Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

by
Developers submitted an application for a Berkeley mixed-use development with 135 apartments over 33,000 square feet of retail space and parking, pursuant to Government Code section 65913.4, which provides for streamlined, ministerial approval of affordable housing projects meeting specified requirements. The site is the location of the West Berkeley Shellmound, “believed to have been one of the first of its kind at the Bay’s edge, built ca 3,700 B.C.,” part of a City of Berkeley Landmark. Shellmounds were “sacred burial sites for the average deceased mound-dweller,” slowly constructed over thousands of years from daily debris and artifacts. The city denied the application.The court of appeal ruled in favor of the developers. There is no evidence that the project “would require the demolition of a historic structure that was placed on a . . . historic register.” Remnants and artifacts could be disturbed, but that is not the issue under section 65913.4(a)(7)(C). With regard to tribal cultural resources, the project’s draft environmental impact report concluded impacts on the Shellmound would be reduced to “a less-than-significant level” by agreed-upon mitigation measures. Given the Legislature’s history of attempting to address the state’s housing crisis and frustration with local governments’ interference with that goal, and the highly subjective nature of historical preservation, the intrusion of section 65913.4 into local authority is not broader than necessary to achieve the legislation's purpose. View "Ruegg & Ellsworth v. City of Berkeley" on Justia Law

by
Karen and Jerome Schirado appealed a judgment granting the City of Glen Ullin and the Glen Ullin Park District permanent injunctive relief and awarding the Park District attorney’s fees. The Schirados owned land near both Park District and City property. In 2013, the Park District sued the Schirados to enjoin them from fencing and allowing their horses to graze on Park District lots. The Park District was granted default judgment. In 2019, the Park District and the City sued again, alleging the Schirados violated the 2013 judgment. The suit contained claims similar to the 2013 suit, with additional claims involving the City’s streets and alleys which were not involved in the original action. The Schirados conceded they placed fencing on the properties and allowed their horses to graze, but alleged they were given permission by the City. The district court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the City and the Park District. The court found the Schirados in contempt of court because of their violation of the 2013 judgment, and awarded attorney’s fees and costs to the City and the Park District. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the judgment in favor of the City, and reversed and remanded the fee award for the district court to explain its rationale for the award, including which amount is a sanction for contempt, and which portion is allocated to each plaintiff. On remand, the Schirados moved a new trial, claiming Karen Schirado possessed additional testimony and evidence “necessary to allow her to fully present her case.” The district court denied the motion for trial and concluded the Schirados had two opportunities to present evidence of an oral or written agreement to use the City property and failed to do so. The court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment, concluding the Schirados failed to present admissible evidence in resistance to the City and Park District’s motion for summary judgment. The court also granted the City and the Park District permanent injunctive relief and awarded the Park District $5,460.00 in attorney’s fees. The Schirados appeal from the amended judgment. Finding no reversible error in the amendment judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Glen Ullin, et al. v. Schirado, et al." on Justia Law

by
In this dispute over a party wall agreement between adjoining property owners the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment to all three defendants on Plaintiff's breach of the party wall agreement claim and summary judgment for two defendants on Plaintiff's negligence claim, holding that the circuit court did not err.Plaintiff owned a commercial building that shared a party wall with the adjacent property. Zen's Development, Uptown Properties, and Kenneth McBride, were the current or previous owners of the adjacent property. The circuit court granted summary judgment to all defendants on the breach of the party wall agreement claim and summary judgment to Uptown and McBride on the negligence claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on her claims of error. View "Birchfield v. Zen's Development, LLC" on Justia Law

by
After a trial before a three-member land commission, the district court awarded compensation to Landowners after the government took an easement on their land. The district court awarded Landowners $4.4 million, apportioned attorney's fees and litigation costs, and split the cost of the commission.The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's award of just compensation and the splitting of the commission costs. The court concluded that the district court was within its discretion to weigh the evidence and to determine that the Landowners had shown a non-speculative demand for industrial and residential development in the reasonably near future. Therefore, the court could not say that the district court clearly erred in calculating its award of just compensation. The court also concluded that the district court has broad discretion in apportioning commission costs, and upheld its decision to do so. However, the court concluded that identifying the "prevailing party" for purposes of the attorney's fee award is a legal question that the court reviewed de novo. The court found that the district court erred in making that determination, concluding that because the government's $937,800 value is closer to the district court's final award of $4.4 million, the government, not the Landowners, is the "prevailing party" in this litigation. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "United States v. 269 Acres Located in Beaufort County" on Justia Law

