Pelican Files Brief in California Property Rights Case

Pelican Files Brief in California Property Rights Case

What if the government forced you to rent out property you own to a virtual stranger for his or her lifetime?

The Pelican Institute’s Center for Justice recently filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Peyman Pakdel’s petition for rehearing en banc pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuit implicates the 5th Amendment’s protection against a government’s uncompensated taking of private property.

Mr. Pakdel is a small business owner in Ohio who dreams of retiring to San Francisco. To make this dream a reality, he purchased an interest in a tenancy in common property in 2009 and rented it to a tenant. Mr. Pakdel and his co-owners agreed at the time of the purchase that they would eventually convert the units into condos.

In 2013, the City of San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring property owners who convert tenancy in common units into condos to first offer a lifetime lease to an existing tenant. Mr. Pakdel offered his tenant a buyout, but the parties could not agree to a reasonable amount. Rather than looking forward to his retirement in San Francisco, Mr. Pakdel is now a landlord for a tenant who seems to have snagged the lease of a lifetime in the country’s most expensive housing market.

Attorneys at Pacific Legal Foundation filed suit on behalf of Mr. Pakdel to challenge San Francisco’s lifetime lease law. The law violates Mr. Pakdel’s 5th Amendment right to his property, his 5th and 14th Amendment rights to privacy in his home, and his 4th Amendment right against unreasonable seizure. The District Court judge granted defendants’ motions to dismiss, and the 9th Circuit affirmed. Mr. Pakdel requests that the full panel of 9th Circuit judges reconsider.

The Pelican Center for Justice’s amicus curiae brief in support of Mr. Pakdel’s petition focuses on the importance of the availability of federal courts to hear takings cases, rather than leaving plaintiffs like the Pakdels to defend their constitutional rights before a possibly biased state tribunal.

In the landmark decision of Patsy v. Board of Regents of the State of Florida, Justice Marshall wrote that the legislative history of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 demonstrates that Congress intended to “throw open the doors of the United States Courts” and provide immediate access to people like Mr. Pakdel whose constitutional rights were threatened or violated.

Historically, takings claimants were forced to jump through more procedural hoops to have their cases heard in federal courts than claimants asserting violations of other Bill of Rights protections. The 5th Amendment is as much a part of the Bill of Rights as the First or Fourth Amendments, and as such, Mr. Pakdel should have his day before an impartial tribunal.

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