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Esplanade Properties, Ltd. Liab. Corp. v. Seattle, City of

Citation: 33 ELR 20056
No. No. 01-36112, 307 F.3d 978/(9th Cir., 10/03/2002)

The court affirms a district court holding that a city's denial of a company's application to develop shoreline property did not violate the company's state or federal due process rights and did not result in a taking. The court first holds that the company's federal due process claim was properly dismissed because federal substantive due process claims are precluded where the alleged violation is addressed by explicit textual provisions of the U.S. Constitution, specifically, the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause. The court also holds that the company's state due process claim fails because the Washington Constitution provides no greater substantive due process protection than that afforded by the U.S. Constitution. The court next holds that the city's denial of the company's application for development did not constitute a taking. Background principles of state law, namely, the public trust doctrine, would have precluded development of the proposed project. Here, the public trust doctrine unquestionably burdens the company's property. The doctrine reserves a public property interest in tidelands and the waters flowing over them, despite the sale of these lands into private ownership. The state cannot convey or give away this interest. Instead, it may only divest itself of interests in the state's waters in a manner that does not substantially impair the public interest. Thus, the company's claimed property right never existed, and no taking occurred.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Larry Smith
Graham & Dunn
1420 5th Ave., Seattle WA 98101
(206) 624-8300

Counsel for Defendant
Judith Barbour
City Attorney