Yamagiwa v. City of Half Moon Bay

Citation523 F.Supp.2d 1036
Decision Date28 November 2007
Docket NumberNo. C 05-4149 VRW.,C 05-4149 VRW.
PartiesJoyce YAMAGIWA, Trustee of the Trust Created Under Trust Agreement Dated January 30, 1980 by Charles J. Keenan, III and Anne Marie Kennan, for the Benefit of Charles J. Keenan IV, as to an Undivided 50% Interest, and Trustee of the Trust Created Under Trust Agreement Dated January 30, 1980, by Charles J. Keenan III and Anne Marie Keenan for the Benefit of Ann Marie Keenan, as to an Undivided 50% Interest, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF HALF MOON BAY, Coastside County Water District and Does 1-50, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of California

Anne Evelyn Mudge, Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, San Francisco, CA, Edward G. Burg, Kathrin Andrea Wanner, Kisu Lam, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff.

David S. Skinner, Adam Uriah Lindgren, Amrit Satish Kulkarni, Edward Grutzmacher, Meyers Nave Riback Silver & Wilson, Rick W. Jarvis, Benjamin P. Fay, Jarvis & Fay & Doporto, LLP, Leah Castella, McDonough Holland & Allen PC, Oakland, CA, for Defendants.


VAUGHN R. WALKER, Chief Judge.

Joyce Yamagiwa ("Yamagiwa"), brought this action alleging that defendant City of Half Moon Bay ("City") damaged certain real property that she holds in trust. Doc. # 1-2. The property, known as the Beachwood Property, is located in the City of Half Moon Bay at Assessor's Parcel No. 048-280-020. Id. Yamagiwa brought a federal claim for inverse condemnation and pendent state claims for inverse condemnation, nuisance, trespass and recovery of amounts paid to finance public improvements. Id.

This case was tried before the court without a jury on June 6, 7 and July 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11 and 12. Doc. ## 173-175, 177, 179, 181, 186-188. The court heard testimony from 22 witnesses, including seven expert witnesses, and received into evidence nearly 300 exhibits. The court now makes its findings of fact and conclusions of law:


The Beachwood Property

1. This case involves a 24.7-acre undeveloped parcel of property located in the City of Half Moon Bay, known as Beachwood ("Beachwood," or "the Property"). (Ex. 556.) Both sides agree that there are substantial wetlands on the Property. The principle disputed issue is what caused the wetlands to develop and, more specifically, whether a public project constructed by the City was a substantial cause of the development of Beachwood's wetlands.

2. Beachwood is located on the east (i e, inland) side of Highway 1, north of Highway 92.1 The Property is roughly rectangular in shape. Its northern border is 1837 feet long, and its western frontage along Highway 1 is 576 feet. (Ex. 75, at 9900122.)

3. To the north of Beachwood lies an undeveloped parcel of property known as Glencree. To the north of Glencree lies a partially developed subdivision known as Grandview Terrace ("Grandview"). (Ex. 425.)

4. To the south of Beachwood lies residentially developed property known as the Newport Terrace/Highland Park subdivision ("Highland Park"). Highland Park contains three streets running east/west: Terrace Avenue is the northernmost street; Silver Avenue is the middle street; and Highland Avenue is the southernmost street. Golden Gate Avenue runs north/south and connects Terrace, Silver and Highland. It starts at Highland and dead-ends at Beachwood's southern border. (Ex. 425.)

5. Beginning in 1983, as discussed in detail below, the City of Half Moon Bay constructed a public improvement on and nearby the Property. The project was known as the Terrace Avenue Assessment District ("TAAD").

Pre-TAAD Topography of Beachwood

6. The pre-TAAD topography on Beachwood is depicted on Exs. 122 and 426 (the latter being a copy of Ex. 122 with the topographic lines shown in alternating colors for emphasis). Ex. 559 is another topographic map depicting Beachwood and surrounding properties in the pre-TAAD condition.

7. Each of these pre-TAAD topographic maps display 1-foot contour intervals on Beachwood as of October 1976. (White 394:8-13.) A 1-foot contour interval topographic map is a very detailed map, showing all points of equal elevation at one foot intervals. (Weirich, 806:16-24; Huffman, 1510:6-14; Coats, 1325:14-23.) A 1-foot contour interval topographic map is a design-level map that allows an engineer to design the subdivision and calculate quantities of dirt that need to be cut or filled on the property. (White, 324:24-325:12; 392:8-15.)

8. Topographic maps indicate mounds or depressions on the land by closed-loop polygons. Such closed-loop polygons show that the land inside the loop is either higher than the polygon border (hence, a mound) or lower than the polygon border (hence, a depression). When a closed-loop polygon has hachures or tick-marks on the inside of the polygon, this means that the area inside the closed loop is a depression. (White, 394:4-7; Weirich, 861:8-22.) This rule of topographic mapping is sometimes called "The Rule of O's." (Huffman, 1509:17-1510:5.)

