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Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 505 U.S. 1003, 112 S. Ct. 2886, 120 L. Ed. 2d 798, 34 ERC 1897 (1992)

Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Lucas (Petitioner), purchased residential lots on the coast of South Carolina in 1986. In 1988, the enactment of the Beachfront Management Act (the Act) barred the Petitioner from building any permanent habitable structures on the land.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Regulation that destroys all economically viable use will be considered a taking unless rooted in background principles of common law nuisance and state property law.


Facts. Lucas made plans to build on two beachfront lots because prior to 1987 no permit was required to build residences on these lots under the previous Coastal Zone Management Act which was enacted in 1977. The Beachfront Management Act, enacted in 1988, barred Lucas from constructing any permanent habitable structures on the two lots. In state court, Lucas had not challenged the purpose of the enactment. The South Carolina Supreme Court found that meant he had conceded that the legislative purpose of protecting an extremely valuable public resource from erosion and destruction was valid.

Issue. Whether the restriction barring Lucas from building permanent, habitable structures destroyed all economically viable use of the property such that a taking had occurred which required just compensation.

Content Type: Brief


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