No Compensation for Hollywood Hi-jinx

State ex rel. Cuyahoga Lakefront Land, LLC v. Cleveland, 148 Ohio St.3d 531, 2016-Ohio-7592.

Cleveland has seen better days, but it is apparently the perfect spot for Hollywood crews looking for cityscapes to film in.  So, when a production company applied for a permit to close a portion of West Third Street for 16 days to film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the city jumped at the opportunity.  To do so, portions of the downtown were shut down, and this inconvenienced several businesses, including that of an ominously-named parking garage called “The Pit.”

Cuyahoga Lakefront Land, LLC (“CLL”) owned the Pit, which abuts West Third and West Ninth Streets.  The street closure shut down the Pit’s West Third Street entrance; however, CLL continued to operate the lot via its second entrance at West Ninth Street, and the production company paid for 325 spaces in the Pit for two days at a rate higher than the normal revenue per car that CLL enjoyed.  Nevertheless, CLL determined that it had suffered a loss as a result of the city’s permit and closure of West Third Street and filed a lawsuit to compel the city to initiate appropriations proceedings and compensate CLL for the city’s regulatory, temporary taking of CLL’s property.

Normally, an owner of real property is entitled to compensation when a political subdivision, like a city, deprives it of the use and enjoyment of the same; this is known as a “taking.”  Having access to a neighboring public roadway is a right of real property and depriving an owner of that right requires compensation.  In this case, CLL argued that the street closure deprived it of the right of access, whereas the city argued that the closure only temporarily interrupted the flow of travel to and through the Pit but did not  impair it.

The Ohio Supreme Court agreed.  It noted that other Ohio courts have held that a temporary interference with access to property does not rise to the level of a compensable taking.  The Court noted that CLL still had access to a roadway and was still able to operate the Pit regardless of the temporary street closure.  It therefore refused to require the city to compensate CLL for the inconvenience.

Recently, a portion of West Second Street in Dayton, Ohio (which is where our firm is located) was shut down to permit the filming of a movie.  This may have negatively affected local businesses in the area, but there appears to be no way for an affected property owner to pursue the city for compensation.  I suppose this is part of “the Hollywood Treatment.”

The author, Jonathan F. Hung, Esquire, is an associate attorney at Green & Green, Lawyers whose experience includes seeking just compensation for regulatory takings.  Do you have a question about government takings that you need an answer to?  Green & Green, Lawyers, has the experience to assist property owners as they navigate Ohio’s appropriation laws.