Yesterday, we were able to attend the Ninth Circuit oral arguments in a case which we posted on last month, Rancho de Calistoga v. City of Calistoga, No. 12-17749.
In that case, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the complaint filed by the owner of a wine country mobile home park subject to a municipal rent control ordinance which alleged that the city's hearing officer did not allow a fair return. The court concluded that the complaint did not adequately plead the claims for relief under a regulatory takings, private takings, due process, or equal protection theory.
We filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association.
Much of the panel's time was spent questioning the park owner's counsel about whether the case was even ripe under Williamson County. Counsel responded that it would have been futile for the park owner to pursue compensation in state court, because the California Court of Appeal has recently concluded in a parallel case that no compensation is available. Watch the video or listen below for whether the court agreed.
The panel didn't have many questions for the city's counsel, and she did not use all of her allotted time. While we are loathe to predict the outcome based on oral arguments, the lack of questions posed to an appellee could be a sign that the panel is inclined to buy the city's arguments,
We obviously don't think that should be the result, as our amicus brief argued.
The Ninth Circuit's San Francisco courthouse is a wonderful building, full of grand details like the hallway below. Quite the "temple of justice."