• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this case involving buildings in a flood plain, the Supreme Court first ruled that a zoning ordinance could result in a taking, thus requiring just compensation under the Fifth Amendment.

A flood destroyed buildings that belonged to the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern California. The church found it could not rebuild because the buildings had been constructed on a flood plain, and a county ordinance banned building in such areas. The church challenged the ordinance, and California courts found the church could recover only if the ordinance was ruled an unlawful taking and the county refused to withdraw the ordinance. The Supreme Court found that the rescinding of an invalid ordinance was not an adequate remedy and the county must pay for excessive interference during the time the ordinance was in effect. The Court did not determine exactly when the taking actually occurred and how the damages might be calculated but did say that small delays that are a normal part of the process are not a taking. Justice John Paul StevensStevens, John Paul;First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. County of Los Angeles[First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. County of Los Angeles] expressed his concern, in his dissent, that this ruling would have a chilling effect on land-use planning because local governments might worry about potential liability. The case was returned to the lower courts, which found that the ordinance was not a taking.Zoning;First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. County of Los Angeles[First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. County of Los Angeles]Takings clause;First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. County of Los Angeles[First English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Glendale v. County of Los Angeles]

Property rights

Stevens, John Paul

Takings clause

Zoning

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