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Weinberg v. Whatcom County

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20488
Nos. No. 98-36088, 241 F.3d 746/(9th Cir., 02/27/2001)

The court holds that a developer's right to procedural due process was violated when a county planning agency failed to provide a hearing to the developer before halting a previously approved land development project, but that a district court correctly granted the county's summary judgment motion as to the developer's negligence and state and federal takings claims. After buying property and receiving approval for three short plats, the developer began removing vegetation from and placing fill on his land. The county issued a stop work order and ultimately revoked approval of the developer's short plats. The developer brought suit in district court claiming state negligence, takings under the state and federal constitutions, and due process violations. The court first holds that because the developer failed to offer any evidence establishing the amount of damage he suffered, the district court properly granted the county's motion for summary judgment on the state negligence claims and the state and federal takings claims. The court next holds, however, that the district court erred in granting the county's motion for summary judgment for the proceduraldue process claims on the same grounds. Given the availability of nominal damages, the developer did not need to prove actual damages to have an actionable procedural due process claim. The court further holds that the district court erred in denying the developer summary judgment on his procedural due process claims. Because the developer possessed a cognizable property interest in his validly approved short plat, he should have been given a pre-deprivation hearing before the county revoked the plats. By vacating the plats without conducting a hearing, the county deprived the developer of economic interest in his land. The county also failed to provide the developer any alternative procedural safeguards.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Kurt Denke
Law Offices of Kurt Denke
3030 35th Ave. W., Seattle WA 98199
(206) 284-5949

Counsel for Defendants
Carol Morris
Kenyon Law Firm
11 Front St. S., Issaquah WA 98027
(425) 392-7090

Before Reavley* and Hall, JJ.