In 1986, Lucas paid $975k for two residential lots 300 feet from the beach.
In 1988, however, the SC legislature passed the Beachfront Management Act which barred Lucas from erecting any permanent habitable structures on his land and rendered the land valueless.
Lucas brought suit claiming that the law effected a taking of his property without just compensation.
Trial court found for Lucas.
SC Supreme Court reversed, no taking.
SCOTUS reversed and remanded.
When does a regulatory action constitute a taking?
There are two discrete categories of regulatory action which constitute a taking…
Regulations that compel the property owner to suffer a physical invasion of his property, no matter how minute the intrusion, and no matter how weighty the public purpose behind it.
Regulations that deny all economically beneficial or productive use of the land.
The 5th amendment is violated when land-use regulations do not substantially advance legitimate state interests or deny an owner economically viable use of his land.
The total deprivation of beneficial use is the equivalent of a physical appropriation.
Indeed, regulations that leave the owner of land without economically beneficial options for its use carry with then a heightened risk that private property is being pressed into some form of public service under the guise of mitigating serious public harm.
SC's purpose in this statute was to stop the erosion of beaches. SC believes that the regulation keeps Lucas from using his land for a noxious purpose.
Many previous decisions have suggested that harmful or noxious uses of property may be proscribed by gov't regulation without the requirement of compensation.
However, this use of taking may only be used in situations where a private actor could use nuisance law to keep the landowner from committing the noxious act.
Where the state seeks to sustain regulation that deprives land of all economically beneficial use, it may resist compensation only if the proscribed use was not part of his title to begin with.