The Oregon Court of Appeals recently decided another case that underscores the importance of the nexus prong of a takings claim.

In Jed Brown v. City of Medford, the court found unconstitutional the City of Medford’s attempted street right-of-way exaction in a two-lot partition. The property at issue abutted Finley Lane to the north and a partially dedicated and platted, but unbuilt Brady Way to the south.

The applicant proposed to take all access for both parcels from Finley Lane. Even so, the City approved the partition conditioned on the applicant dedicating the remaining right-of-way for the full build-out of Brady Way to the south.

Both the trial court and the court of appeals had no problem finding that the City had failed to articulate an essential nexus between the partition and the need for the Brady Way street dedication. In particular, the court of appeals stated that it’s not good enough for the City to offer up a generalized state interest for the exaction. That does not satisfy the “essential nexus” prong of a takings inquiry. What does satisfy that prong is a demonstration by the public entity that the imposed exaction substantially advances the same interest that the entity could use to deny the permit altogether in the exaction’s absence.

In this case, then, the City needed to show what legitimate state interests would allow it to deny the partition application, and then how the street exaction would serve those interests. Failing that, the exaction was found to be unconstitutional.