EHOF LAKESIDE II LLC v. RIVERSIDE COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION (2020)
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
EHOF LAKESIDE II, LLC, a Delaware limited liability corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. RIVERSIDE COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION; County of Riverside; Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, Defendants-Appellees.
Decided: October 22, 2020
Before: GRABER and W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judges, and KOBAYASHI,* District Judge.
Kenneth Erik Friess, Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP, Irvine, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant Scott W. Ditfurth, Attorney, Kendall MacVey, Attorney, Best Best & Krieger LLP, Riverside, CA, Gregg Kettles, South Pasadena, CA, for Defendants-Appellees Riverside County Transportation Commission, Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority Melissa Renee Cushman, Deputy County Counsel, Office of the County Counsel, Riverside, CA, for Defendant-Appellee County of Riverside
EHOF Lakeside II, LLC (“EHOF”) appeals from the district court's grant of a Pullman abstention pending the resolution of EHOF's earlier-filed state lawsuit. See R.R. Comm'n of Tex. v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496, 61 S.Ct. 643, 85 L.Ed. 971 (1941). Pullman abstention orders are immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291, 1292(a)(1), and we affirm. See Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 489 (9th Cir. 2003).
EHOF claims that Riverside County Transportation Commission, Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (“RCA”), and the County of Riverside (collectively, “Defendants”) have taken its land without compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment. EHOF asserts that Defendants used the county's Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (“MSHCP”) to delay its project's building entitlements in order to coerce EHOF into selling its property to RCA for conservation. Now that EHOF has requested to sell to RCA, it alleges that RCA is delaying an offer because it lacks the funds to purchase the land. After first bringing an inverse condemnation and other claims in state court, EHOF filed this claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in federal district court.
We agree with the district court that all three requirements for a Pullman abstention are satisfied here. See C-Y Dev. Co. v. City of Redlands, 703 F.2d 375, 377 (9th Cir. 1983). First, this dispute involves land use, a sensitive area of state law. Id.; Pearl Inv. Co. v. City and Cnty. of San Francisco, 774 F.2d 1460, 1463 (9th Cir. 1985). Second, resolution of the disputed state-law question—whether the MSHCP requires payment in the current situation—could moot or significantly alter the federal takings claim. See Kollsman v. City of Los Angeles, 737 F.2d 830, 833 (9th Cir. 1984). Third, the state-law question has not been resolved by California courts and is undecided for purposes of Pullman. See Pearl, 774 F.2d at 1465.
EHOF chose to file its state-court inverse condemnation suit shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Knick v. Township of Scott, ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 2162, 204 L.Ed.2d 558 (2019). In this circumstance, we need not decide the precise scope of Pullman in the post-Knick world.
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