Nollan v. California Coastal Comission

Supreme Court of the United States, 1987.

483 U.S. 825, 107 S.Ct. 3141, 97 L.Ed.2d 677.

Johnson, pp. 840-847


Facts: The Nollans own a beachfront property.  They want to demolish the current house and built a new one.  However, the California Coastal Commission says they must allow an easement for the public to get to the beach in order to get the permit.  The Nollans didn’t wanna.


Issue: Is the denial of the permit a compensable taking?


Rule: NEW RULE?!  A “permanent physical occupation” constitutes a compensable taking, and requiring such an occupation as a condition for a building permit also must be compensated in order to be constitutional.


Analysis: The majority says, in essence, that if the means and ends of the condition on the permit are not in line, the condition will become an unconstitutional uncompensated taking.  If the state of California thinks an easement is a good idea and a valuable public purpose, they should use eminent domain and pay for it.


The dissent says that on the contrary, it’s not the public that’s taking a right from the private landowners but rather the private individuals who are taking away a right from the public that is protected by the California Constitution.  They claim that the state has taken no property from the landowners.


Conclusion: The lower court (California Supreme Court?) is reversed and the Commission’s denial of the permit is found unconstitutional.


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