Tag Archive for: real estate

How Environmental Regulations Can Affect Property Owners in California

Environmental regulations are aimed to preserve ecosystems and improve the quality of the environment, including wildlife. The management of natural resources by the state government and the related environmental regulations can have a significant impact on ranchers, loggers, farmers, and property owners in California.

Impact of Environmental Regulations on Property Prices

Stringent environmental regulations are often imposed on the suppliers of housing and other property. This makes it possible for these laws to have a substantial impact on the housing market. The extent of the overall impact is measurable in terms of the changes in the number of houses available for sale and the property prices.

Environmental laws primarily impact the supply of land, which is a chief input for property development. Some regulations can change the price of lumber and other inputs as well. In this way, the regulatory regime has a major impact on the supply of housing. Prices of property will naturally go up if it takes more time to build housing units. The same holds true if environmental laws increase the likelihood of litigation faced by housing developers.

On the other hand, if environmental regulations are effective, they can improve the quality of the land and its surroundings, giving impetus to property prices and demand. This is particularly true in the case of residential properties.

NIMBY and Anti-Development Quagmire

There is a rise in California’s rental and housing markets. This is particularly true in the Silicon Valley Bay Area, which is the state’s economic engine. With many Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) backlashes, local elected officials and housing advocates are scurrying to find affordable solutions. There is a severe housing supply-demand mismatch because of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.)

Using political pressure and misinformation, housing communities across the Golden State have successfully managed to prevent numerous new development projects. Property owners routinely use the CEQA as an onerous public policy intimidation tool. NIMBYism opposes the development of new projects near one’s own property.

Everything from social noise to developing brownfields is used as an excuse to prevent a new property from getting developed. This has become a huge problem for local governments since it typically forces them to approve non-comprehensive, inefficient, and ad hoc development plans.

All residential property owners are not against development. However, it is still prudent for developers to speak with a skilled local real estate attorney before starting any new projects. NIMBY property owners demand slow growth focusing on the intrinsic feel of the neighborhood and preserving its culture. It flatly opposes any large government or development projects.

Misuse of CEQA by Property Owners

The California Environmental Quality Act was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1970 for protecting the natural environment in the development of both private and public projects. Unfortunately, it is routinely misused for stopping or delaying housing construction.

Anti-housing residential property owners in affluent communities use CEQA to block multi-family and high-density projects. They argue that such projects would alter their neighborhood’s bucolic ambiance. Construction unions routinely extract wage concessions from property developers by misusing CEQA.

Legislators and governors routinely grant CEQA exemptions in the absence of comprehensive reforms for particular projects. This is usually the case for narrow categories of housing or sports arenas. There is an increase in CEQA misuse with courts becoming a battleground over its application.

How Can Property Developers Make the Process Smooth

CEQA should not be treated as a direct land use or zoning regulation. There are no explicit restrictions placed on the development. However, the California Environmental Quality Act has become a major obstacle for property owners, developers, and businesses.

Environmental impact assessments are usually time-consuming and costly. Development can quickly grind to a halt during litigation if a lawsuit gets filed during the process. Developers should ideally do the following to make the process smooth:

  • Ensure the administrative record is strong. This will help in dissuading and defending against potential judicial challenges.
  • Get involved in the preparation and review of environmental documents (as much as the city allows). This will ensure that the records are accurate and complete.
  • Get your project approved faster with recent and developing legislation. This will provide you with better opportunities and standards from a planning perspective. It may also allow for a less rigorous CEQA review.

You should develop a plan for addressing potential environmental challenges before starting any major real estate project. An experienced land use and zoning attorney in California can help you navigate the multiple regulations.

There are several requirements from a CEQA perspective that property developers need to satisfy. In addition, there are also local regulations and planning and zoning laws that can make the task challenging.

Talk to a Skilled and Knowledgeable Real Estate Attorney – Book Your Consultation Today

The attorneys at Peterson, Martin & Reynolds LLP have a history of providing the right advice and solid legal representation to clients and achieving successful outcomes. To request your consultation, call us at (415) 399-2900 or complete this online form.


