Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Aftermath of Koontz - An Update and Review of New Scholarship

What's going on with Koontz, you might be wondering? Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt. Dist., 133 S. Ct. 2586 (2013). For readers just joining us, this was the exactions case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for landowners (1) that the Nollan-Dolan exactions test applies even where a permit is denied because an applicant rejects an exaction, and (2) that the Nollan-Dolan exactions test applies to exactions other than real property, such as where a permit applicant is required to pay for work.

For one, scholars are starting to crank out some interesting work on the case and its future effects:
  • In Two Steps Forward for the 'Poor Relation' of Constitutional Law: Koontz, Arkansas Game & Fish, and the Future of the Takings Clause, Prof. Ilya Somin at George Mason describes how Koontz helped property rights enjoy a "modest revival" in the last term of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • In Koontz: The Very Worst Takings Decision Ever?, Professor Echeverria at Vermont, who has never seen a takings decision that he found supportable, discusses why he finds nothing redeeming in Koontz. Exaggerate much?
  • In Fees, Expenditures, and the Takings Clause, Professor Pidot at Denver undertakes a rather strained analysis to find that Koontz's application of the Nollan-Dolan exactions test should only extend those monetary exactions "that require a permit applicant to pay money to the government"(which he calls a fee), but not to "those that require a permit applicant to engage in activities that cost money, but do not transfer money to the government" (which he calls an expenditure). He worries "that much of federal environmental law could become subject to" the Nollan-Dolan exactions test. Even if he is right, which I doubt, is there anything really that wrong with requiring that a permit regulation requiring the expenditure of money to be reasonably related to the purpose of the permit and be roughly proportionate the social harm of the permit?
  • In Exactions Creep, Professors Fennell and Penalver at Chicago present a thoughtful analysis presenting the U.S. Supreme Court's exactions jurisprudence as the Court's attempt to deal with the problem of protecting property from the state with the power of the state. They argue - as I did in my amicus brief supporting the property owners in Koontz - that the Due Process Clause is the best way to balance the concerns of the government with property owners' rights.
  • In Nollan and Dolan and Koontz – Oh My! The Exactions Trilogy Requires Developers to Cover the Full Social Costs of Their Projects, But No More, Christina Martin at the Pacific Legal Foundation, argues just what I have been saying since I first read Koontz: "Koontz, like Nollan and Dolan, recognizes that government may legitimately require landowners to carry their own weight, mitigating their development plans so that they do not impose costs on their community. But government cannot use the permitting process to coerce landowners into giving up more. That simple rule will not end land-use planning or permit negotiations."
Which brings us to the next update. Recall that the U.S. Supreme Court punted Koontz back to the Florida Supreme Court. Well, the Florida Supreme Court just punted the case back to the lower appellate court for further proceedings. The docket shows:
In light of the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, 133 S. Ct. 2586 (2013), this case is hereby remanded to the Fifth District Court of Appeal for further proceedings consistent with that decision.
Looks like the Koontz's long battle continues.