Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glandale (Appellant), purchased land in 1957 where it operated a campground as a retreat for handicapped children. A 1977 forest fire created a flooding hazard and a flood destroyed the camp buildings. Subsequently, an ordinance was passed that prohibited building in the area.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The just compensation clause requires the government to pay for temporary taking during the effective period of a regulation before it is ultimately found invalid as a taking.
Issue. Whether landowner who challenges that his property has been taken by a land use regulation may recover damages for time period before it is finally determined that a regulation does constitute a taking.
Held. Subsequent invalidation of the ordinance is not enough to justly compensate the property owner for the temporary taking. Where the government’s activities have worked a taking, no subsequent withdrawal of the regulation can relieve the government of the duty to pay for the period during which the taking was effective.
Dissent. Justice John Paul Stevens (J. Stevens) stressed that the Court did not find there was a taking based on the flood protection regulation, which he thought was a valid health and safety measure. J. Stevens also thought it was irrational that a proportional reduction of the economic value was not compensated, but that a delay in time for all value was compensable, both were fractions of the overall economic value. Stevens also thought the litigants should have to exhaust state remedies to seek monetary relief before raising the question of a taking.
Discussion. The church was compensated for the extensive litigation period wherein all use of the property was denied. Prior decisions relied upon by the government only stood for the proposition that value of property must be calculated at the time of the taking, but did not need to be extended to say that no taking can occur until the ordinance is ultimately held invalid.
Property Law Keyed to Singer (Third Edition)