512 U.S. 374 (1994), 93-518, Dolan v. City of Tigard

Docket Nº:Case No. 93-518
Citation:512 U.S. 374, 114 S.Ct. 2309, 129 L.Ed.2d 304, 62 U.S.L.W. 4576
Case Date:June 24, 1994
Court:United States Supreme Court

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512 U.S. 374 (1994)

114 S.Ct. 2309, 129 L.Ed.2d 304, 62 U.S.L.W. 4576




Case No. 93-518

United States Supreme Court

June 24, 1994

Argued March 23, 1994



The City Planning Commission of respondent city conditioned approval of petitioner Dolan's application to expand her store and pave her parking lot upon her compliance with dedication of land (1) for a public greenway along Fanno Creek to minimize flooding that would be exacerbated by the increases in impervious surfaces associated with her development and (2) for a pedestrian/bicycle pathway intended to relieve traffic congestion in the city's Central Business District. She appealed the commission's denial of her request for variances from these standards to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), alleging that the land dedication requirements were not related to the proposed development and therefore constituted an uncompensated taking of her property under the Fifth Amendment. LUBA found a reasonable relationship between (1) the development and the requirement to dedicate land for a greenway, since the larger building and paved lot would increase the impervious surfaces and thus the runoff into the creek, and (2) alleviating the impact of increased traffic from the development and facilitating the provision of a pathway as an alternative means of transportation. Both the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed.


The city's dedication requirements constitute an uncompensated taking of property. Pp. 383-396.

(a) Under the well-settled doctrine of "unconstitutional conditions," the government may not require a person to give up a constitutional right in exchange for a discretionary benefit conferred by the government where the property sought has little or no relationship to the benefit. In evaluating Dolan's claim, it must be determined whether an "essential nexus" exists between a legitimate state interest and the permit condition. Nollan v. California Coastal Comm'n, 483 U.S. 825, 837. If one does, then it must be decided whether the degree of the exactions demanded by the permit conditions bears the required relationship to the projected impact of the proposed development. Id., at 834. Pp. 383-386.

(b) Preventing flooding along Fanno Creek and reducing traffic congestion in the district are legitimate public purposes; and a nexus exists between the first purpose and limiting development within the creek's

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floodplain and between the second purpose and providing for alternative means of transportation. Pp. 386-388.

(c) In deciding the second question—whether the city's findings are constitutionally sufficient to justify the conditions imposed on Dolan's permit—the necessary connection required by the Fifth Amendment is "rough proportionality." No precise mathematical calculation is required, but the city must make some sort of individualized determination that the required dedication is related both in nature and extent to the proposed development's impact. This is essentially the "reasonable relationship" test adopted by the majority of the state courts. Pp. 388-391.

(d) The findings upon which the city relies do not show the required reasonable relationship between the floodplain easement and Dolan's proposed building. The Community Development Code already required that Dolan leave 15% of her property as open space, and the undeveloped floodplain would have nearly satisfied that requirement. However, the city has never said why a public, as opposed to a private, greenway is required in the interest of flood control. The difference to Dolan is the loss of her ability to exclude others from her property, yet the city has not attempted to make any individualized determination to support this part of its request. The city has also not met its burden of demonstrating that the additional number of vehicle and bicycle trips generated by Dolan's development reasonably relates to the city's requirement for a dedication of the pathway easement. The city must quantify its finding beyond a conclusory statement that the dedication could offset some of the traffic demand generated by the development. Pp. 392-396.

317 Ore. 110, 854 P.2d 437, reversed and remanded.

Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Blackmun and Ginsburg, JJ., joined, post, p. 396. Souter, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 411.

David B. Smith argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioner.

Timothy V. Ramis argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were James M. Coleman and Richard J. Lazarus.

