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Carman-HistoricThe City of Lake Oswego added the Carman House to its inventory of historic landmarks in 1990, pursuant to Statewide Planning Goal 5.  The oldest extant residential structure within the City, the Carman House is considered a rare and valuable example of a territorial Oregon residence.  The owners at the time, Mr. Wilmot and Mr. Gregg filed an objection to the designation.  However, since the city could designate a property as historic without a property owner’s consent, the property was designated over the owners’ objections.

Dayton v. Jordan, --- P3d --- (2016)

It is well established that a plat is generally sufficient to establish an express easement if it describes and depicts a roadway or trail sufficiently to reflect the intention to create an easement. Bloomfield v. Weakland, 224 Or App 433, 445-48 (2008), rev den, 346 Or 115 (2009).  In cases where a plat is insufficient to establish the intent to create an express easement, an easement may nevertheless be implied. In the typical case, an implied easement is not reflected in a deed or plat. Rather, it arises as an inference of the intention of the parties based on the circumstances existing at the time the land was divided and conveyed.  In those circumstances, the trial court applies the eight factor test established in Cheney v. Mueller, 259 Or 108, 118-19 (1971) to determine whether implied easement exists.  In Dayton v. Jordan, the Court of Appeals addressed the question of whether the trial court may short cut the Cheney test by implying an easement based almost exclusively on the depiction of the purported easement on the plat.  The Court of Appeals determined that the eight factor Cheney case must always be applied to establish an implied easement – even where the purported easement is depicted in a plat.

Jogger at a parkThe Oregon Public Use of Lands Act, ORS 105.672 et seq., provides immunity from tort liability to private and public owners of land that is made available to the public for recreational purposes.  The purpose of the Act is to encourage both private and public landowners to open their lands to the public.  In Johnson v. Gibson, 358 Or 624 (2016), the Oregon Supreme Court answered the question posed to it by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: Does the recreational immunity provided in the Public Use of Lands Act extend to employees of a landowner?  The Oregon Supreme Court found that it did not.

Justice Antonin Scalia passed away last week after almost 30 years as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Although his impact was felt throughout the country, it is worth pausing to look at how he affected the land use system more broadly and, in particular, Oregon’s system.

Red barrierState ex rel Dept. of Transp. v. Alderwoods (Oregon), Inc., 2015 WL 9589848, --- P.3d --- (2015)

The Oregon Supreme Court held that a government’s use of its police powers to eliminate or limit access to a property for public safety reasons is not compensable under Article I, Section 18 of the Oregon Constitution, so long as reasonable access to the abutting public right-of-way is maintained. The Court summarized its holding in the following proposition:

Skyline_farm_city clipartThere were two failed efforts to expand Woodburn’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), initially begun in 2005 which would allow the city to plan, annex and develop lands around the existing city limits. UGB expansion in Oregon requires evaluation of two sets of factors: one relating to the need for expansion for the 20-year timeframe required by law, and the other relating to the location of the revised UGB. Based on city population projections, additional lands for residential use were anticipated. The rub was over the total amount of lands needed for future residential, commercial, industrial, and employment uses, as well as the location of the revised UGB. 

Measure 49 reopened the method to review vested rights under 34 year-old case law in Clackamas County v. Holmes, 265 Or. 193 (1978). But, the analysis is vexing because very few local governments and courts are getting the analysis right. However, with each new decision, the Court of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court are attempting to clarify how local governments and trial courts should consider the application of the Holmes factors necessary to make a vested rights determination.

The Holmes factors are:

1) The ratio of prior expenditures to the total cost of development;

2) The good faith of the landowner in making the prior expenditures;

3) Whether the expenditures have any relationship to the complete project or could apply to various other uses of the land; and

4) The nature of the project, its location and ultimate cost.

In its January 12, 2012 opinion in Bowers v. Whitman, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the State of Oregon (and Jackson County) did not violate Plaintiffs' property rights under the takings, due process, and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution when the State modified the remedies available under Ballot Measure 37 through the enactment of Ballot Measure 49 (now codified as ORS 195.300 to 195.336). The Court held that any potential property interest the Plaintiffs had for compensation or for a specific type of land use based on their Measure 37 waivers had not vested, and therefore was not protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

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