Monday, April 2, 2007

Court Date Set in Casitas vs. U.S.

By Daryl Kelley
A federal judge weakened a Casitas Municipal Water District lawsuit on Monday, ruling that a constitutional property right was not involved when the federal government required Casitas to provide water without compensation so the endangered steelhead trout could migrate up the Ventura River.

Judge John Wiese, of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, ruled that the Casitas claim will be considered under federal law that deals with the government's simple regulatory constraint of water use, and not as a permanent “physical taking” of private property.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that the government pay just compensation for property seized through its imminent domain powers, as when land is confiscated for construction of a freeway or a school. But federal government lawyers argued that the taking of water to protect an endangered species was not the seizure of property, but simply a restriction on water use for the common good.

A 2001 case on the same issue before the same judge resulted in a federal payout of almost $17 million to a water district in the Central Valley. But since then, a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a moratorium on development at Lake Tahoe has admonished judges “that only the government's active hand in the redirection of a property's use may be treated as a per se (property) taking.”
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A complete waste of money and time vested in an ill advised enterprise of suing for something that was obvious to most of us as wrong.

That money could have gone into Lake Casitas improvements.