In a concise December 7, 2020 opinion, Hotop v. City of San Jose, __ F.3d __ (2020) (Case No. 18-16995), a 3-0 panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of an action alleging that portions of San Jose’s “Apartment Rent Ordinance” violated the Fourth, Fifth, Fourteenth, and Contracts Clause rights of individual apartment owners and an unincorporated trade association of San Jose landlords. The challenged regulations require landlords to disclose information about rent stabilized units to the City and condition landlords’ ability to increase rents on providing that information. In essence, the regulations limit rent increases on approximately 38,000 apartments in San Jose. Although the regulations have existed in various forms since 1979, San Jose remains one of the least affordable communities in the United States.
On November 13, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order granting certiorari in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid. The question presented in the successful cert petition is “whether the uncompensated appropriation of an easement that is limited in time effects a per se physical taking under the Fifth Amendment.”
On November 5, 2020, in AMCAL Chico LLC v. Chico Unified School District, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. C087700), a case involving the Chico Unified School District’s imposition of school impact fees on a dormitory complex to house unmarried Chico State University students, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court decision rejecting a developer’s suit seeking a refund of the fees.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has federal appellate jurisdiction over a major portion of the western U.S., has something of a reputation as the most overturned federal appeals court circuit. While the truth of that is a mixed bag, an October 13, 2020 order in an important property rights case looks to be a worthy candidate for both a petition for writ of certiorari, a grant of cert by the U.S. Supreme Court, and maybe more.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett was nominated, for a reason, to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice. As other commenters have noted, a Justice Barrett is expected to move the Court to the right on a wide range of issues, including health care, gun control, and abortion. But what is far less clear at this point is how a Justice Barrett would influence or alter the Court’s property rights jurisprudence.
The Third District Court of Appeal published an important new case on September 16, 2020—Parkford Owners for a Better Community v. County of Placer, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. C087824)—holding that a project opponent’s challenge to the expansion of a development project was moot given that construction was nearly complete. The case distinguishes other leading cases addressing “mootness” in the land use and CEQA context and provides important insights for those involved in the development process.
On August 17, 2020, in Martis Camp Community Association v. County of Placer, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case Nos. C087759 and C087778), the Third District Court of Appeal addressed several novel legal claims arising from the County of Placer’s partial abandonment of public easement rights in a road connecting two adjacent residential subdivisions near Lake Tahoe.
On August 5, 2020, in Granny Purps, Inc. v. County of Santa Cruz, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. H045387), the Sixth District Court of Appeal addressed several novel property rights issues related to a law enforcement action in the County of Santa Cruz in which officers seized more than 2,000 marijuana plants from a medical marijuana dispensary for violating a local ordinance restricting marijuana cultivation to no more than 99 plants.
California’s statues of limitations in land use cases are notoriously short and harsh and don’t often result in outcomes favorable to aggrieved applicants. Exceptions such as Honchariw v. County of Stanislaus, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. F077815) (i.e., Honchariw IV), are thus notable and worth remembering.
Every once in a while a case comes along that calls to mind the adage that “just because you can think it doesn’t mean you should say it.” The Second District Court of Appeal’s July 30, 2020 eminent domain decision in Rutgard v. City of Los Angeles, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2020) (Case No. B297655) is one of those cases.