Articles Posted in Property Rights and the Constitution

San Diego PortAuthor: Staff

Zoning is an important part of land use planning in nearly every major city in the United States. Local governments usually have jurisdiction over land use issues. Both the City of San Diego and San Diego County have zoning ordinances and procedures for permitting construction and development in different zones. California real estate investors need to be familiar with local zoning ordinances, as well as the restrictions of land use that go along with them, before committing to an investment. While investors should always keep in mind the adage that “you can’t fight City Hall,” it is possible to challenge or change a zoning designation. In San Diego, this can happen in several ways involving the Planning Commission or the City Council. Litigation may also be a means of modifying zoning designations, although it is rarely a first resort.

The Zoning and Rezoning Processes

San Diego BayAuthor: Staff

San Diego real estate investors need to be aware of land use restrictions, such as restrictive covenants included in a deed, or zoning and other restrictions under city or county laws. Both the City of San Diego and San Diego County have zoning laws that restrict the use of land within their jurisdiction. We will focus on zoning within the City of San Diego.

What Is Zoning?

California coastAuthor: Staff

California offers more than 1,100 miles of coastline, greater than the distance over land between San Diego and Seattle. Owning beachfront property is a dream for countless people, and it can be an excellent investment. Owning coastal property in California comes with obligations, however, including restrictions on development and, in some areas, public beach access. The California Coastal Commission (CCC) regulates the development and use of coastal property. San Diego real estate investors looking at beachfront property anywhere in the state should consider how CCC rules may affect them.

The California Coastal Commission

vacation homesAuthor: Staff

Real Estate News is a new feature at Titles & Deeds. We will periodically address new developments in the real estate world that matter to real estate investors. 

For the past few years, vacation rental properties have been a controversial topic in San Diego. Real estate investors often find vacation rentals to be a lucrative source of income in many San Diego neighborhoods, and companies like Airbnb  and HomeAway offer an efficient way to match property owners with renters. Neighbors of vacation rentals, on the other hand, often complain that allowing short-term rentals of residential properties harms neighborhoods in various ways, such as by increasing noise and traffic. After a rather confusing series of events, the San Diego City Council has scheduled a hearing on a proposed set of regulations affecting short-term vacation rental properties as a form of San Diego real estate.

Minnesota-Amicus-Brief

Author: Luke Wake

Luke Wake is an attorney for the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center—a Bona Law client. Luke and Jarod Bona have also published two law review articles together, on both takings and antitrust law. Luke is one of this nation’s leading experts on takings law. You can read some of his academic articles here.

Last week Bona PC filed an amicus brief, on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center, challenging the Minnesota Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (“MUPA”).

In this case, a Minnesota resident discovered that she had lost a substantial inheritance because she had invested it in a savings account and left the money untouched—without any interaction with her bank—for a three-year period. At that time, Minnesota deemed her account presumptively “abandoned” under MUPA and the Act required the bank to transfer her money to the State’s general fund.

Under Minnesota law this could happen to anyone holding assets in a Minnesota bank account. This is, of course, highly concerning, especially since the State offers no actual notice to affected owners. For that matter, the only way that a Minnesota resident may learn that he or she has lost assets under MUPA is by searching a website.

Minnesota is willing to return the amount it seized when an owner discovers that the State has taken possession, but MUPA assigns the interest on the money to the State rather than the owner during the time the State holds his or her assets. So whereas one fully expects to earn interest on money deposited in a savings account, MUPA purports to extinguish that right at the time the State forcibly transfers the money to the State’s control.

But can a state law simply abrogate private property rights in this manner?

This is the essential question that the Minnesota Supreme Court will soon decide in Hall v. State. Affected owners argue that MUPA effects an unconstitutional taking of their property in withholding accrued interest, while the State defends its regime on the view that nothing is taken because MUPA defines the scope of one’s continued rights in property deemed presumptively abandoned. That is, the state tries to define away your property rights to the money in your savings account.

In the proceedings below, the Court of Appeals sided with the State—holding that there could be no valid takings claim where an owner has lost rights as a result of his or her own “neglect” under the statute.

We argue in our amicus brief that the State cannot simply avoid a takings claim by virtue of the fact that an enacted statute purports to impose restrictions on one’s common law property rights. If that were the case then regulatory authorities could enact legislation to take private property without paying just compensation by putting an expiration date on one’s right to retain title, or by simply declaring that once protected private property rights are no longer recognized under state law. But, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court had already made clear—in numerous cases—that the government cannot abrogate private property rights in this manner.

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