9. The detailed pre-TAAD topographic map of Beachwood reflects no closed-loop depressions on the Beachwood Property. (Ex. 122; White, 394:4-19; Weirich, 862:3-5.) The pre-TAAD topographic map does, however, indicate a closed-loop depression on the Glencree property to the north of Beachwood. (Ex. 122, White, 393:15-394:7.) The absence of closed-loop depressions on Beachwood shows that the pre-TAAD topography of the Property lacked any such depressions.

10. Instead, the pre-TAAD topography of Beachwood reflected a gently sloping property, with its highest point (elevation approximately 100 feet above sea level) on the eastern border. The eastern slope of the Property — covering roughly the easterly 1/6th of the land area — descended from the 100' elevation down to approximately 60'. From that point, the elevation descended more gradually to approximately 47'. The lowest point on the Beachwood Property was along its northern boundary with the Glencree property, and the topography on Glencree continued to descend from that point to a low point along Glencree's northern boundary with Grandview, as indicated on Ex. 426. To the west of the low point on Beachwood is a small ridge rising to approximately 50'; and to the west of that ridge, the Property descends to Highway 1 at its eastern border. (Exs. 122, 426, 559; Weirich, 806:13-807:22.)

11. Using the foregoing 1-foot contour topographic maps, Dr. Frank Weirich, plaintiff's expert hydrologist, prepared a digitized, color topographic map of Beachwood in its pre-TAAD condition (Ex. 836). Dr. Weirich also prepared a digitized topographic map depicting the low point along the northern boundary of Beachwood (Exs. 837, 838).

Pre-TAAD Surface Flows Onto and Off of Beachwood

12. Before the TAAD project was built, there were four areas that contributed surface flows onto and off of Beachwood. The first area was direct rainfall that fell onto the Property. (Weirich, 826:12-16; Coats, 1285:1-13.)

13. The other three areas were off-site drainages, or watersheds, located upslope from Beachwood in the hills to the east, that contributed surface run-off to Beachwood in heavy storms. (Weirich, 826:17-827:18; Ex. 828.)

14. The first off-site contributing area was a 132-acre drainage basin located south and southeast of Beachwood. This area was designated Drainage Area A by Dr. Weirich. (Ex. 828, Weirich, 828:18-22.) The second off-site contributing area was a 92-acre drainage basin located southeast of Beachwood. This area was designated Drainage Area B by Dr. Weirich. (Ex. 828, Weirich, 830:4-10.) The third off-site contributing area was a small 7-acre drainage basin located northeast of Beachwood. Dr. Weirich designated this area as Drainage Area C. (Ex. 828, Weirich, 830:11-21.)

15. While there were many disagreements between the experts in this case, there was substantial agreement regarding the pre-TAAD watersheds and the amount of stormwater delivered to Beachwood from the contributing areas. The pre-TAAD drainages mapped by Dr. Weirich (Ex. 828) do not differ materially from those mapped by David Freyer, the City's expert (Ex. 1358). And the average estimated annual water input from direct rainfall and the off-site drainages pre-TAAD did not differ materially as between Dr. Weirich and Dr. Robert Coats, the City's expert hydrologist. (Ex. 1352.)

16. Not all the stormwater that fell on the off-site drainages flowed to Beachwood. The amount of off-site run-off actually delivered to Beachwood pre-TAAD was determined by the amount of rainfall as well as the soil characteristics, vegetation and slope of the drainages. (Weirich, 831:8-832:8.) Pre-TAAD, surface run-off from Drainage Area B that was able to reach Beachwood entered the Property at its southeast corner, where it flowed westerly in a creek along Beachwood's southern boundary. (Weirich, 830:6-10.) Slightly east of the mid-point of Beachwood's southern boundary, run-off from Drainage Area B was joined by surface run-off that was able to reach Beachwood from Drainage Area A, which flowed from the hills to the east and then curved northerly across what is now the Highland Park subdivision. (Weirich, 829:18-830:3; 830:22-831:3.) From the confluence point, the surface run-off from Drainages B and A that was able to reach Beachwood then flowed northwesterly across Beachwood toward its low point on the Beachwood/Glencree border, and then continued to flow northwesterly off the Beachwood Property to the Glencree property. (Ex. 828; Weirich, 831:18-24.)

17. Pre-TAAD, surface run-off from Drainage Area C entered Beachwood near its northeast corner, where it flowed in an undefined path, ultimately working its way to the low point on the Beachwood/Glencree border, and flowing northwesterly off of Beachwood in the same manner as described above. (Weirich, 830:13-21.)

18. Pre-TAAD, the vast majority of the direct rainfall on Beachwood and the run-off from...

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