COURT OF APPEAL INVALIDATES AMENDMENT TO REDEVELOPMENT PLAN

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In Neilson v. City of California City (January 9, 2007), the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's ruling in favor of defendant, the City of California City, and invalidated the amendment to the City's redevelopment plan. The Court of Appeal held that the City misinterpreted Redevelopment Law (California Health & Safety Code Section 33000 et seq) by finding that subdivided lots without legal and physical access to a right-of-way were of "irregular form and shape."



Redevelopment Law defines "the existence of subdivided lots of irregular form and shape and inadequate size for proper usefulness and development that are in multiple ownership" as a physical condition that causes blight. The City interpreted "irregular" to mean "not conforming to the standard of law, propriety, method or custom, lacking an established pattern" and found that vacant, subdivided lots that had no legal or physical access to a public right-of-way were "irregular." The Court of Appeal held that the City misinterpreted and misapplied the term "irregular."  The term "irregular" must be interpreted as describing the "form and shape" of lots that are blighted and not as a definition of blight in and of itself. The lack of legal or physical access to a public right-of-way does not affect the "form and shape" of a lot, thus the City's findings were invalid.

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