The question presented is whether rejection of a subdivision proposal deprived appellant of its property without just compensation contrary to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
This appeal is taken from a judgment sustaining a demurrer to a property owner's complaint for money damages for an alleged "taking" of its property. In 1975, appellant submitted a tentative subdivision map to the Yolo County Planning Commission. Under appellant's proposal, the subject property, at least part of which was planted with corn, would be subdivided into 159 single-family and multifamily residential lots.
The Yolo County Planning Commission rejected the subdivision plan, however, and the Board of Supervisors of the county affirmed that determination. The Board found numerous reasons why appellant's tentative subdivision map was neither "consistent with the General Plan of the County of Yolo, nor with the specific plan of the County of Yolo embodied in the Zoning Regulations for the County." App. 73. Appellant focuses our attention on four of those reasons. See id., at 45-46 (fourth amended complaint). First, the
Second, the Board found that appellant's "Tentative Map as presented [did] not provide for sewer service by any governmental entity":
Third, the Board rejected the development plan because "[t]he level of [police] protection capable of being afforded to the proposed site by the [Yolo County] Sheriff's Department is not intense enough to meet the needs of the proposed subdivision." Id., at 76. Fourth, the Board found inadequate the provision for water service for the reason that there was "no provision made in the proposed subdivision for the provision of water or maintenance of a water system for the subdivision by any governmental entity." Ibid.
After this rebuff, appellant filed the present action and, on the same day, a petition for a writ of mandate. The mandate action, which is still pending, seeks to set aside the Board's
The California Court of Appeal affirmed. It "accept[ed] as true all the properly pled factual allegations of the complaint," id., at 126, and did "not consider whether the complaint was barred by the failure to exhaust administrative remedies or by res judicata," id., at 125-126. But it "f[ou]nd the decision in Agins to be controlling herein," id., at 130:
In the alternative, the California Court of Appeal determined that appellant would not be entitled to monetary relief even if California law provided for this remedy:
The regulatory takings claim advanced by appellant has two components. First, appellant must establish that the regulation has in substance "taken" his property
It follows from the nature of a regulatory takings claim that an essential prerequisite to its assertion is a final and authoritative determination of the type and intensity of development legally permitted on the subject property. A court cannot determine whether a regulation has gone "too far" unless it knows how far the regulation goes. As Justice Holmes emphasized throughout his opinion for the Court in Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U. S., at 416, "this is a question of degree — and therefore cannot be disposed of by general propositions." Accord, id., at 413. To this day we have no "set formula to determine where regulation ends and taking begins." Goldblatt v. Hempstead, 369 U.S. 590, 594
Accord, id., at 191.
Here, in comparison to the situations of the property owners in the three preceding cases, appellant has submitted one subdivision proposal and has received the Board's response thereto. Nevertheless, appellant still has yet to receive the Board's "final, definitive position regarding how it will apply the regulations at issue to the particular land in question." Williamson Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U. S., at 191. In Agins, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Williamson
JUSTICE WHITE, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins and with whom JUSTICE POWELL and JUSTICE REHNQUIST join as to Parts I, II, and III, dissenting.
The Court acknowledges that we noted probable jurisdiction in this case "[b]ecause of the importance of the question
The Court recognizes that "the complaint alleged that appellant was deprived of all beneficial use of its property," ante, at 352, n. 8, but concludes:
The Court thus ignores the allegations in the complaint that the effect of the county's denial of appellant's subdivision application in conjunction with the reasons behind that denial and other actions taken by the appellees has been to deprive the appellant of any use of its property "which is not (a) economically infeasible, (b) prohibited by law, or (c) prevented by actions taken by [the appellees]." Fourth Amended Complaint, App. 46. The Court also disregards appellant's allegation that the actions of the appellees demonstrate "THAT ANY APPLICATION FOR A ZONE CHANGE, VARIANCE OR OTHER
In my view, the Court does not fairly read the record and the opinion below. Appellant's initial complaint filed in Superior Court alleged that although the property was zoned for residential use by the county it was designated an "Agricultural Preserve or Reserve" by the city. The complaint further alleged that even though the property lay in the county outside of the city's boundaries, the county implemented city policy relegating the land to agricultural uses. See Complaint of Oct. 13, 1977, pp. 9-12. Finally, the complaint asserted that the property was agriculturally impaired and could not economically be used for agricultural purposes. See id., at 5, 16.