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Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Days, Acting Assistant Attorney General Schiffer, James E. Brookshire, and Martin W. Matzen.[*]

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Chief Justice Rehnquist delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner challenges the decision of the Oregon Supreme Court which held that the city of Tigard could condition the approval of her building permit on the dedication of a portion of her property for flood control and traffic improvements. 317 Ore. 110, 854 P.2d 437 (1993). We granted certiorari to resolve a question left open by our decision in Nollan v. California Coastal Comm'n, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), of whet is the required degree of connection between the exactions imposed by the city and the projected impacts of the proposed development.


The State of Oregon enacted a comprehensive land use management program in 1973. Ore. Rev. Stat. §§ 197.005-197.860 (1991). The program required all Oregon cities and counties to adopt new comprehensive land use plans that were consistent with the statewide planning goals. §§ 197.175(1), 197.250. The plans are implemented by land use regulations which are part of an integrated hierarchy of legally binding goals, plans, and regulations. §§ 197.175, 197.175(2)(b). Pursuant to the State's requirements, the city of Tigard, a community of some 30,000 residents on the southwest edge of Portland, developed a comprehensive plan and codified it in its Community Development Code (CDC). The CDC requires property owners in the area zoned Central Business District to comply with a 15% open space and landscaping requirement, which limits total site coverage, including all structures and paved parking, to 85% of the parcel. CDC, ch. 18.66, App. to Pet. for Cert. G-16 to G-17. After the completion of a transportation study that identified

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congestion in the Central Business District as a particular problem, the city adopted a plan for a pedestrian/bicycle pathway intended to encourage alternatives to automobile transportation for short trips. The CDC requires that new development facilitate this plan by dedicating land for pedestrian pathways where provided for in the pedestrian/bicycle pathway plan.[1]

The city also adopted a Master Drainage Plan (Drainage Plan). The Drainage Plan noted that flooding occurred in several areas along Fanno Creek, including areas near petitioner's property. Record, Doc. No. F, ch. 2, pp. 2-5 to 2-8; 4-2 to 4-6; Figure 4-1. The Drainage Plan also established that the increase in impervious surfaces associated with continued urbanization would exacerbate these flooding problems. To combat these risks, the Drainage Plan suggested a series of improvements to the Fanno Creek Basin, including channel excavation in the area next to petitioner's property. App. to Pet. for Cert. G-13, G-38. Other recommendations included ensuring that the floodplain remains free of structures and that it be preserved as greenways to minimize flood damage to structures. Record, Doc. No. F, ch. 5, pp. 5-16 to 5-21. The Drainage Plan concluded that the cost of these improvements should be shared based on both direct and indirect benefits, with property owners along the waterways paying more due to the direct benefit that they would receive. Id., ch. 8, p. 8-11. CDC Chapters 18.84 and 18.86

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and CDC § 18.164.100 and the Tigard Park Plan carry out these recommendations.

Petitioner Florence Dolan owns a plumbing and electric supply store located on Main Street in the Central Business District of the city. The store covers approximately 9,700 square feet on the eastern side of a 1.67-acre parcel, which includes a gravel parking lot. Fanno Creek flows through the southwestern corner of the lot and along its western boundary. The year-round flow of the creek renders the area within the creek's 100-year floodplain virtually unusable for commercial development. The city's comprehensive plan includes the Fanno Creek floodplain as part of the city's greenway system.

Petitioner applied to the city for a permit to redevelop the site. Her proposed plans called for nearly doubling the size of the store to 17,600 square feet and paving a 39-space parking lot. The existing store, located on the opposite side of the parcel, would be razed in sections as construction progressed on the new building. In the second phase of the project, petitioner proposed to build an additional structure on the northeast side of the site for complementary businesses and to provide more parking. The proposed expansion and intensified use are consistent with the city's zoning scheme in the Central Business District. CDC § 18.66.030, App. to Brief for Petitioner C-1 to C-3.

The City Planning Commission (Commission) granted petitioner's permit application subject to conditions imposed by the city's CDC. The CDC establishes the following standard for site development review approval:


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