Today, in San Remo Hotel v. San Francisco, No. 04-340,
the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that claimants under the
Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment are not allowed to litigate
every legal and factual issue twice, first in state court
and then in federal court. Some developers use litigation,
or even the mere threat of litigation, to gain leverage when
negotiating with local officials over applications for building
permits. If the court had allowed developers and other takings
claimants to litigate every issue twice, the ruling would
have greatly increased their negotiating advantage at the
expense of neighboring landowners and the community at large.
Timothy J. Dowling, Chief Counsel of Community Rights Counsel,
responded favorably to the ruling:
"The Supreme Court wisely put to rest the attempt
by the national developers' lobby to get something no other
claimant receives: two bites at the litigation apple. Developers
have called takings lawsuits a 'hammer to the head' of local
officials. The court today took the second hammer away from
the hands of developers. The ruling will help level the
playing field and allow local officials and planners to
protect our communities through reasonable land use controls."
Community Rights Counsel filed an amicus brief in San Remo
on behalf of California municipalities and the American Planning
Association in support of San Francisco.