The Pelican Center for Justice Submits an Amicus Curiae Brief to Uphold Property Rights
Last Spring, we shared the story of Peyman Pakdel, an Ohio small business owner who hoped to one day retire to San Francisco with his wife, Sima Chegini. Mr.Pakdel is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider his case and the Pelican Center for Justice submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of his writ of certiorari.
The Pakdels purchased an interest in a tenancy in common property in 2009 which their fellow co-owners agreed at the time of the purchase to eventually convert the units into condos. The Pakdels then rented their property to a tenant.
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. In accordance with San Francisco law, Mr. Pakdel offered his tenant a buyout, but they could not agree on the price. The tenant will now enjoy the real estate deal of a lifetime, while Mr. Pakdel and his wife lose the opportunity to retire to San Francsico.
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.
Our brief focuses on the importance of the ability 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. The Pelican Institute’s position is supported by the 2019 Supreme Court decision in Knick v. Township of Scott.
The Knick decision partially overturned Williamson County, a Supreme Court ruling that required takings claimants to first seek a remedy in state court before having their case heard in federal court. However, a “ripeness” requirement that takings claimants secure a “final decision” from a relevant decisionmaker remained. In this case, the Ninth Circuit found that the Pakdels did not exhaust administrative procedures available to them through the City of San Francisco before bringing their claim.
Although the Ninth Circuit denied Mr. Pakdel’s petition for rehearing en banc, several judges joined in a dissent to underscore the fact that § 1983 claims are not subject to administrative exhaustion. The dissenters note that this result sets back takings claims to second-class status. We hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will restore takings claimants to equal status with those asserting other constitutional rights.