Supreme Court of the United States
533 U.S. 606, 121 S.Ct. 2448 (2001)
Where regulation limits the use and enjoyment of property but falls short of eliminating all economically beneficial use, a taking nonetheless may have occurred depending upon a variety of factors, including the regulation’s economic effect on the landowner, the extent to which the regulation interferes with reasonable investment-backed expectations, and the character of the government action. These inquiries are informed by the purpose of the Takings Clause which is to prevent the government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which in all fairness should be borne by the public as a whole.
A property owner may not claim a taking before a land-use authority has the opportunity, using its own procedures, to decide and explain the reach of the challenged regulation. Under the “ripeness” rules, a takings claim based on a law or regulation which is alleged to go too far depends upon the landowner’s first having followed reasonable and necessary steps to allow the regulatory agency to exercise its full discretion and considering development plans for the property.
A law which unreasonably restricts property use to the point of being a regulatory taking does not become “less unreasonable” through passage of time or title. A law does not become a “background principle” for subsequent owners by enactment itself.
Government may not evade the duty to compensate on the premise that the landowner is left with a token interest.