Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

HFH, Inc. v. Superior Court

Citation: 6 ELR 20062
No. No. L.A. 30382, 542 P.2d 237/15 Cal. 3d 508, (Cal., 11/12/1975)

The California Supreme Court, sitting en banc, rules that this landowners' complaint alleging that a municipal zoning action reduced the market value of their property by 80 percent fails to state a cause of action in inverse condemnation. Plaintiffs, hoping to build a shopping center, bought a vacant parcel of agriculturally zoned land, succeeded in having it rezoned commercial, and received municipal approval of a subdivision plan for commercial uses. During the next five years. however, they made no move to develop the property. Finally, the city, after temporarily reclassifying the land as agricultural, zoned it single family residential in response to plaintiffs' application for reinstatement of its earlier commercial designation. It is well settled that local zoning ordinances which diminish the value of privately owned land do not constitute a taking impermissible in absence of compensation, and plaintiffs' attempt to escape this principle by emphasizing that their suit sounds in inverse condemnation also runs squarely against judicial authority. Improper zoning actions may generally be attacked only by an action for mandamus, and since plaintiffs have failed to allege facts showing either a compensable taking or damaging of their land, a damage claim may not be added to their pending mandate action. In addition, policy considerations weigh against a holding that "fairness" requires inverse condemnation in this case. A dissent argues that the 80 percent decrease in market value which plaintiffs allege is compensable under the state constitution's provision that private property may be "damaged" for public use only after the owner has been paid just compensation, and that considerations of fairness dictate a holding that inverse condemnation lies in this instance.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
C. Edward Dilkes
Telanoff, Bobrowsky, Wallin & Dilkes
11340 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 145
Los Angeles, Cal. 90012

William J. Briney
Richard Laskin
Oliver, Stoever & Laskin
1000 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, Cal. 90012

Counsel for Defendant
Clerk of the Superior Court
Los Angeles County Superior Court
111 North Hill St.
Los Angeles, Cal. 90012

Counsel for City of Cerritos, Real Party in Interest
Ebben & Brown
615 South Flower, Suite 1201
Los Angeles, Cal. 90017

Counsel for Amici Curiae
Evelle J. Younger, Atty. General
Robert H. O'Brien, Asst. Atty. General
Nicholas C. Yost, Deputy Atty. General
E. Clement Shute, Jr., Deputy Atty. General
6000 State Building
San Francisco, Cal. 94102

Fred Caploe
Atkinson, Farasyn, Smith & Caploe
P.O. Box 279
Mountain View, Cal. 94042

Burt Pines, City Attorney
Claude H. Hilker, Asst. City Attorney
Sally Disco, Dep. City Attorney
Room 2100, City Hall
Los Angeles, Cal. 90012

Richard R. Hanna, Legal Counsel
Gary A. Owen, Assoc. Legal Counsel
Kenneth C. Rollston, Assoc. Legal Counsel
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
P.O. Box 8896
South Lake Tahoe, Cal. 95731

Carlyle W. Hall, Jr.
Timothy B. Flynn
A. Thomas Hunt
John R. Phillips
Brent N. Rushforth
Frederic P. Sutherland
Center for Law in the Public Interest
10203 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, Cal. 90067

Donald M. Pach
Pacific Legal Foundation
455 Capital Mall, Suite 465
Sacramento, Cal. 95814

Marvin G. Burns
Fulop, Rolston, Burns & McKittrick
9665 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverely Hills, Cal. 90212

James E. Erickson
John J. Murphy
Roger A. Brabel
Thomas P. Clark, Jr.
Rutan & Tucker
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, Cal. 92702

John H. Larson, Counsel
S. Robert Ambrose, Principal
William F. Stuart, Deputy County Counsel
648 Hall of Administration
Los Angeles, Cal. 90012

C. Alan Sumpton, Dep. City Attorney
City Administration Building
San Diego, Cal. 92102

Goldstein, Barceloux & Goldstein
The Hartford Building
33rd Floor
650 California Street
San Francisco, Cal. 94108

Gordon Pearce
C. Edward Gibson
Louis E. Goebel
Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps
110 West A Street, Suite 1700
San Diego, Cal. 92101

Gideon Kanner
Donald G. Wagman
P.O. Box 5133
Sherman Oaks, Cal. 91403

For himself; Wright, C.J.; McComb, Mosk, Sullivan & Richardson, JJ.