California Property Law News - California Case Law
California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Property Law Category

As the effects of global warming are felt every day as we weather this drought, California legislators continue to debate how to deal with the impending effects of climate change.

And as cap-and-trade is debated, California's Department of Health is setting new standards by "adopting the nation's first-ever drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium," reports the Los Angeles Times.

California is somewhat famous for its protracted battles over property variances and compliance with zoning restrictions.

In Eskeland v. City of Del Mar, neighbors of a man who wanted to remodel his home fought tooth and nail to keep him from doing so, claiming he was in violation of the city's many municipal codes. In the end, the Court of Appeal denied the neighbor's challenges to his plans.

Here are five lessons all neighbors can learn from the Eskelands:

With so many legal issues brewing in the state of California, it's hard to settle on just one. Between the ongoing drought and water shortage in California, new civil rights lawsuits and federal challenges to state laws, there's a lot to talk about. So let's get to it and see what all the headlines are about.

Voting Rights of Ex-Felons

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in Alameda County seeking declaratory injunctive relief on behalf of ex-felons that fall under new categories of low-level felons under realignment, according to KQED.

Things are heating up in California -- well, almost. Even after the flames are long gone, the Environmental Protection Agency is still fanning the fires that are the controversy surrounding Chevron's refinery blaze. And, on the eve of a new law taking effect, religious groups have joined together to challenge the law on -- of all things -- privacy grounds.

Chevron and the EPA

If you're in California then you probably remember the refinery fire that resulted in 15,000 people seeking medical treatment, according to Reuters. The latest in the fire's aftermath is a letter from Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's Western Regional Administrator, in which he declares that the company failed to limit the risk of environmental catastrophe by "repeatedly fail[ing] to follow its own practices, plans, and recommendations."

Fresh off a defeat in a California appellate court, plaintiff James Maral, with the support of the California branch of NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws), will petition the state's high court for review of a decision that upheld the City of Live Oak's ban on cultivating marijuana for personal use.

According to California NORML, Maral, 42, suffers from compartment syndrome, a painful and life- and limb-threatening condition caused by insufficient blood flow to nerves and muscles, as well as six damaged discs in his back from work as a heavy equipment driver. He's also the caretaker for his mother, who has severe diverticulitis and Crohn's disease. Marijuana presumably helps with his pain management, allowing him to care for his mother, but the nearest dispensary is two hours away.

"The only thing I'm fighting for is the patients who just want a couple of plants in their backyard," Maral told NORML. "I'm not willing to let my mother die or live out the rest of her time in a hospital."

This may have been an interesting legal case, if it wasn't already all-but-decided by the California Supreme Court earlier this year.

The City of Live Oak passed an ordinance in 2011 that banned all cultivation of marijuana, regardless of whether the grower was doing so for personal use, medicinal use, or retail. The city did so due to fear of property damage, increased crime, the nuisance of noxious odors, the inability of the state laws to prevent recreational use, and because the city wished to comply with federal law.

And though the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program provide exemptions from prosecution for medical marijuana-related offenses, the California Supreme Court's holding earlier this year in Inland Empire nixed any arguments the plaintiffs may have had.

California's egg law is still causing consternation in Washington, but while politicians are fighting over the farm bill, California has moved on to vaccines, booze tasting and fracking. As we get closer to January deadlines for new laws to take effect, here's a roundup of how these law are progressing.

California's Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, was passed in 2006. It set the goal of hitting early 1990s greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020, and does so though a "cap and trade" system. California sets a statewide cap on carbon emissions, awards permits to affected companies, and then the companies are free to buy, sell, and trade between themselves.

There are also a number of permits that are held back. The state auctions these permits as a revenue-raising measure, with the proceeds earmarked for further efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These auctions are the basis of two legal challenges, both defeated Thursday at the trial level, which allege that the auctions weren't authorized by AB 32, and even if they were, the regulation amounts to a tax, and is unconstitutional because it was not passed by a two-thirds majority in the legislature.

So a chicken, a duck and a shark walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a corny joke right? Well it's not.

Right now, California's prohibitions on shark fins, foie-gras and the confines of egg-laying hens are coming to national attention, and raising issues of federalism and the dormant commerce clause.

Back in August, we couldn't help but wonder: is this the end of the California High Speed Rail? The "train to nowhere" project, which plans to build its first section of track between Bakersfield and Madera, has faced increasing scrutiny as the price tag has exploded to $68 billion, while the authorizing legislation, Proposition 1A, only provides for $9.95 billion.

In August, Judge Michael Kenny held that the state had broken its promises to voters by failing to have a viable financing plan, with actual (rather than theoretical) sources of money, and by failing to complete the required environmental reports. On Friday, the state shifted tactics, and argued that only the legislature could shut down the project, and that construction could commence on federal funds alone  -- a proposition which would trigger massive state funding obligations.