Friday, February 10, 2012

1st Eng. Evangelical Lutheran Church v Los Angeles County case brief

1st Eng. Evangelical Lutheran Church v Los Angeles County
482 U S 304  [1987]

FACTS
-P purchased land, operated a campground, known as "Lutherglen.” 
-The land is located in a canyon along the banks of a creek that is the natural drainage channel for a watershed area, adjoined by a National Forest. 
-In 1978, a flood destroyed Lutherglen's buildings. In response to the flood, appellee LA County, in 1979, adopted an interim ordinance prohibiting construction or reconstruction of any building/structure in an interim flood protection area that included the land on which Lutherglen had stood. 

ISSUE
Does the Just Compensation Clause require the Govt to pay for “temporary,” regulatory takings of private property? 

HOLDING
Yes

PROCEDURE
P sought reverse condemnation and tort damages from county, D moved to strike, Super Ct struck the complaint; CA appeals court Affirmed; CA Supreme Ct. denied review; Supreme Court Reversed and Remanded

RULES
-Private property be taken for public use without just compensation.  (Just Compensation Clause)

APPLICATION
“Results in an alteration in the property interest taken- from one of full ownership to one of temporary use and occupation . .” require that “compensation would be measured by the principles normally governing the taking of a right to use property temporarily.”  
-Temporary compensation is required for the Govt’s interference w/ the use of the property.  
-Where the burden on the property owner in extinguishing a leasehold interest for a period of years results from govt action amting to a taking, the Just Compensation clause requires that the govt pay the landowner for the value of the use during that period. “It is the owner’s loss, not the taker’s gain, which is the measure of the value.”
-Where the govt’s activities have already worked a taking of all use of property, no subsequent action by the govt can relieve it of the duty to provide compensation for the period during the taking was effective.  -Invalidation of the ordinance without fair compensation for the value of the use during the period would be constitutionally insufficient.
Plaintiff’s Argument: From 1978 until 1985 the ordinance effectively denied the Pl’s use of their property without compensation.

DISSENT
-If the sovereign chooses not to retain the regulation, repeal will, in virtually all cases, mitigate the overall effect of the regulation so substantially that the slight diminution in value cannot be classified as a taking of the property. 
-Regulatory takings and physical takings are very different.  A regulatory program that adversely affects property values does not constitute a taking unless it destroys a major portion of the property’s value.  Only the most extreme regulations can constitute takings.

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