Zoning, Planning & Land Use Civil Procedure Constitutional Law

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Court of Appeal Upholds Anti-SLAPP Motion to Defeat Claims Against Government Agencies

Ruling Allows Government Agencies to Use the Motion to Quickly End Meritless and Vexatious Lawsuits - A government agency can employ an anti-SLAPP motion to win early termination of meritless and vexatious lawsuits...more

California Supreme Court Grants Review of Coastal Act Decision with Takings Implications

In September 2014, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District issued a surprising decision, finding that even if an applicant maintains that it is accepting imposed permit conditions “under protest” and expressly...more

California Supreme Court to Review Denial of Homeowner’s Private Beach Access

In the case of Lynch v. California Coastal Commission (D064120; Cal.App.4th 658; San Diego Superior Court; 37-2011-00058666-CU-WM-NC), the California Supreme Court has granted a petition for review of the decision by the...more

Utah Prairie Dog Could Narrow Endangered Species Act

A Utah federal court has created the potential for a constitutional showdown that could result in a significant narrowing of the Endangered Species Act and further limiting Congress’ power to legislate. In an unprecedented...more

Mosque Sues Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania Over Denial

The Bensalem Masjid Inc. (“Masjid”) has sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”) and the Township’s Zoning Hearing Board (“Board”) for denying approval to construct a mosque. Nine months after the application was...more

City SLAPPs Away Landlord's Section 1983 Claim

Anti-SLAPP motions provide defendants with a valuable tool to dispose of meritless cases that stifle protected speech . In Squires v. City of Eureka (October 17, 2014, A138768; A139849) ___Cal. App.4th___ [14 Cal. Daily Op....more

What’s a “Similarly Situated” Comparator under RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision? Florida Federal Court Explains in Finding Against...

Few courts have identified what it means to be a “similarly situated” comparator under RLUIPA’s equal terms provision. Recently, in Church of Our Savior v. City of Jacksonville, (M.D. FL 2014), a federal court in Florida...more

Federal Court Enters Injunctive Order Against Bayview, Texas in RLUIPA Suit Filed by Church

We previously reported on the case Cornerstone Church by the Bay v. Town of Bayview, Texas, in which the Church and the Laguna Madre Christian Academy are suing the Town (population approx. 400) under the Religious Land Use &...more

Sale of Property for Secular Use Does Not Constitute “Religious Exercise”

The Northern District of California recently dismissed RLUIPA claims filed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (the “Conference”) against the City of San Francisco. The case revolves around the...more

Opponents of Arena Project Foul Out

On November 20, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal (Court) handed a partial victory to the City of Sacramento (City), rejecting petitioners' appeal and thereby authorizing the continued construction of the Sacramento...more

Pa. Gas Utility May Use Eminent Domain to Supply Private Power Plant

A Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, judge recently authorized a natural gas public utility to use its eminent domain power in condemning easements for the construction and maintenance of a pipeline to supply gas to a private...more

Virginia Federal Court Clarifies RLUIPA Standing Requirements & Dismisses Substantial Burden Claim

In an important decision, the court in Aldon, LLC v. City of Newport News, Virginia (E.D. Va. Nov. 20, 2014), clarified the standing requirements under RLUIPA. Few courts have addressed RLUIPA’s standing requirements. The...more

Real Estate and Land Use - November 2014

Change of Heart – Court of Appeal Reverses Opinion in Bowman v. California Coastal Commission - Why it matters: The court in Bowman originally held that a permit condition could not be modified or deleted by a second...more

New RLUIPA Suit: Mount Zion Church of God in Christ v. City of Garden City, Kansas

Garden City, Kansas is being sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the U.S. Constitution, and state law over allegations that it has discriminated against a local church, Mount Zion...more

Utah Federal Court Strikes Down as Unconstitutional a Regulation Under the Endangered Species Act Protecting Utah Prairie Dogs on...

The Utah Prairie Dog is a species that exists only in Utah, where it lives on both federal and private land. The species is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, and a federal regulation...more

District Court Strikes Down Regulation of Purely Intrastate Species on Private Land

In a significant Endangered Species Act case, the Utah District Court has ruled that Congress may not regulate take of the threatened Utah prairie dog, a purely intrastate species, on non-federal land. The court found that...more

The Limits of CEQA Mitigation – Recent Judicial Applications of Nollan and Dolan

Perhaps foremost among the judicially recognized fundamental constraints on lead agencies’ power to impose various types of mitigation measures on project approvals in the CEQA process is the “doctrine of unconstitutional...more

Court Finds Endangered Species Act Cannot Regulate Species on Private Lands Within a Single State

In a win for property owners and project proponents, a Utah federal district court has ruled that the United States Constitution does not authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) to regulate impacts to the Utah...more

Court of Appeal Finds: Environmental and Natural Resources Existing Flood Danger Was Not An Impact Of Proposed Dam Upgrade...

In Paulek v. California Dept. of Water Resources (2014) (October 31, 2014, E060038) __ Cal.App.4th __, the Court of Appeal upheld the final environmental impact report (“EIR”) prepared by the California Department of Water...more

Utah Court Bucks the Trend: Holds Congress Lacks Power to Regulate Intrastate Species on Private Land

Contrary to every federal court of appeal decision that has addressed the issue, a federal court in Utah has held that the broad authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to regulate "take" of threatened...more

Utah Federal Judge: ESA Rule Is Unconstitutional

In a ruling that, if upheld and followed, would significantly limit the reach of federal environmental regulation, a Utah federal judge determined that regulation of a purely intrastate species listed as threatened under the...more

Do Takes of the Utah Prairie Dog Affect Interstate Commerce? Only When McDonalds Starts Serving Prairie Burgers

Earlier this week, in a suit brought by the beautifully named People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, Judge Dee Benson ruled that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service could not regulate takes of the Utah...more

Court Holds Congress Lacks Power to Regulate Take of Intrastate Species that Has No Substantial Effect on Commerce

On November 4th, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah invalidated the special rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) regulating take of the threatened Utah prairie dog, a species that only...more

Fourth District Addresses CEQA Issues Concerning Standing, Mitigation, Baseline, Piecemealing, And Responses To Comments In...

In a published decision filed October 31, 2014 (Paulek v. California Department of Water Resources (4th Dist., Div. 2, 2014) ___ Cal.App.4th ____, Case No. E060038), the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Riverside...more

Coastal Commission’s Public Access Easement Found to Be A Taking

In a published decision, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District rejected the California Coastal Commission’s (“Commission”) finding that there is no rational nexus or rough proportionality between...more

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