Property Law Decisions: Decided

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The San Francisco Academy of Art has agreed to settle the lawsuit filed against them by San Francisco's City Attorney after nearly a decade-long dispute. The academy will pay $20 million to the city (over the next five years) for various housing, code, and zoning ordinance violations they committed in San Francisco over the past decade, while the housing crisis was at an all time peak. Additionally, as part of the settlement, the academy will spend nearly $40 million on bringing two of their own buildings into compliance and offering 160 units of affordable housing to seniors.

While the city might be trying to spin this settlement as a positive result, the Academy's attorney made it clear that they would have accepted this same settlement deal without litigation being filed. The academy has 40 buildings across the city and could easily turn quite a nice profit just by serving as a landlord in one of the most expensive cities in the country. The lawsuit alleged that 33 of the 40 buildings owned by the academy in the city were out of compliance. Furthermore, the academy allegedly illegally converted several building they purchased from residential use to commercial use.

The downtown Los Angeles underground light rail has finally gotten the green light from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Two downtown businesses, a shopping plaza and a hotel, filed suit back in 2013 to stop the construction, claiming that the construction would have a negative impact on their businesses. The two businesses specifically claimed that the noise from the construction, as well as other impacts from the construction, would disturb the retail mall's shoppers as well as the hotel's guests.

Last year, the federal court granted summary judgment against the businesses, however the businesses appealed. After over three years of litigation, it looks like the construction may finally begin on the new lines.

The Supreme Court is reaching the final cases of its October 2014 term, and has some doozies on the docket.

From raisin rights to marriage rights and the right to a humane execution, here are some of the highlights on next week's SCOTUS oral argument calendar.

Mass. Strip Club Can Buck Regulations Thanks to Federal Ruling

A strip club in Massachusetts can operate with fewer restrictions thanks to a recent federal appellate court's ruling.

Showtime Entertainment LLC sued the town of Mendon because of the hamlet's "maze of regulations" which made it near impossible to establish or operate an adult entertainment business there. Mendon's bylaws focused specifically on adult entertainment businesses like Showtime, requiring them to be within a size and height limit, mandating off-duty policemen to patrol the business, and forbidding alcohol.

Why did the court rule for Showtime over Mendon's rules?

Wash. Judge Rules for No-Pot City, Blocks MJ Shops

A Washington state judge has ruled that a suburb of Tacoma can prohibit marijuana retail operations despite the new state law legalizing the practice.

The ruling came in a case brought by a resident of the town of Fife who wished to open a pot shop there but was blocked by city authorities, reports The Associated Press.

What was the basis of the ruling and what does it mean for the future of Washington's still-fresh foray into legalized marijuana sales?

Chicago's Gun Ban Struck Down, but Ruling Placed On Hold

A city ban on gun sales within Chicago is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang said the city ban, aimed to curb gun violence, is unconstitutional because it goes too far in barring buyers and dealers from engaging in lawful sales. The ruling opens the possibility for retail gun retailers to set up shop in Chicago.

For now, however, the judgment is stayed, until the city can figure out its next steps.

NYC Tenants' Settlement Upheld in Alleged Landlord Fraud Case

A NYC tenant settlement affecting more than 20,000 rent-regulated tenants has been upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On Monday, the federal appeals court ruled that a 2011 settlement of a tenants' class-action lawsuit was indeed reasonable and fair, The New York Times reports.

This ruling has paved the way for these tenants to seek individual compensation from their landlord over rent overcharges and any other complaints.

But why did the settlement come into question in the first place?

New York, Occupy Wall Street Settle Books Lawsuit for $232k

NYC librarians can quietly rejoice as Occupy Wall Street's "People's Library" settled a federal lawsuit with the city over the destruction of 2,800 books during a police raid on Zuccotti Park in late 2011.

The $232,000 Occupy settlement has raised a few eyebrows because of where the bulk of the money is going.

Floating Home Was Not a Boat, Supreme Court Rules

Don't call it a "houseboat." The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that a Florida man's floating home was not a vessel. For the record, a houseboat has means of propulsion, and Fane Lozman's home did not.

Because of that distinction, the "floating home" should not have been seized by the City of Riviera Beach under federal maritime law, the Court held.

But why would a city try to seize a man's houseboat -- er, floating residence -- in the first place? And then argue it all the way up to the Supreme Court? Well, the home's owner was a bit of a pain in the neck, NPR reports.

Foreclosure Settlement to Cost 10 Banks $8.5B

There's good news for past and present homeowners, as a group of 10 banks have reached a settlement over claims of foreclosure abuse.

The deal makes changes to an enforcement action by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency. The original action required banks to hire independent consultants to investigate foreclosure abuse and make victims whole.

But that process proved both inefficient and ineffective. Now the parties have reached a separate agreement that will hopefully benefit foreclosure victims.