Will Tahoe ruling have ripple effect? | TheUnion.com
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Will Tahoe ruling have ripple effect?

AP PhotoAmanda Rippee (left) and Hilary Archer crawl around the rocks in Lake Tahoe April 4, at Rock Point in Lake Tahoe, Nev. In a case involving property rights and protection of the lake in Tahoe, the Supreme Court refused on April 23 to expand Americans' property rights, reaffirming that the government can temporarily block building to protect the environment or prevent overdevelopment.
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A U.S. Supreme Court decision that temporary moratoriums on building aren’t a regulatory taking of property “did nothing to eviscerate the state of law with respect to takings cases,” said James Burling, principal attorney for the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation.

The 6-3 decision in the appeal of a ruling that stopped building around Lake Tahoe for 32 months is unfortunate, said Frank Vitello, executive director of Defenders of Property Rights in Washington, D.C.

Landowners filed suit, claiming that the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s moratorium constituted a taking without just compensation, a right guaranteed by the Constitution.



The agency declared that the lake suffered from runoff and other impacts of development and so building should stop for a while.

Vitello said the Supreme Court decision will be exploited by slow-growthers.




“You’ll have communities that have no intention of having development and will fall on this decision to not let anyone build, period,” he said. “You can pay taxes on your property, but tough luck, can’t use it.”

Citizens for Fair & Balanced Land-Use are sponsoring an initiative that would require compensation whenever Nevada County government action reduces the market value of property. The group is trying to qualify the measure for the November general election ballot.

The chance of such a measure passing in the county “depends on the job supporters do on educating voters,” Burling said.

The local initiative would create a liability mechanism outside of regulatory takings so the Tahoe decision should have no impact, he added.

After the Tahoe decision, voters may perceive that it’s more difficult to bring a regulatory takings claim, Burling said. “But (the decision) makes the need for a measure all the stronger,” he said.

Burling recalled one of Pacific Legal Foundation’s successes: Incline Village resident Bernadine Suitam sued the regional planning agency four years ago after she was denied a permit. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“She eventually came home with a fair chunk of change and a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court,” Burling said.


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