Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

535 U.S. 302 (2002)


The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) instituted moratoriums on building activities while it developed a comprehensive plan. A 1980 compact required the TRPA to develop a comprehensive plan within specific time frames, but those deadlines were not met. It, therefore, enacted Ordinance 81-5 banning any construction or other activity that involved the removal of vegetation or the creation of land coverage on all SEZ lands. TRPA adopted Resolution 83-21 which imposed an 8-month moratorium prohibiting all construction on high hazard lands in either State. Tahoe-Sierra (P) filed parallel actions against TRPA and other defendants. The District Court identified the distinction between a direct government appropriation of property without just compensation and a government regulation that imposes such a severe restriction on the owner's use of her property that it produces 'nearly the same result as a direct appropriation.' A 'regulation will constitute a taking when either: (1) it does not substantially advance a legitimate state interest; or (2) it denies the owner economically viable use of her land.' The District Court found that the average purchasers 'did not have reasonable, investment-backed expectations that they would be able to build single-family homes on their land within the six-year period involved in this lawsuit.' As for the 'total taking' issue, it found that they had been temporarily deprived of 'all economically viable use of their land.' Both parties appealed. The Court of Appeals held that because the regulations had only a temporary impact on petitioners' fee interest in the properties, no categorical taking had occurred. 'Property interests may have many different dimensions such as a physical dimension, a functional dimension, and a temporal dimension. Ps argument was that the court should conceptually sever each P's fee interest into discrete segments in at least one of these dimensions and treat each of those segments as separate and distinct property interests for purposes of takings analysis. Under this theory, they argue that there was a categorical taking of one of those temporal segments.' The Supreme Court granted certiorari