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Morehart v. County of Santa Barbara

California Supreme Court
872 P.2d 143 (1994)


Santa Barbara County and its Board of Supervisors (defendants) amended a zoning ordinance to require a minimum lot size for developing certain land parcels. The ordinance also required undersized parcels to be merged to satisfy density standards. Morehart and others (plaintiffs) applied for a permit to build a residence on an undersized parcel. The county determined that Morehart could have merged the parcel with adjoining parcels and denied the permit. Morehart sued the county, alleging five separate causes of action, including three claims based on preemption. The other two causes of action were for inverse condemnation and damages for violation of civil rights. The trial court ordered the preemption claims to be tried separately and ruled in favor of Morehart. The trial court then entered judgment on Morehart’s preemption claims and filed its statement of decision. The county appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed. The California Supreme Court granted Morehart’s petition for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lucas, C.J.)

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