California’s Supreme Court recently issued an opinion that could have far reaching implications in that state.  In City of Perris v. Richard C. Stamper, the Court ruled that a judge should decide whether the city would have required a property owner to give up the strip that was condemned as a zoning condition for developing his land before the jury decides the amount of just compensation.

In that case, a city condemned a 1.66-acre strip that divided a nine-acre undeveloped parcel into two irregularly shaped triangles.  It was taken for an access road.  The city argued that the property owner would have been required to dedicate land for the road to the city with no compensation if he’d tried to develop his property for light industrial use and that this requirement must be considered in vaulting the property.

The Court held, “Thus, in a condemnation action, when a government entity makes a claim . . . that it would have required a dedication of some or all of the property being condemned had the property been developed, courts determining just compensation should look to whether that dedication requirement was put in place before it was probable that the property would be included in a government project.”  It further explained, “We hold that the project effect rule generally applies . . . to situations where it was probable at the time the dedication requirement was put in place that the property designated for public use was to be included in the project for which the property is being condemned,.  The applicability of the project effect rule thus turns on a preliminary factual question to be decided by the court.”