Understanding Real Estate Legal Matters Within Trust Administration

Many estate and trust disputes in California involve the allocation of real property or real estate among multiple beneficiaries. A trustee usually has the discretion to sell real estate and distribute the proceeds to all beneficiaries in equal shares. They may also allocate the property to one or more beneficiaries if there are no objections to the proposed distribution. But without an experienced real estate attorney on your side, trust and probate administration may hit a litigious wall.

Allocation of Assets

If a real estate parcel gets distributed on a pro-rata basis among two siblings, both will get 50% undivided interest in the property if they have an equal remainder share through the trust. This is commonly treated as a tenant in common. In the case of a pure pro-rata distribution of assets, both siblings would get equal interest in the real assets distributed through the trust. Any administrative expenses would be paid first though.

A pro-rata distribution can be rife with conflict. Tenants in common share an equal right to property but may not be able to allocate the use. For instance, which sibling gets Christmas week?

Non-pro rata distribution is the other form of asset allocation. The beneficiaries will receive a proportional share in the total value of assets instead of getting an equal interest.

The sibling that wants the real estate may receive it and the other sibling may get its corresponding value without asset co-ownership. As per California Probate Code section 16246, trustees can choose the manner in which they distribute assets.

Dealing With Divided Interest in Property

The property can transfer to more than a single beneficiary with equal interests in the property. This may seem fair to the transferring party but can give rise to several litigation issues. Problems can quickly arise when the beneficiaries fail to see eye to eye on the disposal of the property. The true owner of the property is not apparent in these cases since everyone owns an equal share.

For instance, if three siblings inherit the family house with only one sibling wanting to sell, they may file a partition action. This is usually when the other two siblings either don’t want to sell their shares or don’t have the money to purchase the third sibling’s share. The third sibling can move the court for forcing the sale of the property to cash out their interest.

Title Transfer Not Made to the Trust

In some cases, a parent will not transfer the title to the trust. Instead, they may transfer the title to a property to one of the children as joint tenants with survivorship rights to avoid probate. In this case, a big problem may arise if there is a trust stating that the property needs to be transferred to all children equally.

The child that has their name on the title as a joint tenant may not want to share the property and may argue that the property was a gift outside the trust. The matter will be tried to be resolved informally through negotiations or mediation among the parties. If no resolution is reached, the trustee or executor asserting the right to property in the name of the trust will need to file an 850 petition in probate court.

This is to have the property transferred back to the trust and redistributed as per the terms of the trust documents among all children. Such matters can become full-blown lawsuits requiring discovery and a trial to determine rightful owners. The action is usually taken by a trustee for protecting the estate assets and bringing them back into the estate.

Estate litigation can become costly, and the trustee usually has the benefit of using estate assets for pursuing a lawsuit. In case the matter remains unresolved and leads to a lengthy lawsuit, the use of assets by the trustee will leave less money in the estate to be distributed. If the problem is not resolved early on, it can become a lose-lose situation for all involved parties.

Real Estate Inheritance Attorneys Can Resolve Legal Issues

Real estate distribution is not always seamless among family members. Inheritance disputes usually revolve around the allocation of property and money. These are a few common issues that an inheritance attorney may work to resolve:

  • Perceived inequity of allocation: Significant changes right before an individual’s death can be a concern. The same holds true for massively different inheritances among the beneficiaries.
  • Wrongful acts: Beneficiaries can always raise doubts about undue influence surrounding the trust.
  • Intention: An experienced real estate inheritance dispute attorney can assess the intentions of the deceased and present it to the court to ensure your loved one’s wishes are honored.

Talk to a Skilled and Knowledgeable Real Estate Attorney Today

At Peterson, Martin & Reynolds LLP, our attorneys have decades of combined experience in working with family members within the court systems to obtain the inheritance they deserve. We are dedicated to helping you receive fair treatment.

Call us at (415) 399-2900 or reach us online for a free case evaluation.