by
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA) does not require landlords to accommodate the disability of an individual who neither entered into a lease nor paid rent in exchange for the right to occupy the premises.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City, in an action brought by plaintiff against the City for wrongful eviction based on several theories of state law implied tenancy. The panel held that the FHAA applies to rentals only when the landlord or his designee has received consideration in exchange for granting the right to occupy the premises. As to occupants requesting accommodation, the panel held that the FHAA's disability discrimination provisions apply only to cases involving a "sale" or "rental" for which the landlord accepted consideration in exchange for granting the right to occupy the premises. Applying a federal standard rather than California landlord-tenant law, the panel concluded that because plaintiff never provided consideration in exchange for the right to occupy Spot 57, the FHAA was inapplicable to his claim for relief. Furthermore, the City was not obligated to provide, offer, or discuss an accommodation. View "Salisbury v. City of Santa Monica" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming in part and reversing in part an order of the trial court concluding that two purchasers, the first of whom bought a tract of property at a nonjudicial foreclosure sale, and the second of whom bought a property tract from the initial purchaser, were not good faith purchasers for value, holding that the trial court abused its discretion.When the property owners' brought a motion for relief from the foreclosure order, the trial court determined that it lacked jurisdiction over one of the property owners due to insufficient notice and deficient service of process, and therefore, the transfers to both subsequent purchasers should be declared null and void. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred by determining that the two purchasers were not good faith purchasers for value entitled to the protections available pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-108. View "In re George" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the orders of the trial courts in these three cases brought by downstream property owners asserting that the San Jacinto River Authority's release of water from its Lake Conroe reservoir into the San Jacinto River caused or contributed to the flooding of their properties, holding that the trial court did not err by denying the River Authority's motions to dismiss the three suits.Plaintiffs asserted both common-law inverse condemnation claims under Tex. Const. art. I, 17 and statutory takings claims under Chapter 2007 of the Government Code. The River Authority moved to dismiss the three suits, arguing that Chapter 2007 applied strictly to regulatory takings and not physical takings, as Plaintiffs contended. The trial court denied the motions to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that Chapter 2007's statutory takings claim included the physical takings claim alleged in the property owners' pleadings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statutory takings claim may include a physical taking and is not limited solely to regulatory takings. View "San Jacinto River Authority v. Argento" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Defendants in this trespass to try title suit, holding that the trial court properly granted summary judgment for Defendants.Plaintiff and Defendants were lessees of adjacent mineral estates. Plaintiff brought this suit alleging that Defendants drilled several wells either on Plaintiff's leasehold or closer to the lease line that allowed by Railroad Commission rules. Defendants claimed that Plaintiff ratified the boundary line through a boundary stipulation between the fee owners of the two mineral estates and Plaintiff's written acceptance of the stipulation, thus foreclosing the trespass claims. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the boundary stipulation was void and therefore could not be ratified. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the boundary stipulation was valid; and (2) Defendants conclusively established their ratification defense. View "Concho Resources, Inc. v. Ellison" on Justia Law

by
In this quiet title action for adverse possession of a small parcel of land adjacent to parcel on which Lillie Brown's home stood, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Brown's motion for summary judgment and finding that she had adversely possessed the parcel of land at issue, holding that the district court did not err.After learning that she did not own the parcel at issue, Brown filed her motion to quiet title. The district court granted summary judgment for Brown and quieted title in her favor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in its evidentiary rulings and properly granted summary judgment in favor of Brown. View "Brown v. Morello" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the district court striking Plaintiff's resistance to a motion for summary judgment and vacated the resulting summary judgment and bench trial judgment, holding that the district court abused its discretion by striking the entire resistance filing without any showing of prejudice or violation of a prior court order.On the last day of an extended deadline Plaintiff filed his resistance and supporting papers. The next day, the clerk of court rejected Plaintiff's filing because of the failure to redact Plaintiff's social security number. The district court granted Defendants' motion to strike the filing as untimely and noncompliant and subsequently granted summary judgment dismissing Plaintiffs' claims. A different judgment ultimately entered judgment for Defendants on their counterclaims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion by granting Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiff's resistance filings. View "Toney v. Parker" on Justia Law