Monday, May 01, 2006

Nuisance Abatement Action Does Not Deprive Landowner of the Right to Farm

Gray v. County of Riverside, 2006 Cal. App. LEXIS (Cal. Ct. App. 2006)

In a recent unpublished opinion (April 10, 2006) the California Court of Appeals addressed landowner contention that a nuisance abatement action by the county deprived them of their right to farm the property. The plaintiffs had an eleven acre property that was the subject of complaints by the neighbors, and it contained numerous deceased motor vehicles, run down house trailers, and rubbish. They asserted that they were in 'the early stages' of establishing a farm on the property and relied on the California Right to Farm statute, Cal. Civ. Code, sec. 3482.6 which generally bars nuisance suits against existing agricultural operations that are operated in accordance with proper and usual standards. The court of appeals stated that the landowners had the burden of proving the applicability of the statute, in particular that they had to show that the nuisance complained of was an agricultural activity conducted for commercial purposes in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs judged by the conduct of similar operations in the area. The court also stated that the plaintiff also had to show that the nuisance claim arose as a result of changed circumstances in the area after his operation had been in business for three years or more. As the court noted, the plaintiffs did not submit any evidence to support their defense which rendered their arguments 'meritless'.


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