Alan Fenstermacher, a partner with Rutan & Tucker, LLP, recently scored a crucial victory in a federal takings case involving property in the central coast village of Cambria, in Windeler, et al. v. Cambria Community Services District, et al., 2022 WL 4079259 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 6, 2022).
This case, filed by owners of vacant property against Rutan’s client Cambria Community Services District (as well as the separately represented County of San Luis Obispo), arises out of a moratorium on new water service in Cambria, the result of extremely limited water resources in the area and other environmental and regulatory challenges. Cambria property owners have previously filed inverse condemnation cases in state court, but this is case is the first federal case (and first case to proceed to trial) as result of federal takings claims under the Fifth Amendment becoming more viable following the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Knick v. Township of Scott, 139 S. Ct. 2162 (2019).
Following a two week court trial and extensive post-trial briefing, the Court ruled that there was no unconstitutional taking of the Plaintiffs’ properties under any of their theories, and entered judgment entirely in favor of the Defendants and against Plaintiffs. The result of this case has major implications in Cambria, as potentially thousands of vacant properties are similarly situated to those of the named Plaintiffs.
The decision was very comprehensive and ruled for the District on every material factual and legal issue in dispute. In particular, the Court found that (1) the statute of limitations for claims such as the Plaintiffs’ expired long ago, (2) the Coastal Commission will not allow any new development in Cambria, meaning any harm to Plaintiffs was not the result of the District’s actions, (3) the District has taken reasonable steps to both acquire new water sources and reduce existing water demand, and (4) the District has treated all similarly situated properties the same.
Mr. Fenstermacher is a partner and Assistant Section Head of Rutan’s Land Use and Entitlement section, and member of the Condemnation and Property Valuation Practice Group. He specializes in eminent domain/inverse condemnation, CEQA, land use and entitlement matters, and a wide variety real estate and land use related litigation, in addition to serving as a City Attorney. Assisting Fenstermacher as second chair was associate Jeffrey Farano, also member of the firm’s Land Use and Entitlement Section, where his areas of practice include a wide range of land use and entitlement matters, with additional support from Kelsey Quist, an associate in the firm’s Government and Regulatory Law section.
Clients with questions are welcome to contact Alan Fenstermacher, or the Rutan & Tucker attorney with whom you are regularly in contact.
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