Pay for Loss Due to 'No Growth' to Be Debated

If a land owner or developer suffers a loss because of what might be considered "excessive" no-growth policies or government regulation, is he entitled to compensation?

That is one of the questions to be considered March 29-30 at a national conference on affordable housing at UC San Diego.

The question will be debated by Gideon Kanner, professor of law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and Richard R. Babcock, professor of law at Duke University, Durham, N. C.

Under examination will be a Tennessee case now before the U. S. Supreme Court, in which a bank is seeking compensation of $350,000 for loss of value to a property during a development delay caused by a change of governmental policy.

The case, Williamson County Regional Planning Commission vs. Hamilton Bank, involves a development approved for 700 units in 1973. Subsequently a "no growth" city council was elected and, in 1979, the developer was denied permission to build the remaining units and had to turn the property over to Hamilton Bank.

The bank sued the county successfully and won the right to complete the development; it is now suing for loss of value during the interim.

Kanner (who has filed a "friend of the court" brief in the case) has argued that the bank is entitled to the compensation because "government entities are going to have to realize that they must play by the same rules as private citizens."

Babcock has contended history does not support that type of compensation and has predicted long-term implications: "I think we will see many judges go out of their way to not rule against (such) regulations. . . . Most judges don't like to see large cash judgments against local governments."

UC San Diego is host to the conference, which is co-sponsored by the National Assn. of Home Builders and the UC San Diego School of Law.

The university's Extension said a panel of experts from across the country will discuss "many of the nation's most critical and fundamental housing issues, many of which have been addressed by the President's Commission on Housing." Details and registration are available from the university.

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