You probably haven’t spent much time wondering about who owns that sky above your house? You may be surprised to find out that, according to Public Utilities Code Section 21402, that sky is yours – to a point. So, what is this curious asset worth and, more to the point, what can you do with it? Scott and Lynn Powell, Humboldt County homeowners, found the answer the hard way.
The Powells wanted to make minor alterations to their home. “Fine” said the County, as long as the Powells provided an aircraft overflight easement as required by the County’s General Plan. The Powells, willing to assume the role of David to the County’s Goliath, filed suit, arguing that this requirement was not substantially related to the modification of their home and, in fact, resulted in a taking of their property. Under the Constitutions of the United States and California, the Powells filed an action for just compensation from the County. Goliath won. Continue reading