Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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Plaintiffs challenged the California Coastal Commission's permit condition, which requires a certain construction set back, for the remodel of their beachside residence. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of plaintiffs' petition for writ of administrative mandate, holding that substantial evidence supported the commission's determination that the remodel would have an adverse impact on the public's access to the beach. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies on their unconstitutional taking argument. View "Greene v. California Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Pennymac and others for wrongful foreclosure, alleging that the assignment of his mortgage to Pennymac was invalid. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's decision to sustain the defense demurrer because plaintiff failed to allege facts supporting his claim. In this case, plaintiff's complaint seemed to suggest that a borrower, by refusing to pay, can prevent a lender from assigning the debt. The court held that plaintiff failed to give a logical basis for this strange suggestion. Furthermore, plaintiff's remaining causes of action also failed. View "Myles v. Pennymac Loan Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The 86-acre Knights Valley parcel in rural Sonoma County is zoned “Land Extensive Agriculture,” which allows wineries and tasting rooms as conditional uses. The project is a two-story, 5,500-square-foot winery building with a 17,500-square-foot wine cave, wastewater treatment, water storage facilities, fire protection facilities, and mechanical areas, covering approximately 2.4 acres. The site contains two residences and 46 acres of vineyards. The nearby area is primarily vineyards. County staff reviewed reports considering impacts on geology, groundwater, wastewater, and biological resources, and concluded that, with recommended mitigation, the project would not have a significant effect on the environment. The county approved the use permit with conditions and adopted a mitigated negative declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code 21000) and a mitigation monitoring program. The court of appeal upheld the approval. Opponents did not provide evidence that the project is reasonably likely to cause landslides or otherwise generate environmentally harmful releases of debris; that erosion from the project, particularly runoff from the cave spoils, will cause significant effects on Bidwell Creek and degrade the habitat for salmonids; or that the project’s groundwater use will significantly affect salmonids, groundwater supply in neighboring wells, and fire suppression. There was no substantial evidence that the winery will have a significant aesthetic impact or that there is a reasonable possibility the project, as conditioned, will significantly increase the risk of wildfires. View "Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff argued that the Housing Authority abused its discretion in terminating her participation in the Section 8 Housing Program in the absence of any fraud, and that the Housing Authority did not have the discretion to terminate plaintiff's participation in the Program based on a misreport. The Court of Appeal held that the Housing Authority may not terminate a participant from the Program for an immaterial misreport, but that a false answer to a question about marital status did not fall within that category. The court affirmed the trial court's finding that plaintiff's false statements support her termination from the Program even in the absence of fraudulent intent, and affirmed the trial court's judgment finding that adequate grounds existed to terminate plaintiff from the Program. The court directed the trial court to remand the case to the Housing Authority to consider whether to exercise its discretion to take into account other circumstances in determining the appropriate remedy for plaintiff's violations. View "Crooks v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the judgment arising from Yolanda's Inc.'s action against its landlord. In this case, a shopping center lease contains a provision limiting the lessor's liability for breach of the lease to the lessor's interest in the shopping center. Yolanda's is the lessee and it obtained a judgment against its lessor, a limited partnership. The trial court denied Yolanda's motion to amend the judgment to add the general partner of the limited partner lessor as a judgment debtor. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that, by virtue of a foreclosure, the lease was assigned to the foreclosing lender; the assignment terminated the lessor's rights under the lease; and the termination of the lessor's rights also terminated the rights of the third party beneficiary general partner. View "Gietzen v. Covenant RE Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Andrijana Mackovska filed suit alleging that Viewcrest wrongfully removed their personal belongings and took possession of residential property Viewcrest had purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court held that plaintiff waived his right to a jury trial by failing to timely post jury fees. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the trial court erred in denying plaintiff's motion for relief from the jury trial waiver, because Viewcrest did not make a showing of prejudice; plaintiff's failure to file a petition for writ of mandate after the trial court denied his motion for relief from jury trial waiver did not preclude review of that order on appeal from the judgment; plaintiff did not have to show prejudice; and the trial court's order imposing sanctions must be vacated. View "Mackovksa v. Viewcrest Road Properties LLC" on Justia Law

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Tenants alleged that their former landlord, Lau, violated the owner move-in provisions of the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance when he instigated eviction procedures against them. Tenants were awarded more than $600,000 in damages. The trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict, finding no substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict. The court of appeal affirmed. The “good faith,” “without ulterior reason,” and “honest intent” requirements do not trigger a wide-ranging inquiry into the general conduct and motivations of an owner who seeks to recover possession of a unit. These terms serve a specific function: to determine whether the owner harbors a good-faith desire to occupy the apartment as his primary residence on a long-term basis. Lau was under no legal obligation to evict another instead of the Tenants and may not be barred from enjoying the benefits of an apartment he owns and wishes to occupy as his primary residence simply because it had rented more cheaply than another, noncomparable unit in his building. View "Reynolds v. Lau" on Justia Law

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After SCE filed suit for interference with easement and declaratory relief, defendant cross-complained, seeking damages for nuisance, trespass, and ejectment. The trial court found that SCE was granted floating easements over the property to access its electrical facilities; although the floating easements burdened the property at the time of creation, they did not become fixed easements until SCE and the property owners agreed on the access routes; at that point, SCE became the owner of an easement of reasonable width over each agreed-upon access route; and thus SCE was entitled to free access to those routes. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court properly determined that SCE owns easements over the agreed-upon access routes. The court also held that SCE did not forfeit its statute of limitations defense to the cross-claims. Furthermore, because the trial court's findings established that the alleged nuisance was permanent, defendant's challenge to the summary adjudication ruling was moot. View "Southern California Edison Co. v. Severns" on Justia Law

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Appellants Bryan and Jackie Myers appealed after the trial court refused to set aside a judgment settling a disagreement between neighbors. Their homes sit on adjacent lots that were once part of a single parcel which, when subdivided, did not account for a five-foot setback for a part of one home now owned by Appellants. The problematic property line has spawned a host of disputes between the neighbors involving encroaching tree roots and the placement of an air conditioning unit, fencing, and security cameras. The Machados sued Appellants in 2014. The operative complaint asserted causes of action for nuisance, trespass, harassment, and violation of the right to privacy, among others. In February 2016, the case settled during a settlement conference on the eve of trial. The settlement terms were recited on the record, in open court. The parties acknowledged agreement to all terms. Appellants contended the judgment did not conform to the terms of the parties' stipulated settlement, which was entered orally before the court. The Machados contended Appellants' failure to comply with the terms of the settlement relieved them of their obligation to perform certain provisions originally contemplated in the parties' settlement, and thus the entry of a judgment modifying the original settlement terms was justified. The Court of Appeal concluded the judgment entered pursuant to section 664.6 erroneously failed to conform to the terms of the parties' stipulated settlement agreement. Therefore, judgment was reversed and the trial court directed to enter a new judgment setting forth all the material terms of the parties' settlement agreement, as reflected in the record. View "Machado v. Myers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the new owners of the building in which they rented an apartment, alleging that the purported reason for their eviction was a pretext for the true motivation of increasing the rental value of the unit. The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs and the owners appealed. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the litigation privilege did not bar this action. The court rejected the owners' challenge to the relative move-in provisions of the Rent Ordinance as unconstitutionally vague, and held that there was substantial evidence demonstrating that the owners violated the Rent Ordinance. Finally, the court affirmed the damages award, rejecting the owners' claims that the award was not supported by substantial evidence and violated their substantive due process rights. View "DeLisi v. Lam" on Justia Law