In the classic 1908 novel (and 1985 film), A Room With a View, the female protagonist laments the fact that while she has been promised hotel accommodations in Florence that feature a view of the beautiful River Arno, she instead finds herself housed in a room that overlooks a meager courtyard. Alas, she must make do.

In a recent decision out of the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District [see Boxer v. City of Beverly Hills, 246 Cal. App. 4th 1212 (Apr. 26, 2016)], disgruntled owners of real estate learned a similar lesson. Not only did they lose their unobstructed views from their backyard when the defendant municipality planted a stand of coastal redwood trees in a nearby park, the owners lost their lawsuit for inverse condemnation. The impairment of their view did not alone amount to “a taking” or damaging of their property under California condemnation law.

Inverse Condemnation Differs from Eminent Domain

While most California real estate owners have heard of eminent domain, many fewer understand the related, but decidedly different legal rules involving inverse condemnation. With eminent domain, a governmental entity has the right “to take” one’s property for a public good, but must pay fair value for that taking. Inverse condemnation occurs, on the other hand, when – in the eye of the real estate owner – the government has taken, acquired, or otherwise appropriated property without following the required eminent domain procedures. Inverse condemnation can even occur when the landowner’s right to use his or her property has been detrimentally affected by regulation or some other burden.

Landowners Contended the Planting of Trees Affecting Their View was “a Taking”

In Boxer v. Beverly Hills, the landowners contended that the government’s action in planting the trees (and spoiling their view) amounted to an inappropriate taking without compensation. The appellate court held that obstruction of view did not constitute a taking. The court went on to say, however, that if the landowners had otherwise proven a taking by the government, then (and only then) the loss of the view might have been considered by a California court in assessing the appropriate diminution in value of the property.

Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation Are Complex Legal Issues

Both eminent domain and inverse condemnation involve complex legal issues. Having experienced, aggressive legal counsel on your side is generally a key to success in any struggle with a government entity. Have you or your business been contacted by a governmental entity regarding a planned condemnation of all or part of your property? Has a governmental action amounted to a burden or a taking of your property interests? For years now, CKB VENNA LLP has represented landowners, homeowners, lessees, and others who have an interest in real property in California as they face the harsh reality of a governmental condemnation proceeding. Our team understands the complexity of the issues and stands ready to represent you aggressively. We have offices in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. Contact us by telephone at 909-980-1040, or complete our online form.