Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Proceeds remaining after a home foreclosure sale were deposited with a trial court due to competing claims to the proceeds. A primary dispute between the claimants was whether a first in time trust deed sufficiently described the foreclosed property. Among other things, the court found the description was insufficient and the trust deed therefore void. It entered judgment in favor of a next in time state tax lien. Finding no error in the result of the judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "MTC Financial Inc. v. Cal. Dept. of Tax & Fee Admin." on Justia Law

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Defendant County of Placer sold plaintiff Patrick Hodges’s real property at a tax sale. The County later paid plaintiff the excess proceeds remaining from the sale less payments made to others. Plaintiff contended the County, its board of supervisors, and its treasurer breached a fiduciary duty they owed him, and converted his personal property, when they did not audit a payment made from the proceeds to others and did not pay him interest or earnings on its investment of the proceeds while it held them in trust. The trial court sustained the County’s demurrer to plaintiff’s second amended complaint without leave to amend and entered a judgment of dismissal. The trial court determined plaintiff could not state a claim for breach of a fiduciary relationship because no such relationship existed between him and the County. Even if a fiduciary relationship existed, plaintiff did not allege any breach or any damages arising from a breach. The court also found plaintiff could not state a claim for conversion. He did not allege the County committed a wrongful act in withholding the excess proceeds or that it interfered with his possession of the proceeds. After the Court of Appeal concurred with the trial court and affirmed its judgment. View "Hodges v. County of Placer" on Justia Law

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The “Hillside Residential” designation in the Richmond General Plan 2030 included single-family housing and clustered multifamily residential on developable parcels below the 400-foot elevation with a density of up to five dwelling units per acre. The Initiative was filed in 2016. Pursuant to Elections Code 9215, the city adopted the initiative without alteration. The Initiative limited development and land use in the “Initiative Area," (38 parcels), prohibiting all residential development. The minimum parcel size is 20 acres; the maximum floor area for all buildings in a parcel is 10,000 square feet; and, if residences and residential accessory buildings are permitted, they may not exceed 5,000 square feet of the 10,000 square-foot maximum. The initiative provided that if a court found the "prohibition on residential use constitutes a taking," one single-family home may be built on each parcel (20 acres). The initiative included specific general plan amendments, "to avoid inconsistency with state housing law” and reduced the city’s developable land for residential and mixed-use development from 228 acres to 148 acres. Landowners sued. The trial court concluded the initiative was inconsistent with the general plan and could not be given effect. The court of appeal agreed that the initiative caused the general plan to become impermissibly inconsistent but disagreed as to the appropriate remedy. The court directed the trial court to order the city to cure the inconsistency. View "Denham, LLC v. City of Richmond" on Justia Law

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Family Code section 2034, subdivision (c) permits a family law court to reduce or limit a Family Law Attorney's Real Property Lien (FLARPL) after the lien is recorded. The Court of Appeal affirmed a pretrial discretionary order limiting husband's $250,000 pendente lite lien for attorney fees in a marital dissolution action. The court held that the plain language of section 2034, subdivision (c) does not impose any timing requirement or otherwise limit the trial court's ability to revisit the propriety of a FLARPL. The court rejected the argument that section 2033, which addresses the ex parte objection procedure before a FLARPL is recorded, restricts the trial court's discretion to limit the amount of a FLARPL after it is recorded. View "Bittenson v. Bittenson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the California Coastal Commission's permit condition, which requires a certain construction set back, for the remodel of their beachside residence. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of plaintiffs' petition for writ of administrative mandate, holding that substantial evidence supported the commission's determination that the remodel would have an adverse impact on the public's access to the beach. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies on their unconstitutional taking argument. View "Greene v. California Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Pennymac and others for wrongful foreclosure, alleging that the assignment of his mortgage to Pennymac was invalid. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's decision to sustain the defense demurrer because plaintiff failed to allege facts supporting his claim. In this case, plaintiff's complaint seemed to suggest that a borrower, by refusing to pay, can prevent a lender from assigning the debt. The court held that plaintiff failed to give a logical basis for this strange suggestion. Furthermore, plaintiff's remaining causes of action also failed. View "Myles v. Pennymac Loan Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The 86-acre Knights Valley parcel in rural Sonoma County is zoned “Land Extensive Agriculture,” which allows wineries and tasting rooms as conditional uses. The project is a two-story, 5,500-square-foot winery building with a 17,500-square-foot wine cave, wastewater treatment, water storage facilities, fire protection facilities, and mechanical areas, covering approximately 2.4 acres. The site contains two residences and 46 acres of vineyards. The nearby area is primarily vineyards. County staff reviewed reports considering impacts on geology, groundwater, wastewater, and biological resources, and concluded that, with recommended mitigation, the project would not have a significant effect on the environment. The county approved the use permit with conditions and adopted a mitigated negative declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code 21000) and a mitigation monitoring program. The court of appeal upheld the approval. Opponents did not provide evidence that the project is reasonably likely to cause landslides or otherwise generate environmentally harmful releases of debris; that erosion from the project, particularly runoff from the cave spoils, will cause significant effects on Bidwell Creek and degrade the habitat for salmonids; or that the project’s groundwater use will significantly affect salmonids, groundwater supply in neighboring wells, and fire suppression. There was no substantial evidence that the winery will have a significant aesthetic impact or that there is a reasonable possibility the project, as conditioned, will significantly increase the risk of wildfires. View "Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff argued that the Housing Authority abused its discretion in terminating her participation in the Section 8 Housing Program in the absence of any fraud, and that the Housing Authority did not have the discretion to terminate plaintiff's participation in the Program based on a misreport. The Court of Appeal held that the Housing Authority may not terminate a participant from the Program for an immaterial misreport, but that a false answer to a question about marital status did not fall within that category. The court affirmed the trial court's finding that plaintiff's false statements support her termination from the Program even in the absence of fraudulent intent, and affirmed the trial court's judgment finding that adequate grounds existed to terminate plaintiff from the Program. The court directed the trial court to remand the case to the Housing Authority to consider whether to exercise its discretion to take into account other circumstances in determining the appropriate remedy for plaintiff's violations. View "Crooks v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the judgment arising from Yolanda's Inc.'s action against its landlord. In this case, a shopping center lease contains a provision limiting the lessor's liability for breach of the lease to the lessor's interest in the shopping center. Yolanda's is the lessee and it obtained a judgment against its lessor, a limited partnership. The trial court denied Yolanda's motion to amend the judgment to add the general partner of the limited partner lessor as a judgment debtor. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that, by virtue of a foreclosure, the lease was assigned to the foreclosing lender; the assignment terminated the lessor's rights under the lease; and the termination of the lessor's rights also terminated the rights of the third party beneficiary general partner. View "Gietzen v. Covenant RE Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Andrijana Mackovska filed suit alleging that Viewcrest wrongfully removed their personal belongings and took possession of residential property Viewcrest had purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court held that plaintiff waived his right to a jury trial by failing to timely post jury fees. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the trial court erred in denying plaintiff's motion for relief from the jury trial waiver, because Viewcrest did not make a showing of prejudice; plaintiff's failure to file a petition for writ of mandate after the trial court denied his motion for relief from jury trial waiver did not preclude review of that order on appeal from the judgment; plaintiff did not have to show prejudice; and the trial court's order imposing sanctions must be vacated. View "Mackovksa v. Viewcrest Road Properties LLC" on Justia Law