Court Rules That State Agency Illegally Extorted Property Rights.

A landowner bought a 400-acre farm containing a barn and single-family residence.  The residence was uninhabitable and the barn was in disrepair.  The buildings were approximately one mile from the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.  The landowner applied to the county for a permit to connect an existing well to the house and received an over-the-counter permit that authorized him to remove dry-rot and make deck and roof repairs.  County regulations exempted from permit requirements any repair and maintenance  activities that didn't result in any change to the approved land use.  The landowner made two additional work requests to permit applications that would allow him to replace an existing septic tank and "rehabilitate the existing residence."  The landowner began work on the structures consistent with the construction permits, but the county ordered him to stop until the county issued the necessary permits for the additional work.  The landowner died and a family trust became the owner of the property.  Two years after the initial application for the coastal development permit (CDP) from the county, the county approved the CDP but conditioned it on the trust dedicating a lateral easement for public access along the shorefront portion of the property because the house had not been habitable for several years and making it so would increase the intensity of the property's usage.  The trust did not appeal the county's determination.  But, on a later permit application, the trust requested the removal of the dedication of the lateral easement and the county agreed.  Environmental activist groups and like-minded coastal commissioners appealed to the defendant state agency and the defendant reversed the county's decision and conditioned the CDP on the granting of the lateral easement.  Upon judicial review, the court reversed the defendant's decision noting that the defendant abused its discretion and that even the defendant agreed that the exaction of the lateral easement did not comport with the "rough proportionality" test set forth in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1987) and Dollan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994).  The defendant argued that it did not create the easement condition because it was established by the county and the defendant simply refused to remove it, and that the owner's failure to appeal collaterally estopped the landowner from challenging the exaction.  The court refused to allow collateral estoppel to apply because doing so would result in an unjust result and would subvert the law.  The court also noted that the landowner never benefited from the CDP because no work was done under it.  Bowman v. California Coastal Commission, 230 Cal. App. 4th 1146, 179 Cal. Rptr. 3d 299 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014).  

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