39 Cal.3d 256, 31930, Griffin Development Co. v. City of Oxnard

Docket Nº:31930
Citation:39 Cal.3d 256, 217 Cal.Rptr. 1, 703 P.2d 339
Opinion Judge:[11] Kaus
Party Name:Griffin Development Co. v. City of Oxnard
Attorney:[7] Cohen, England, Whitfield & Osborne, Cohen, England & Whitfield, Stanley E. Cohen and Stuart A. Comis for Plaintiff and Appellant. [8] K. D. Lyders, City Attorney, for Defendants and Respondents. [9] John K. Van de Kamp, Attorney General, N. Gregory Taylor, Theodora Berger, Assistant Attorney...
Case Date:August 01, 1985
Court:Supreme Court of California

Page 256

39 Cal.3d 256

217 Cal.Rptr. 1, 703 P.2d 339



CITY OF OXNARD et al., Defendants and Respondents.

L.A. 31930.

Supreme Court of California

Aug. 1, 1985.

In Bank

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Stanley E. Cohen, Cohen, England, Whitfield & Osborne, Oxnard, for plaintiff and appellant.

K.D. Lyders, City Atty., Oxnard, for defendants and respondents.

KAUS, Justice.

Appellant, developer and owner of an apartment complex in the City of Oxnard, appeals from a judgment upholding the city's denial of a special use permit for the conversion of the apartments to condominium units. The primary issue is whether a city may--consistent with the requirements of due process--regulate the conversion of apartments to condominiums. If it may, did the city's application of its condominium conversion ordinance result in a "taking" of appellant's property?

We conclude that the ordinance before us is reasonably related to the accomplishment of a legitimate governmental objective within the scope of the city's police power and that denial of the special use permit was not an unconstitutional taking of appellant's property. We will affirm the judgment denying appellant's petition for writ of mandate.

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In 1979, appellant Griffin Development Company (Griffin) completed construction of a 72-unit apartment complex in the City of Oxnard. When built, the complex complied with all city standards applicable to apartments and condominium projects. Such projects were not then subject to special standards. In 1980, the city adopted new standards applicable to new condominium projects. Through ordinance and resolution, the city applied these new standards to condominium conversions as well. The regulations require a special use permit from the city as a prerequisite to conversion; one wishing to convert apartments to condominiums must meet certain mandatory standards and "substantially conform" to the city's advisory standards. 1 Essentially, condominium conversions are subject to standards which apply to the construction of new condominium projects. The conversion regulations are not part of a comprehensive rent control scheme; rental housing in Oxnard is not subject to rent control.

The advisory standards incorporated into the ordinance are set forth in Resolution No. 7658, which applies to new condominiums as well as condominium conversions. The resolution requires, inter alia, that (1) a housing unit shall contain not less than two separate bedrooms; (2) a housing unit shall not be smaller than 1,000 square feet; (3) each unit shall contain adequate space for a washer, dryer, and water heater; (4) parking shall be provided at a ratio of two spaces in a garage per dwelling unit, such parking to be located no further than 50 feet from the unit served; (5) visitor parking shall be required at a ratio of one space per dwelling unit, such parking to be located no further than 100 feet from any unit; (6) major entrances to residences shall be separated from entrances of adjacent units; and (7) a private storage area shall be provided each residence. Requirements (4) and (5) are made mandatory by a provision in Oxnard Municipal Code section 34-226 to the effect that "no apartment building which is a non-conforming use or non-conforming structure because of parking ... shall be eligible for conversion."

Underlying these standards--which are more severe than those applicable to apartment structures--was the city's conclusion that apartments and owner-occupied condominiums serve two distinct segments of the population,

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each with its own needs (e.g., parking requirements) and each imposing a different type of burden on the surrounding community. According to the city's planning director, condominium conversions alter the social matrix of the community, which, in turn, affects the community's growth pattern and need for services. In addition, the city was concerned about the possibility that such conversions would result in a diminution in the supply of available rental units.

Griffin applied for a special use permit to convert its apartment complex to condominiums. It is undisputed that the complex did not conform to the mandatory parking requirements and to five of the advisory standards. Because of this failure to satisfy the requirements for condominium conversion, the city denied Griffin's application, refusing to grant a special use permit, variance, and tentative subdivision map.

