Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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The United States filed suit against E. Wayne Hage, who is now deceased, and his son, Wayne N. Hage, alleging that they grazed cattle on federal lands without a permit or other authorization. The court concluded that defendants' unauthorized grazing of cattle on federal lands was unlawful, and their water rights have no effect on the analysis. Further, defendants' counterclaim under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701(a)(2), is barred by the statute of limitations. The court reversed the judgment for defendants on their counterclaims and remanded with instructions that the district court enter judgment for the government; vacated the judgment with respect to the government’s trespass claims and remanded for reconsideration under the correct legal standard; and, on remand, the district court shall determine, among other things, whether the source of law - state law or federal law - has any effect on the calculation of damages. On remand, the court ordered the cased assigned to a different district judge. View "United States v. Estate of E. Wayne Hage" on Justia Law

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El Dorado, a mobile home park owner located in the City of Fillmore alleged that the City interfered with an application for a subdivision of its seniors-only mobile home park by causing unreasonable delays and imposing extralegal conditions because of a fear that subdivisions would lead to El Dorado opening the Park to families. El Dorado's complaint was dismissed for lack of standing. The court concluded, however, that El Dorado had Article III standing where El Dorado suffered a concrete and particularized, actual, injury, in the form of added expenses caused by the City's interference of the application. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.View "El Dorado Estates v. City of Fillmore" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from a proceeding brought by the Klallam under the continuing jurisdiction of a 1974 decree issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, and it involved a dispute over the geographic scope of the Lummi's "usual and accustomed fishing grounds." The court held that the law of the case doctrine applies only when the issue was decided explicitly or by necessary implication in the previous disposition. In this case, the court held that no prior decision has yet explicitly or by necessary implication determined whether the waters immediately west of northern Whidbey Island are a part of the Lummi's usual and accustomed fishing grounds. Therefore, the district court erred in concluding that the issue was controlled by law of the case and the court reversed the grant of Klallam's motion for summary judgment, remanding for further proceedings.View "Lower Elwha Klallam Indian Tribe v. Lummi Nation" on Justia Law

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ATC filed suit challenging the City's denial of its Conditional Use Permit (CUP) applications for three of its San Diego telecommunications facilities. ATC raised claims under, among other provisions, the California Permit Streamlining Act (PSA), Cal. Gov't Code 65956(b); the Federal Telecommunications Act (TCA), 47 U.S.C. 332; California Code of Civil Procedure 1094.5; and the Equal Protection Clause. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of ATC on the PSA claim because the court concluded that the CUP applications were not deemed approved before the City denied them. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the TCA claim where the City evaluated the CUP applications under the proper provision of the Land Development Code and supported its decision to deny them with substantial evidence; the City did not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services because ATC and the City are not "similarly situated" providers; and ATC has failed to show effective prohibition because it has not demonstrated that its proposals were the least intrusive means of filling a significant gap in coverage. ATC could not prevail on California Code of Civil Procedure 1094.5 because it does not have a fundamental vested right to the continued use of the Verus, Border, and Mission Valley Facilities. There was no violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the City's decision to deny the CUP applications was rationally related to the City's legitimate interest in minimizing the aesthetic impact of wireless facilities and in providing public communications services. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and affirmed in part.View "American Tower Corp. v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was entitled to use the Fortymile Trail for access to his state mining claims. Plaintiff sought a declaration that he was entitled to a right-of-way to access his state mining claims on the Fortymile Trail both under a federal statute commonly referred to as R.S. 2477 and because he has an easement by implication or necessity, and that the real property interests claimed by the non-federal defendants were subject to this right-of-way. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims against all defendants and plaintiff appealed. The court concluded that plaintiff's claims against the federal government were barred by sovereign immunity, but that the district court erred in concluding that his claims against Doyon Limited and Hungwitchin Corporation were barred by principles of prudential standing. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Mills v. United States" on Justia Law

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This litigation arose from the City's recent efforts to complete its power system expansion plan first conceived in 1972 and re-affirmed in 2007. The City owns and operates Idaho Falls Power. Alliance sought declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the City lacked the power to condemn property outside its boundaries for the purpose of building electric transmission lines. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Alliance, finding that Idaho law did not grant the City (or, by extension, IFP) the power to condemn property outside its corporate limits for the purpose of constructing the transmission lines. Because the power to exercise eminent domain extraterritorially for the purpose of constructing electric transmission lines (1) has not been expressly granted to the City by the state, (2) cannot be fairly implied from the powers that the City has been given by the state, and (3) is not essential to accomplishing the City's objects and purposes, the City does not have that power. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Alliance v. City of Idaho Falls" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the City's enactment of an ordinance which had the practical effect of prohibiting new group homes - i.e., homes in which recovering alcoholics and drug users live communally and mutually support each other's recovery - from opening in most residential zones. The court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' disparate treatment claims; plaintiffs have created a triable fact that the ordinance was enacted in order to discriminate against them on the basis of disability, and that its enactment and enforcement harmed them; and the court reversed the district court's dismissal of all of plaintiffs' damages claims, except for its dismissal of Terri Bridgeman's claim for emotional distress. View "Pac. Shores Properties v. City of Newport Beach" on Justia Law

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These consolidated appeals concerned the 1999 Final Rules, identifying which navigable waters within Alaska constituted "public lands," promulgated by the Secretaries to implement part of the Alaska National Interstate Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), 16 U.S.C. 3101-3233. The court concluded that Katie John I was a problematic solution to a complex problem, in that it sanctioned the use of a doctrine ill-fitted to determining which Alaskan waters were "public lands" to be managed for rural subsistence priority under ANILCA; but Katie John I remains the law of this circuit and the court, like the Secretaries, must apply it the best it can; in the 1999 Rules, the Secretaries have applied Katie John I and the federal reserved water rights doctrine in a principled manner; it was reasonable for the Secretaries to decide that the "public lands" subject to ANILCA's rural subsistence priority included the waters within and adjacent to federal reservations; and reserved water rights for Alaska Native Settlement allotments were best determined on a case-by-case basis. View "John v. Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund" on Justia Law

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Firebaugh claimed that a lack of adequate drainage in part of the Central Valley Project (CVP) caused poor quality water flow into its service area. Firebaugh argued that Interior should be ordered to provide the necessary drainage or, alternatively, to pay money damages. The court held that Interior's broad discretion in matters of drainage precluded both claims. Firebaugh's proposals did not involve discrete actions that Interior was legally required to take; rather, they involved matters of discretion and, as such were beyond the scope of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(1). Providing irrigation water without concomitantly providing adequate drainage for it was a discretionary function and, therefore, not actionable under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2674. View "Firebaugh Canal Water District, et al v. United States, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants enforced two local ordinances in violation of the Eighth Amendment. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's order granting summary judgment to defendants. The court reversed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for retrospective relief because those claims were not barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; the court reversed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for prospective relief because those claims have not been mooted by defendants' voluntary conduct; the court did not reach the merits of plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment challenges; and the court held that jurisdiction existed as to plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment claims and remanded for a consideration of the merits in the first instance. View "Bell, et al v. City of Boise, et al" on Justia Law