The California Supreme Court has accepted a takings case that threatens the viability of San Francisco's Hotel Conversion Ordinance.
The court has decided to hear San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco, C.A. 1st Div. 5, No. A083530 (see CP&DR Legal Digest, September 2000, October 2000).
In an opinion published in two portions, the First District Court of Appeal ruled that the "heightened scrutiny" test applied to the hotel conversion ordinance, meaning there must be a close relationship between the exaction and the project's impact. The court ruled that a lawsuit filed by owners of the San Remo Hotel should proceed in trial court.
The hotel owners had argued that the city's ordinance violated state and federal constitutional provisions against taking private property without just compensation. The City's law bars the conversion of residential hotels to tourist use unless the hotel owner replaces the converted units with new affordable housing or pays a substantial mitigation fee.
Both sides agreed that imposition of the Nollan/Dolan "heightened scrutiny" test could mean the end of the hotel conversion ordinance. The city would have to provide an "essential nexus" between the permit conditions and the impact of the proposed hotel conversion, as well as a "rough proportionality" between the exaction and the project's impact. Property rights advocates say such a standard is required to prohibit uncompensated takings; the city argues that land-use laws of general applicability need not meet the standard.
The Fifth District also remanded to the trial court the factual issue of whether the San Remo was a nonconforming use. If the hotel were a legal nonconforming tourist hotel prior to passage of the hotel conversion ordinance, a $567,000 mitigation fee that the city has tried to impose would seemingly not apply. The Fifth District made clear it thought the San Remo was a tourist hotel at all times and there was no "conversion" involved.
Five of seven state Supreme Court justices voted to hear the case. No date for oral arguments has been set.
A divided California Supreme Court has upheld a state law that allows religious institutions to exempt themselves from historic preservation ordinances. In a 4-3 ruling, the court found that the exemption — which applies only to noncommercial property owned by religious institutions — violated neither the First Amendment's free exercise clause, nor the state constitution's establishment clause.
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A Los Angeles County judge has invalidated an Orange County ballot initiative intended to block an airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps base. Superior Court Judge James Otero ruled that Measure F, which voters approved 2-1 in March 2000, was "fundamentally flawed and in violation of the constitution and laws of this state."
Measure F required two-thirds voter approval for construction or expansion of airports, hazardous waste facilities or jails. Otero held that such a requirement "greatly impair...
The state Supreme Court has sided with builders in a case regarding construction defect liability. In a 5-2 decision, the court held that homeowners cannot sue for economic losses in cases where no property damage or personal injury has occurred.
The ruling was a definite victory for the development industry. Builders for years have complained about the burden of construction defect liability, and they have blamed negligence lawsuits for their inability to construct condominiums and townhous...
A 2-2 vote on an environmental impact report is not enough to certify the document, the Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled. The California Environmental Quality Act requires that the elected body make an affirmative decision on environmental documents, the court held.
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A lawsuit that has already reached the state Supreme Court is again making its way up the legal ladder. In mid-December, San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Bob McNatt upheld the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission's approval of the Califia project (formerly called Gold Rush City) in the City of Lathrop.
Last year, the state Supreme Court allowed the case to go forward after McNatt and the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that project opponents did not exhaust their administrative re...
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Claims that Sacramento County violated the California Environmental Quality Act while approving a commercial development have been dismissed by the Third District Court of Appeal because the project opponent did not submit a written request for a hearing within 90 days of filing a lawsuit.
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A state appellate court has upheld the California Coastal Commission's denial of a development permit for a small mixed-use project in Morro Bay.
The court rejected developer Dan Reddell's arguments that the commission violated his due process and equal protection rights, and that its decision was a regulatory taking of property. Instead, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that substantial evidence supported the commission's finding that Reddell's project was inconsistent with Morro Bay's local coastal plan (LCP).
A state appellate court has thrown out an Inyo County general plan amendment that the county argued was nothing more than a clarification of a longstanding policy.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two, concluded that the amendment was more than a mere clarification and that the county should have completed an environmental impact report before approving the amendment.
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