of property when an easement is expanded beyond its original scope

In Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 1257 (2014), landowners objected when an easement that had been granted for railroad purposes was converted to a trail for public hiking. An easement is a permanent right to use land owned by another for a specific purpose. State law determines how to interpret the scope of the purpose. Some states interpret a general right of way as not only giving the...

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North Carolina finds taking of properties restricted from development because listed for highway takings

In Kirby v. N.C. Dep’t of Transp., 2016 WL 3221090 (N.C. 2016), the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the state took property without just compensation under the state constitution when it published maps showing where roads would be placed in the future and what properties would have to be taken to enable those roads to exist. The underlying statute imposes restrictions on properties identified on the officials maps as...

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Regulatory taking of water rights

In a prior post, I explained the holding of a Texas Supreme Court opinion that held that regulation of water rights might constitute a regulatory taking. The text of that post is at the end of this one. A subsequent case involving similar facts actually held that limits on withdrawal of groundwater designed to preserve water for drinking purposes actually took the property rights of water rights owners who had received permits to use the water to irrigate their pecan crops. That case is...

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Takings clause applies to physical seizure of personal property

The Supreme Court held in Horne v. Dep't of Agric., — U.S. — (2015), that the takings clause applies to physical takings of personal property (like cars) as well as to real property. Thus a government program designed to shore up the price of raisins by requiring farmers to hand over a certain percentage of the raisin crop to the government effected a categorical physical taking of personal property.

The limit on supply of raisins for sale was intended to increase the price farmers...

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California Supreme Court Upholds San Jose Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance Against a Takings Challenge

The California Supreme Court has upheld the inclusionary zoning ordinance of the City of San Jose against a challenge that it constitutes an illegal exaction and violates the state constitution's takings clause or the federal constitution's takings clause. Cal. Bldg. Indus. Ass'n v. City of San Jose, 2015 Cal. LEXIS 3905 (Cal. 2015). The ordinance required all new development projects containing 20 housing units or more to reserve 15 percent for sale at affordable prices to low- or moderate-income families. San Jose...

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