Civil Procedure Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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Court rejects contractor’s mechanic’s lien because of ‘intent’

The Illinois Court of Appeals’ recent decision in AUI Construction Group, LLC v. Vaessen highlights the need for careful planning in structuring development agreements, construction contracts, and the use of an easement as...more

Environmental Groups Sue Federal Agencies Again in Unending Legal Battle Over Offshore Oil Development

On November 11, 2016, the Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper jointly filed suit against several federal agencies including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and...more

No Prescriptive Easement Over Registered Beach Lots That Expanded By Accretion

In an important decision for owners of waterfront property, a divided Appeals Court panel has ruled in a case of first impression that where registered land expands by accretion, the owner need not return to court to...more

Gavel to Gavel: Shifting water courses may affect property rights

As anyone who has spent significant time near a western Oklahoma river is likely aware, our water courses tend to be shallow, with beds composed of loose, sandy soil. These characteristics make western Oklahoma rivers...more

Appellate Court Rejected EIR That Found Insignificant Traffic Impacts, Despite Consistency With Infill-Promoting General Plan...

The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Third Appellate District, overturned an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The appellate court rejected the EIR's...more

Subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration Reviewed Under Substantial Evidence Test

Coastal Hills Rural Preservation v. County of Sonoma et al. (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 1234 - Why It Matters: The California Court of Appeal applied the substantial evidence standard of review and not the fair argument...more

Kelo Gives a Reasonable and Long-Accepted Reading of the Fifth Amendment, but it Remains one of the Supreme Court’s Worst...

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), that the Constitution allows the government to take private property through eminent domain for the purpose of “economic...more

Evaluating a Project’s “Exacerbation” on Existing Environmental Hazards

Substantial Evidence Proving “Exacerbation” Required, California Appellate Court Says - A significant decision interpreting the scope of the California Supreme Court’s ruling in California Building Industry Association...more

Court Rules that California Coastal Commission Staff Members who Participate in Enforcement Proceedings Before the Agency May Also...

California’s courts have frequently addressed a party’s due process rights to a fair and impartial decision maker in quasi-judicial proceedings, holding that during such proceedings there must be separation of prosecutorial...more

Politics and Impartiality = Oil and Water

Sometimes, the simplest, local example teaches the deepest, global lesson – politics and impartiality do not mix. Under the blanketing fog of politics and internet delivered news, it’s easy to become confused and actually...more

North Carolina Federal Court Gives Go Ahead for Shooting Range on Public Land

The U. S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina recently upheld approval by the U.S. Forest Service (“USFS”) of a recreational shooting range in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest. The case is...more

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Issues Regulatory Guidance Letter on Approved Jurisdictional Determinations

Seyfarth Synopsis: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has just issued a Regulatory Guidance Letter which provides to property owners (including developers) the right of appeal USACE Approved Jurisdictional...more

9th Circuit Upholds Lake Tahoe Regional Development Plan Update

Affirming the district court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected claims that the environmental impact statement (EIS) adopted by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency supporting the Regional Plan Update...more

Key Real Estate Ruling from South Carolina Supreme Court

Justices Rule on Prescriptive Easements - 2016 Case Notes: Real Estate- Introduction - The South Carolina Supreme Court clarified the law of prescriptive easements in its decision in Simmons v. Berkeley Elec....more

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood… and I took the Smooth, Safe Path

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken is a great American poem about choices. In the poem, the fork where the two roads diverge provides no indication which path is the better path to travel. In life and law, sometimes the...more

Court Upholds City’s Communities Facilities District and Related Special Tax

The question of who should pay the cost of municipal services for new residential development is a vexing question. The answer is critically important to the developers and homebuilders who must finance and market their...more

Wolverine Status Review Reinitiated

The distinct population segment of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulf luscus) has had a long and difficult history with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, things appeared to be changing in 2013, when, after...more

Supreme Court Allows Early Challenges to Wetlands Jurisdictional Determinations

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a property owner can go to court to challenge a determination by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) that part of the property is “waters of the U.S.” or connected wetlands and therefore...more

Quicksands and Cutting Edges of the Law: Do Municipal Utility Customers possess Due Process and Vested Rights to Continued...

Sometimes, I read a court’s opinion and put it aside because it is thought provoking beyond its facts and outcome. The case of United States Cold Storage, Inc. v. Town of Warsaw, __ N.C. App. ___, 784 S.E. 2d 575 (April 5,...more

Landmarking designation is alleged to violate RLUIPA

A brewing dispute in Yonkers, NY has led the Islamic Community Center for Mid Westchester (ICCMW) to allege that Yonkers violated ICCMW’s rights under RLUIPA, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States...more

Gubernatorial Action that has Land Use Consequences is not a an Illegal Exercise of Legislative Power

On October 13, 2016, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District affirmed a trial court’s decision to grant a demurrer filed on behalf of Governor Jerry Brown following his concurrence with the Secretary of the...more

U.S. Supreme Court Denies U.S. Forest Service’s Petition for Review in Canadian Lynx Case

On October 11, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the U.S. Forest Service’s (“Forest Service”) petition for writ of certiorari to review the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Cottonwood Environmental...more

Virginia Supreme Court Opinion Affecting Local Government Law: September 22, 2016

The Virginia Supreme Court issued one additional opinion in September affecting local government law, on September 22, 2016. This opinion addressed the priority to be given a local government special assessment lien over a...more

N.C. Court of Appeals Affirms Local Government Board's Recusal of One of Its Own Members In Quasi-Judicial Proceeding

A quasi-judicial land use proceeding requires an impartial decisionmaker, like any courtroom proceeding. State law does its best to spell out what constitutes an "impermissible violation[] of due process"...more

New Opinion Clarifies Takings Law Regarding Affordable Housing Programs

Last year, my partner Ben Rubin reported on the California Supreme Court’s decision in California Building Industry Association v. City of San Jose, which analyzed an inclusionary housing ordinance and held that such...more

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