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Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Reg'l Planning Agency

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20638
Nos. Nos. 99-15641, -15771, 216 F.3d 764/50 ERC 1751/(9th Cir., 06/15/2000) aff'd

The court upholds a district court decision dismissing landowners' takings claims against the Lake Tahoe Basin regional planning agency based on a temporary development moratorium issued by the agency. The court first holds that it will not conceptually sever each landowner's fee interest into discrete temporal segments and treat each segment as a separate and distinct property interest for the purpose of takings analysis. To not reject the concept of temporal severance, the court would risk converting every temporary planning moratorium into a categorical taking. The court next holds that the agency did not effect a categorical taking of the landowners' property. The temporary moratorium imposed by the agency did not deprive the landowners of all value or use of their property. The temporary moratorium was designed to suspend development only until a new regional land use plan could be formulated. Moreover, there is no evidence that owners or purchasers of property anticipated that the temporary moratorium would continue indefinitely. Further, the temporary moratorium deprived the landowners of a small portion of the future use of their property, but not of all use of their property. The court additionally holds that the agency cannot be held liable under 42 U.S.C. §1983 during the time in which its final land use plan was enjoined from being enforced under a court order. The agency's actions were not the legal cause of any taking during that time because the injunction prohibited taking any action to approve any project and prohibited the agency from accepting permit applications. Similarly, the agency's adoption of the plan did not effectuate a taking by causing the injunction to issue. The court further holds that the district court properly held on the merits that the landowners' §1983 claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Although the court had previously held that the claims were not barred by the statute of limitations, the district court did not violate the law-of-the-case doctrine because that holding was clearly erroneous and would be manifestly unjust if enforced.

[Prior decisions in this litigation are published at 17 ELR 20584 and 29 ELR 21290.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Lawrence L. Hoffman
Law Offices of Lawrence L. Hoffman
3000 N. Lake Blvd., Ste. 1, Tahoe City CA 96145
(530) 583-8542

Counsel for Defendants
J. Thomas Susich
Crowell, Susich, Owen & Tackes
510 W. 4th St., Carson City NV 89703
(775) 882-1311

Before Politz,* and Hawkins, JJ.