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 Mun. Code, §§ 5.08.010 to 5.08.730. The Court held that the municipal government had the power to enact reasonable land use regulations designed to increase the amount and dispersion of affordable housing and that this ordinance served those ends. Because it regulated land use, it did not constitute an "exaction" or forced donation of land to public use. The Court held that so long as a land use regulation does not deprive the owner of all economically viable use of the property or mandate a forced physical taking, there is no violation of the takings clause when restrictions govern an owner's use of property. The Court also interpreted the Supreme Court's requirements in the cases of Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994) & Nollan v. Cal. Coastal Comm'n, 483 U.S> 825 (1987), that mitigation fees must bear a reasonable relationship to externalities caused by the development of land did not apply when the law simply regulates the uses to which land can be put.