A California Appellate Court Held that the Mere Loss of a Homeowners’ View
Without the Physical Taking of a Property does not Constitute a Compensable Taking by a City
In Boxer v. City of Beverly Hills, plaintiff and others owned homes in Beverly Hills. The homeowners had unobstructed views of the hills of Beverly Hills, the Hollywood hills, and the Los Angeles’ basin, including the Hollywood sign. In 1989, the City of Beverly Hills planted approximately 24 sequoia trees in Roxbury Park, below plaintiffs’ homes. The City initially complied with the homeowners’ requests that the trees be trimmed and maintained, so that their views were not obstructed. Later, the City stopped trimming the trees. The homeowners sued the City for inverse condemnation alleging that the trees presented a fire hazard and obstructed their views. As the trees continued to grow, they obstructed the homeowners’ views entirely.
The City filed a demurrer asking the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that the homeowners failed to allege an injury amounting to a taking. The trial court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the impairment of views nor the speculative risk of fire danger constituted a taking or damage to their property. The homeowners did not allege any physical intrusion, occupation, invasion or physical damage of their property. In fact, the trees were not located on the plaintiffs’ properties. Instead, the homeowners argued that the impairment of their views was sufficient to support an inverse condemnation claim. The court disagreed with the plaintiffs.
Arguably, this case may be construed against homeowners protecting views in neighbor disputes. In California, views are not considered protected unless they are provided in a document such as a Covenant, Condition & Restriction, a view easement or local ordinance protecting views.
Shannon B. Jones, Partner, firstname.lastname@example.org