We're gearing up for a Supreme Court argument tomorrow, so don't have time at the moment to digest the entirety of today's opinion in Avenida San Juan P'ship v. City of San Clemente, No. G043479 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 14, 2011). But a quick glance tells us we're going to like it.
A California trial court concluded that the city's zoning a 2.85 acre parcel with a density of one house per 20 acres, while the surrounding properties are zoned at a density of four houses per acre was unconsitutional "spot zoning." The court issued a writ of mandate (remember, this is California) ordering the City to accept the property owner's application to develop four houses on the parcel.
The trial court also found a Penn Central taking and ordered the City to either comply with the writ or pay $1.3 million in just compensation for the inverse condemnation/regulatory taking.
The Court of Appeal affirmed:
We affirm the judgment so far as the trial court gave the City the choice of either complying with the writ of mandate or paying inverse condemnation damages. The City's refusal to lift the imposition of the RVL restriction on this particular parcel was arbitrary and capricious. As the trial court also found, applying the factors enumerated by Penn Central, that refusal to lift the RVL restrictions imposed specifically on this parcel constituted a taking. Further, this litigation was timely. This action is in substance an "as applied" challenge to the City's denial of requested changes to the City's land use scheme which otherwise works a peculiar hardship on the particular parcel at issue here, not a general attack on RVL zoning as such.
Slip op. at 2.
We'll have more after we have a chance to come up for air.