In sustaining the appellees' demurrer to this complaint, the Superior Court accepted as true the allegation that the property had effectively been rezoned agricultural but noted that there was no allegation that the property could not be used for a variety of nonagricultural purposes explicitly allowed in agricultural zones under the county and city codes. See Order of Mar. 30, 1978, in No. 36655 (Cal. Super. Ct., Yolo County), pp. 6-8. The conclusion was that "[t]he failure to allege the property in question useless for other permitted purposes in an agricultural zone over and above an agricultural use renders the [inverse condemnation cause of action] demurrable." Id., at 8.
In the Fourth Amended Complaint, the complaint that formed the basis for the judgment below, appellant responded to this earlier ruling by specifically alleging that the property was not suitable for the other uses permitted in an agricultural zone and by asserting facts in support of this allegation. See App. 52-58. The Superior Court, however, indicated that it found these allegations "conclusionary," although it did not rely on this determination in sustaining the demurrer to the complaint, relying instead on the California Supreme Court's general ruling in Agins v. City of Tiburon,
In reviewing the Superior Court's ruling on the demurrer to the Fourth Amended Complaint, the California Court of Appeal first noted that it would not consider whether the complaint was barred by the failure to exhaust administrative remedies or by res judicata. App. 125-126. It then summarized the allegations of the complaint, including the allegations that the property was not suitable for agricultural use or any of the other uses permitted in the county code and that it was suitable for residential use but that the county and city had acted to prevent this use entirely. Id., at 127-129. The Court of Appeal also noted that appellant had alleged that "[a]ny application for a zone change, variance or other relief would be futile." Id., at 129. Nowhere did the court state that as a matter of California demurrer law it was rejecting any of these allegations as not properly pleaded. And nowhere did it refer to the Superior Court's statement that the allegations as to the infeasibility of the nonagricultural uses that would be consistent with agricultural zoning might not be properly pleaded.
In the alternative, however, the Court of Appeal found that even if such a cause of action were available, appellant had not stated a takings claim. The court concluded that "[p]ared to their essence, the allegations are that [appellant] purchased property for residential development, the property is zoned for residential development, [appellant] submitted an application for approval of development of the property into 159 residential units, and, in part at the urging of the City, the County denied approval of the application." App. 132. The court then observed that this situation was "not unlike" that in Agins, in which a zoning ordinance that restricted a landowner of five acres to building a maximum of five residences on his property was found not to constitute a taking since on its face the ordinance still allowed that level of development, which was a reasonable use of the property. See Agins, 447 U. S., at 262-263; Agins, 24 Cal. 3d, at 277, 598 P. 2d, at 31. Citing Agins, the Court of Appeal than determined that appellant had not stated a takings cause of action because appellees' refusal to allow the intensive development requested by appellant "does not preclude less intensive, but still valuable development." App. 133.
In my view, given the absence of any expression of disapproval by the Court of Appeal of any of the appellant's allegations summarized in its opinion and given the fact that the Superior Court had not labeled appellant's allegations of futility "conclusionary," there is no reason to read into this last statement by the Court of Appeal a state-law ruling that the allegations of futility were not well pleaded. Instead, the
Whether a regulatory taking has occurred is an inquiry that cannot be completed until a final decision is made as to how the allegedly confiscatory regulations apply to the pertinent property. Williamson County Regional Planning Comm'n, 473 U. S., at 190-191. Thus, in Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104, 136-137 (1978), and in Agins, supra, at 262-263, we considered for takings purposes only the actual regulatory decision that had been made by the governmental decisionmaker; we declined to speculate as to further restrictions that might be imposed. In Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Assn., Inc., 452 U.S. 264, 293-297 (1981), we refused to consider a takings claim based on general regulatory provisions that had not yet been applied to specific properties and that were susceptible of administrative exemption. Most recently, in Williamson County Regional Planning Comm'n, the Court determined that the denial of a particular use for a property did not constitute a final decision where variance procedures were available that "[left] open the possibility that [the landowner] may develop the subdivision according to its plat after obtaining the variances." 473 U. S., at 193-194.
