San Diego Gas & Elec. Co. v. City of San Diego
450 U.S. 621 (1981)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

San Diego Gas & Elec. Co. v. City of San Diego, 450 U.S. 621 (1981)

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. v. City of San Diego

No. 79-678.

Argued December 1, 1980

Decided March 24, 1981

450 U.S. 621

Syllabus

Appellant owns land in appellee city that, when purchased as a possible site for a nuclear power plant, was mostly zoned for industrial or agricultural use. The city rezoned parts of the property, reducing the acreage for industrial use, and also established an open-space plan that included appellant's property and proposed that the city acquire the property to preserve it as a parkland. A bond issue to provide funds for this acquisition was not approved by the voters, and the property remained in appellant's hands, subject to the new zoning ordinance and the open-space plan. Thereafter, appellant brought an action in California Superior Court, alleging that the city had taken its property without just compensation in violation of the Federal and State Constitutions on the theory that the city had deprived it of the beneficial use of the property through the rezoning and adoption of the open-space plan. Appellant sought damages for inverse condemnation, as well as mandamus and declaratory relief. The Superior Court awarded damages but dismissed the mandamus claim, and the California Court of Appeal affirmed. The California Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeal's judgment and retransferred the case to that court for reconsideration in light of the intervening holding in Agins v. City of Tiburon, 24 Cal.3d 266, 598 P.2d 25, aff'd on other grounds,447 U. S. 447 U.S. 255, that an owner deprived of the beneficial use of his land by a zoning regulation is not entitled to damages for inverse condemnation, but that his exclusive remedy is invalidation of the regulation in an action for mandamus or declaratory relief. On reconsideration, the Court of Appeal then reversed the Superior Court's judgment, holding that appellant could not recover compensation through inverse condemnation and that, because the record presented factual disputes not covered by the trial court, mandamus and declaratory relief would be available if appellant desired to retry the case. The California Supreme Court denied further review. Appellant appealed to this Court, claiming that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments required that compensation be paid whenever private property is taken for public use.

Held: Since 28 U.S.C. § 1257 permits this Court to review only "[f]inal

Page 450 U. S. 622

judgments or decrees" of a state court, the appeal must be dismissed because of the absence of a final judgment. While the Court of Appeal decided that monetary compensation is not an appropriate remedy, it did not decide whether any other remedy is available, because it has not decided whether any taking, in fact, occurred, but appeared to have contemplated further proceedings in the trial court on remand to resolve the disputed factual issues. Pp. 450 U. S. 631-633.

Appeal dismissed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 450 U. S. 633. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEWART, MARSHALL, and POWELL, JJ., joined, post, p. 450 U. S. 636.

Page 450 U. S. 623

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