(CN) – San Francisco’s government lacks the power to declare a church a historic landmark, a California appeals court ruled, clearing the path for the vacant building to be sold to developers.
The First St. John’s United Methodist Church building was built in 1911 and used for church services until 2004, when the church merged with another congregation.
In 2005, the building was vacated when it was determined to be unsafe to operate as a day-care center.
The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church sued the city and county to stop the landmark designation. The church is no longer used as a place of worship and was set to be sold to condominium developers.
Justice Pollak of the 1st District Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that state law exempts church property from landmarking regulations.
Pollak was not convinced by the governments’ argument that the property was not “non-commercial” because it was to be sold for development.
“The church’s position, which we have determined to be correct,” Pollak wrote, “is that the city has no jurisdiction to subject the church property to ordinance.”