Moreover, I see no reason for importing such a requirement into the "final decision" analysis. A decisionmaker's definitive position may sometimes be determined by factors other than its actual decision on the issue in question. For example, if a landowner applies to develop its land in a relatively intensive manner that is consistent with the applicable zoning requirements and if the governmental body denies that application, explaining that all development will be barred under its interpretation of the zoning ordinance, I would find that a final decision barring all development has been made — even though the landowner did not apply for a less intensive development. Although a landowner must pursue reasonably available avenues that might allow relief, it need not, I believe, take patently fruitless measures.
The Court of Appeal's reliance on Agins in this case was therefore misplaced. Appellant alleged not simply that its application had been denied but that the overall effect of (1) that denial, (2) the reasons given for the denial, and (3) other actions taken by appellees to prevent appellant from ever being able to meet county development requirements was that appellant's property had been taken. When the Court of Appeal purported to reduce appellant's claim to its essence, it ignored a critical distinction between Agins, in
Assuming that appellant adequately alleged a final decision, the next question is whether a takings cause of action was stated by the allegations in the complaint. Discerning the answer to this question involves two separate inquiries: Whether a land use regulation restricting the use of property may ever amount to a taking and, if the answer to this first inquiry is affirmative, whether the allegations here are sufficient to state a takings claim.
As to the first question, our cases have long indicated that police-power regulations may rise to the level of a taking if the restrictions they impose are sufficiently severe. See, e. g., Agins, 447 U. S., at 260; Prune Yard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 83 (1980); Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 174-175 (1979); Andrus v. Allard, 444 U.S. 51, 65-66 (1979); Penn Central, supra, at 130-131, 138, n. 36; United States v. Central Eureka Mining Co., 357 U.S. 155, 168 (1958); Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, 260 U.S. 393, 415-416 (1922). Nevertheless, the California Supreme Court in Agins concluded:
In addition to being inconsistent with this Court's statements, this view, as JUSTICE BRENNAN explained in his dissent in San Diego Gas, ignores the fact that
I agree that land use restrictions may constitute a taking under the Constitution.
This resolution of the general question brings me to the more specific question whether the allegations in the complaint here were sufficient to state a takings claim. Here, appellant alleged the existence of a final decision denying it all economically beneficial use of its property. It also alleged that it had paid "good and valuable consideration," App. 43, for the property. Factual allegations of interference with reasonable investment-backed expectations and denial of all economically feasible use of the property are certainly sufficient allegations of a regulatory taking to state a cause of action. See, e. g., Penn Central, 438 U. S., at 136-138. Consequently, I would hold that appellant adequately alleged a taking.
The final question presented is whether a State can limit to declaratory and injunctive relief the remedies available to a person whose property has been taken by regulation or whether the State must pay compensation for the interim period between the time that the government first "took" the property and the time that the "taking" is rescinded by amendment of the regulation.
I recognize that such a constitutional rule admits of problems of administration that are by no means insignificant. Aside from the problems that the Court has already addressed in some measure regarding the determination of when a taking shall be deemed to have occurred, there are questions of valuation and of procedure. As to the latter, the Constitution requires no particular procedures, although as the Court today notes, "[a] property owner is of course not required to resort to piecemeal litigation or otherwise unfair procedures in order to obtain this determination." Ante, at 350, n. 7. As to the former, the issue of what constitutes just compensation in this context is a particularly meaty one, which merits substantial reflection and analysis. Nevertheless, these unsettled questions should not deter us from acting to protect constitutional requirements in this type of case. Consequently, I would vacate the judgment below and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with the views I have expressed.