Griffin then petitioned for a writ of mandate to compel the city to allow the proposed conversion. There were no disputed issues of fact. The trial court concluded that the city has the authority to regulate condominium conversions and that the applicable regulations--including the requirement of a special use permit--are a valid exercise of that authority. It also concluded that the regulations were fairly applied to Griffin, did not deprive it of its constitutional rights, and are not preempted by the Subdivision Map Act (Gov.Code, § 66410 et seq.).

On appeal, Griffin contends that the regulations are preempted by state law; that the city lacks authority to regulate condominium conversions; and that the regulations effect a confiscatory "taking" of property.


Griffin claims that the state Subdivision Map Act (Gov.Code, § 66410 et seq., hereafter Map Act) preempts the city's condominium conversion ordinance. We disagree.

The state Constitution confers upon all cities and counties the power to "make and enforce within [their] limits all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws." (Italics added.) (Cal. Const., art. XI, § 7. See Santa Monica Pines, Ltd. v. Rent Control Board (1984) 35 Cal.3d 858, 868, 201 Cal.Rptr. 593.) Local agencies may, therefore, adopt regulations involving matters covered by the Map Act, as long as they are not inconsistent with it. (Friends of Lake Arrowhead v. Board of Supervisors (1974) 38 Cal.App.3d 497, 505, 113 Cal.Rptr. 539.) Certain provisions of the Map Act do, of course, pertain to condominium conversions. Section 66424, for example,

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includes condominium projects within its definition of "subdivision." Tentative and final subdivision maps are required for conversion of five or more units under section 66426. Section 66427 limits the power of local government to disapprove tentative or final maps on the basis of the design or location of the units, absent an ordinance.

In any event, the city's condominium conversion ordinance in no way conflicts with these or other relevant provisions of the Map Act. Nor does the Map Act itself evince a legislative intent to occupy the entire field of condominium conversion regulation. Indeed, as we noted in Santa Monica Pines, Ltd., supra, 35 Cal.3d at page 869, 201 Cal.Rptr. 593, it affirmatively recognizes the power of municipalities to regulate condominium conversions by local ordinance. (See, e.g., Gov.Code, § 66427.2 ["this section shall not diminish, limit or expand, other than as provided herein, the authority of any city, county, or city and county to approve or disapprove condominium projects"].) 2

As evidenced by provisions of the Map Act itself, local governments may adopt nonconflicting condominium conversion regulations. Like the regulation at issue in Santa Monica Pines, Ltd., 3 Oxnard's regulations do not conflict with the policies or provisions of the Map Act. Accordingly, we hold that they are not preempted by state law.


Griffin challenges the authority of the city to regulate condominium conversions and, in particular, its power to require a special use permit to convert apartments to condominium units. Its underlying argument is simply that such a conversion involves no "change in use" but, rather, a mere change in the form of ownership. Where there is no "contemplated change

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in use," according to appellant, the city's requirement of a special use permit amounts to a violation of due process. 4

Properly framed, the question raised is whether regulation of condominium conversions (which may or may not involve structural alterations) is consistent with the requirements of due process. In Birkenfeld v. City of Berkeley (1976) 17 Cal.3d 129, 130 Cal.Rptr. 465, we restated the basic due process limitations on regulations affecting property interests: " 'So far as the requirement of due process is concerned, and in the absence of other constitutional restriction, a state is free to adopt whatever economic policy may be reasonably deemed to promote public welfare, and to enforce that policy by legislation adapted to its purpose. The courts are without authority either to declare such policy, or, when it is declared by the legislature, to override it.' " (17 Cal.3d at p. 155, 130 Cal.Rptr. 465, quoting Nebbia v. New York (1934) 291 U.S. 502, 537, 54 S.Ct. 505, 516, 78 L.Ed. 940, 957, 89 A.L.R. 1469.)

The vast majority of cities and counties in California has adopted comprehensive schemes of land use regulation. Except where such regulations have infringed upon fundamental constitutional rights or relied on suspect classifications such as race, they have generally been upheld in the face of due process and equal protection challenges. Against this background, California courts have consistently treated condominium conversion regulation as a legitimate exercise of the police power. (E.g., Santa Monica Pines, Ltd., supra, 35 Cal.3d 858, 201 Cal.Rptr. 593 [condominium conversion regulations upheld as part of city's rent control law]; Kalaydjian v. City of Los Angeles (1983) 149 Cal.App.3d 690, 197 Cal.Rptr. 149 [ordinance requiring landlords who convert...

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