Multijurisdictionality and Federalism: Assessing San Remo Hotel’s Effect on Regulatory Takings


Regulatory takings plaintiffs will increasingly litigate their cases in state court after San Remo Hotel v. City of San Francisco. Previous U.S. Supreme Court precedent held that in order to ripen federal constitutional takings claims, plaintiffs had to first request just compensation from state courts. In San Remo Hotel, the Court held that the federal courts would not make an exception to the rules of preclusion to allow frustrated plaintiffs to litigate their federal claims in federal court after losing on the merits of their state claims in state court. The decision has been characterized as “jurisdiction stripping” and has been widely criticized.

This Comment defends the outcome of San Remo Hotel on normative grounds. Although the Court could have crafted an exception to preclusion rules in this case, state courts and policymakers are better situated to adjudicate and adjust property entitlements. Moreover, deference to local decisionmaking, forces of competitive federalism, and political accountability counterbalance concerns for property rights raised by critics of the decision. Although these protective forces are not perfect, they are constitutionally adequate, and are preferable to taxing judicial resources with duplicative litigation. Applying these conclusions, this Comment projects how the federal courts should respond to takings plaintiffs’ attempts to circumvent the jurisdictional bar.

Finally, this Comment offers a multijurisdictional solution to the problems posed by regulatory takings. While opening the doors to the federal courts for regulatory takings plaintiffs makes little sense when considering policy concerns, the potential for unfairness to some plaintiffs is unsatisfying. Accordingly, this Comment draws on concepts from the habeas corpus context to suggest an improvement in the status quo. Allowing some plaintiffs to collaterally attack questionable or meritless state court judgments can ensure that states do not abuse their jurisdictional authority over regulatory takings.

About the Author

Chief Articles Editor, UCLA Law Review, Volume 57. J.D., UCLA School of Law, 2010; B.S.E., University of Pennsylvania, 2000.

By uclalaw