November 2007

California Supreme Court Clarifies Respective Roles of Court and Jury During Compensation Trial in an Eminent Domain Action

In Metropolitan Water District of Southern California v. Campus Crusade for Christ, (2007) 41 Cal.4th 954, 161 P.3d 1175, the California Supreme Court held that the property owner has the burden to produce evidence to support a finding that rezoning is reasonably probable. Once that burden has been satisfied, neither party bears a particular burden of persuasion with respect to convincing the trier of fact that the reasonable probability exists or what effect such probability would have on the valuation of the property. The determination as to whether or not there is a reasonable probability of a use change is a question of fact for the jury.

T he Court further held that where the property owner produces evidence tending to show that some other aspect of the taking, such as the risk of a pipeline rupture, naturally tends to and actually does decrease the market value of the remaining property, it is for the jury to weigh its effect on the value of the property, as long as the effect is not speculative, conjectural, or remote.

Governor Signs Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act: AB 220

On Saturday, October 13, 2007, the Governor signed the Firefighter's Procedural Bill of Rights Act into law. It is now codified in the California Government Code, sections 3250 – 3262.

This law closely parallels the Peace Officer Procedural Bill of Rights Act codified at sections 3300, et seq., of the California Government Code.

Non-Religious Commercial Activities Not Protected as “Religious Exercise” Under RLUIPA

A recent appellate decision held that Federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) did not protect commercial activities conducted by the Scottish Rite Cathedral Association of Los Angeles (SRCALA) and its lessee, Los Angeles Scottish Rite Center, LLC (LASRC). The court reached this decision despite the fact that the activities were held at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and SRCALA’s affiliation with Freemasonry, an organization that the court found to “foster[] principles and practices that resemble religious exercise.”

State Agencies Can't Use Union MOU To Restrict Work Contracted Out to Private Design Firms

A recent California Supreme Court case, Consulting Engineers & Land Surveyors, Inc. v. Professional Engineers in California Government, held that the State of California and a state employee union cannot restrict the use of private contractors for architectural and engineering services by state agencies through a memorandum of understanding (MOU). In reaching this decision, the Court turned to an earlier case where it held that a constitutional restriction on the ability of state agencies to contract with private firms for architectural and engineering services on public works project had been expressly removed by Proposition 35 and impliedly repealed certain regulatory statutes pertaining to private contracting. (Professional Engineers in CaliforniaGovernment v. Kempton (2007) 40 Cal.4th 1016.) The Court said that the MOU contained limitations similar to those that the Court had held to be repealed by Proposition 35 in Kempton and as a result violated the California Constitution.