The Uniform Relocation Act Does Not Provide a Private Right of Action to Property Owners


On March 7th, a U.S. District Court sided with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on whether the Uniform Relocation Act (URA) provides private property owners with a private right of action: it does not.  The Pacific Shores Property Owners Association sued the FAA over improvements the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority is required to make to a regional airport, Del Norte County Regional Airport, also known as Jack McNamera Field.  To meet the FAA's runway safety standards, the Authority had to close roads and acquire nearby lots to make up for the wetlands lost as a result of the improvements.  Congress had previously allocated federal funds to assist local airports with the required improvements. 

Pacific Shores wanted the FAA to "administer and monitor" the Authority and its use of the federal funds pursuant to section 4655 of the URA.  However, the FAA argued, and the court agreed, that the FAA's only responsibility under that provision is to receive satisfactory assurances from the acquiring agency that the agency will be guided by the land acquisition policies in the URA.  The URA does not provide a private right of action or remedy by which property owners can hold the FAA liable for not receiving satisfactory assurances.  The court goes on to say that even if there was some violation of a federal statute, it does not automatically give that person a private cause of action.

The Court dismissed three of Pacific Shores' causes of action for inverse condemnation, CEQA violations and violations of the California Constitution saying it did not have jurisdiction over those causes of action and that they can be filed again in state court.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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