In sum, I believe that the Court of Appeal's decision is most properly read as taking as true all of the allegations in the complaint, including the allegations of futility, and as rejecting those allegations as insufficient as a matter of substantive takings law. At the very least, the Court's reading of the opinion below, however plausible, is not the only sensible
JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom JUSTICE POWELL joins, dissenting.
I agree with JUSTICE WHITE that the Court of Appeal's opinion is best read as rejecting appellant's allegations as a matter of substantive takings law; that appellant sufficiently alleged a final decision denying it all beneficial use of its property; that a land use regulation restricting the use of property may amount to a taking; and that the allegations here are sufficient to state a takings claim. Accordingly, I join Parts I, II, and III of his dissenting opinion. As JUSTICE WHITE recognizes in Part IV of his opinion, the questions surrounding what compensation, if any, is due a property owner in the context of "interim" takings are multifaceted and difficult. I would not reach these questions without first permitting the courts below to address them in light of the fact that appellant has sufficiently alleged a taking.
"Plaintiff seeks compensation because the County refused approval of the intensive development it desires, but that refusal does not mean that other, less intensive uses would also be denied. Accordingly plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to establish an uncompensated taking of its property." App. 135.
JUSTICE WHITE's dissent reluctantly concludes that our understanding of the Court of Appeal's decision is "plausible" and "sensible," but insists that the Court of Appeal's decision is "most properly read as taking as true all of the allegations in the complaint, including the allegations of futility, and as rejecting those allegations as insufficient as a matter of substantive takings law." Post, at 363. We disagree. Both state courts upheld appellees' demurrer on the ground that not all development had been foreclosed. Thus, the Superior Court apparently accepted appellant's submission that its property was restricted to agricultural use but held that, even so, valuable use might still be made of the land. The Court of Appeal was unwilling to concede even this much: it noted that appellant's property was zoned residential and held that valuable residential development was open to it. These holdings that there is no total prohibition against the productive use of appellant's land cannot possibly be reconciled with the allegations in the complaint that "any beneficial use" is precluded, App. 46, and that future applications would be futile, id., at 58. In view of the fact that these allegations were necessarily rejected by the state courts, and that the parties' briefs disclose a permissible basis for this disposition in settled California demurrer law, see n. 3, supra; see also Brief for Respondents in 3 Civil 22306 (Cal. Ct. App., Third App. Dist., July 10, 1984), pp. 25, 27; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Demurrer to Fourth Amended Complaint in No. 36655 (Cal. Super. Ct., Yolo County, Dec. 18, 1981), 4 Clerk's Tr., pp. 888-889, 912, n. 2, 914, it does not matter that the state courts neglected to "expressly disapprove" the deficient allegations or to detail the particular reasons why, see post, at 357.
Remarkably, the dissent implies that the Court of Appeal accepted the complaint's allegations that local regulations denied appellant all beneficial use of its property and that further regulatory proceedings would be fruitless, but nonetheless required it to file further "useless" applications to state a taking claim. Ibid. Whatever purpose such a requirement might serve, futile reapplications are not contemplated by the Court of Appeal. To begin with, this requirement is not, as the dissent maintains, suggested by the Court of Appeal's reliance on the decisions of the California Supreme Court and of this Court in Agins. See App. 132. To the contrary, the Court of Appeal relied on the decisions in Agins to illustrate that the property owners there — as here — had not "attempt[ed] to obtain approval to . . . develop the land" in accordance with applicable zoning regulations and for this reason had "failed to allege facts which would establish an unconstitutional taking of private property." Id., at 132-133. See 447 U. S., at 259-263; 24 Cal.3d 266, 277, 598 P.2d 25, 31 (1979). The implication is not that future applications would be futile, but that a meaningful application has not yet been made. The dissent's supposition that the Court of Appeal accepted the allegations of taking and futility is further contradicted by the court's express denial that submission of a less intensive application would be futile: "the refusal of the [appellees] to permit the intensive development desired by the landowner does not preclude less intensive, but still valuable development." App. 133.