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

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
by
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

by
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

by
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

by
Good News appealed from the district court's determination on remand from the Ninth Circuit that the Town's ordinance restricting the size, duration, and location of temporary directional signs did not discriminate between different forms of noncommercial speech in an unconstitutional manner. In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the court held that the ordinance was not a content-based regulation and was a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction. Accepting the court's opinion in Reed as law of the case, the court concluded that the Sign Code was constitutional because the different treatment of types of noncommercial temporary signs were not content-based as that term was defined in Reed, and the restrictions were tailored to serve significant government interests. Good News' other challenges did not merit relief. Further, the court determined that the amendments to the Sign Code made by the Town during the pendency of the appeal did not moot this case and that Good News could file a new action in the district court should it wish to challenge the new provisions of the Sign Code. View "Reed, et al v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, et al" on Justia Law

by
The City of Glendale and various other parties sought to set aside the Department of the Interior's decision to accept in trust, for the benefit of the Tohono O'odham Nation, a 54-acre parcel of land known as Parcel 2. The Nation hoped to build a destination resort and casino on Parcel 2, which was unincorporated county land, entirely surrounded by the city. This appeal related the the status of the land as trust. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the government after that court concluded that the Secretary of the Interior reasonably applied the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act, Pub. L. No. 99-503, 100 Stat. 1798, and that the Act did not violate the Indian Commerce Clause or the Tenth Amendment. View "City of Glendale, et al v. United States, et al" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs were owners and operators of motels in Los Angeles. Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 41.49, which requires operators of hotels in the City to maintain certain guest registry information and to make that information available to police officers on request. Appellants contended that LAMC 41.49 was facially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment because it authorized unreasonable invasions of their private business records without a warrant or pursuant to any recognized warrant exception. Following a bench trial on stipulated evidence, the district court held that the ordinance was reasonable and granted judgment in favor of the City, concluding that the hotel operators did not establish that they had a privacy interest in the guest registry information. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' facial challenge to the ordinance failed. That the ordinance might operate unconstitutionally under some circumstances was not enough to render it invalid against a facial challenge. View "Patel v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

by
This case was a challenge to the State of Washington's Building Code brought by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) along with individual builders and contractors. The impetus for this challenge was the State's 2009 requirement that new building construction must meet heightened energy conservation goals. At issue was the Energy Policy and Conservation Act's (EPCA) preemption-exemption provision, which expressly preempts state standards requiring greater efficiency than federal standards but exempts from preemption state building codes promoting energy efficiency, so long as those codes meet statutory conditions. Plaintiffs argued that the Building Code did not satisfy EPCA's conditions for exemption. The district court held that Washington had satisfied EPCA's conditions and therefore was not preempted. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Building Code satisfied the conditions Congress set forth in the EPCA for exemption from federal preemption. View "Bldg. Ind. Ass'n of Wash. v. Wash. State Bldg. Code" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court seeking damages for the 31 months during which they were barred from improving their shoreline property by the moratorium imposed by local officials on new projects. Plaintiffs asserted that the moratorium violated their substantive and procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and sought damages against the city under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court concluded that the moratorium ordinances were validly enacted, nonarbitrary, and manifestly related to the city's legitimate municipal interests. Accordingly, the court held that the city did not violate plaintiffs' constitutional rights. View "Samson, et al. v. City of Bainbridge Island" on Justia Law

by
The Lands Commission appealed the district court's final judgment in this eminent domain case, wherein the United States took a fee simple interest in the property at issue on behalf of the Navy, which has continuously leased this parcel since 1949. In condemning the property, the United States sought to extinguish California's public trust rights. The court concluded that, having paid just compensation, the United States was entitled to the interest it sought in its complaint in condemnation; full fee simple, free of California's public trust. The court concluded that neither the equal-footing doctrine nor the public trust doctrine prevented the federal government from taking that interest in the land unencumbered.

by
Four mobile home park owners appealed the dismissal of their suit under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. 3604, 3617, challenging a city zoning ordinance prohibiting any mobilehome park currently operating as senior housing from converting to all-age housing. The court held that because the FHAA was silent on whether such senior housing zones were permissible and because federal regulations allow for them, the judgment of the district court was affirmed.