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Pacific Shores Property Owners Association v. Federal Aviation Administration

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 26, 2013

PACIFIC SHORES PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, et. al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO INTERVENE

PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.

Before the court is the motion of Maxine Curtis, Michael Headley, Earl McGrew, Mimi and Bob Stephens, Northcoast Environmental Center, and Smith River Alliance ("applicants") for leave to intervene as defendants in the above-entitled action. Having read the parties' papers and carefully considered their arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the court hereby GRANTS the motion.

BACKGROUND

On June 19, 2013, petitioners/plaintiffs Pacific Shores Property Owners Association and William A. Ritter ("plaintiffs") filed a petition/complaint against respondents/defendants Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") and Border Coast Regional Airport Authority ("the Authority"). The Authority plans to expand Del Norte County Regional Airport ("the airport"). To offset the expansion's impact on the environment, the Authority plans to acquire undeveloped properties in the Pacific Shores Subdivision ("the subdivision") and keep the properties in a natural state. Plaintiffs own properties in the subdivision and their action relates to the Authority's plan.

The "Petition and Complaint" asserts five causes of action - (1) a claim of violation of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Act, 49 C.F.R. § 24 ("URA"), against the FAA and the Authority;[1] (2) a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 of violation of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and "Civil Rights, " against the Authority; (3) a claim for inverse condemnation damages, against the Authority; (4) a claim of violation of the California Environmental Quality Act, Cal. Govt. Code § 21000, et seq., against the Authority; and (5) a claim of violation of the Constitutional prohibition against private gifts of public money, Cal. Const. Art. XVI, § 6, against the Authority. Plaintiffs seek, among other things, that the court "enjoin any action of the Authority to further acquire private property within the subdivision...." Complaint, ¶ 76.

On October 10, 2013, the FAA moved to dismiss the sole claim against it. On November 21, 2013, the court granted the motion to dismiss with leave to amend.

On October 16, 2013, applicants moved to intervene as defendants, asserting that they all own parcels within the subdivision, and all wish to retain their ability to sell those parcels to the Authority. Applicants seek intervention as of right, or, in the alternative, permissive intervention. The FAA and the Authority filed statements of non-opposition to the motion. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, oppose the motion.

DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 governs intervention. Under Rule 24, there are two methods for intervention - intervention as of right, and permissive intervention. Intervention is permitted as of right either when a federal statue authorizes intervention, or when

the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and the applicant is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant's interest is adequately represented by existing parties.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2).

Intervention as of right involves a four-part test. League of United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson , 131 F.3d 1297, 1302 (9th Cir. 1997). Specifically, an applicant must demonstrate (1) that the application is timely; (2) that the applicant has a "significantly protectable interest" relating to the property or transaction involved in the pending lawsuit; (3) that disposition of the lawsuit may adversely affect the applicant's interest; and (4) that the existing parties do not adequately protect the applicant's interests. Southwest Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Berg , 268 F.3d 810, 817-18 (9th Cir. 2001). While an applicant has the burden to show that all four elements are met, motions to intervene as of right are interpreted broadly in favor of intervention. Prete v. Bradbury , 438 F.3d 949, 954 (9th Cir. 2006).

Where an applicant seeks to intervene without alleging new claims, permissive intervention requires only that the application is timely and the applicant "have a question of law or fact in common" with the underlying action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b); see Freedom from ...


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