Berman v. Parker, No. 22

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS
Citation99 L.Ed. 27,348 U.S. 26,75 S.Ct. 98
PartiesSamuel BERMAN and Solomon H. Feldman, Executors of the State of Max R. Morris, Deceased, Appellants, v. Andrew PARKER, John A. Remon, James E. Colliflower, et al
Docket NumberNo. 22
Decision Date22 November 1954

348 U.S. 26
75 S.Ct. 98
99 L.Ed. 27
Samuel BERMAN and Solomon H. Feldman, Executors of the State of Max R. Morris, Deceased, Appellants,

v.

Andrew PARKER, John A. Remon, James E. Colliflower, et al.

No. 22.
Argued Oct. 19, 1954.
Decided Nov. 22, 1954.

[Syllabus from pages 26-27 intentionally omitted]

Page 27

Messrs.James C. Toomey and Joseph H. Schneider, Washington, D.C., for appellants.

Mr. Simon E. Sobeloff, Sol. Gen., Washington, D.C., for appellees.

Page 28

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an appeal, 28 U.S.C. § 1253, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1253, from the judgment of a three-judge District Court which dismissed a complaint seeking to enjoin the condemnation of appellants' property under the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act of 1945, 60 Stat. 790, D.C.Code 1951, §§ 5—701 to 5—719. The challenge was to the constitutionality of the Act, particularly as applied to the taking of appellants' property. The District Court sustained the constitutionality of the Act. 117 F.Supp. 705.

By § 2 of the Act, Congress made a 'legislative determination' that 'owing to technological and sociological changes, obsolete lay-out, and other factors, conditions existing in the District of Columbia with respect to substandard housing and blighted areas, including the use of buildings in alleys as dwellings for human habitation, are injurious to the public health, safety, morals, and welfare, and it is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to protect and promote the welfare of the inhabitants of the seat of the Government by eliminating all such injurious conditions by employing all means necessary and appropriate for the purpose'.1

Section 2 goes on to declare that acquisition of property is necessary to eliminate these housing conditions.

Page 29

Congress further finds in § 2 that these ends cannot be attained 'by the ordinary operations of private enterprise alone without public participation'; that 'the sound replanning and redevelopment of an obsolescent or obsolescing portion' of the District 'cannot be accomplished unless it be done in the light of comprehensive and coordinated planning of the whole of the territory of the District of Columbia and its environs'; and that 'the acquisition and the assembly of real property and the leasing or sale thereof for redevelopment pursuant to a project area redevelopment plan * * * is hereby declared to be a public use.'

Section 4 creates the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency (hereinafter called the Agency), composed of five members, which is granted power by § 5(a) to acquire and assemble, by eminent domain and otherwise, real property for 'the redevelopment of blighted territory in the District of Columbia and the prevention, reduction, or elimination of blighting factors or causes of blight'.

Section 6(a) of the Act directs the National Capital Planning Commission (hereinafter called the Planning Commission) to make and develop 'a comprehensive or general plan' of the District, including 'a land-use plan' which designates land for use for 'housing, business, industry, recreation, education, public buildings, public reservations, and other general categories of public and private uses of the land.' Section 6(b) authorizes the Planning Commission to adopt redevelopment plans for specific project areas. These plans are subject to the approval of the District Commissioners after a public hearing; and they prescribe the various public and private land uses for the respective areas, the 'standards of population density and building intensity', and 'the amount or character or class of any low-rent housing'. § 6(b).

Page 30

Once the Planning Commission adopts a plan and that plan is approved by the Commissioners, the Planning Commission certifies it to the Agency. § 6(d). At that point, the Agency is authorized to acquire and assemble the real property in the area. Id.

After the real estate has been assembled, the Agency is authorized to transfer to public agencies the land to be devoted to such public purposes as streets, utilities, recreational facilities, and schools, § 7(a), and to lease or sell the remainder as an entirety or in parts to a redevelopment company, individual, or partnership. § 7(b), (f). The leases or sales must provide that the lessees or purchasers will carry out the redevelopment plan and that 'no use shall be made of any land or real property included in the lease or sale nor any building or structure erected thereon' which does not conform to the plan. §§ 7(d), 11. Preference is to be given to private enterprise over public agencies in executing the redevelopment plan. § 7(g).

The first project undertaken under the Act relates to Project Area B in Southwest Washington, D.C. In 1950 the Planning Commission prepared and published a comprehensive plan for the District. Surveys revealed that in Area B, 64.3% of the dwellings were beyond repair, 18.4% needed major repairs, only 17.3% were satisfactory; 57.8% of the dwellings had outside toilets, 60.3% had no baths, 29.3% lacked electricity, 82.2% had no wash basins or laundry tubs, 83.8% lacked central heating. In the judgment of the District's Director of Health it was necessary to redevelop Area B in the interests of public health. The population of Area B amounted to 5,012 persons, of whom 97.5% were Negroes.

The plan for Area B specifies the boundaries and allocates the use of the land for various purposes. It makes detailed provisions for types of dwelling units and provides that at least one-third of them are to be low-rent

Page 31

housing with a maximum rental of $17 per room per month.

After a public hearing, the Commissioners approved the plan and the Planning Commission certified it to the Agency for execution. The Agency undertook the preliminary steps for redevelopment of the area when this suit was brought.

Appellants own property in Area B at 712 Fourth Street, S.W. It is not used as a dwelling or place of habitation. A department store is located on it. Appellants object to the appropriation of this property for the purposes of the project. They claim that their property may not to taken constitutionally for this project. It is commercial, not residential property; it is not slum housing; it will be put into the project under the management of a private, not a public, agency and redeveloped for private, not public, use. That is the argument; and the contention is that appellants' private property is being taken contrary to two mandates of the Fifth Amendment—(1) 'No person shall * * * be deprived of * * * property, without due process of law'; (2) 'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.' To take for the purpose of ridding the area of slums is one thing; it is quite another, the argument goes, to take a man's property...

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884 practice notes
  • U.S. v. 101.88 Acres of Land, More or Less, Situated in St. Mary Parish, State of La., No. 77-2768
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 5, 1980
    ...514 F.2d 1350; United States v. 58.16 Acres in Clinton County, Illinois (Cooley), 7 Cir. 1973, 478 F.2d 1055. 5 Berman v. Parker, 1954, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27; United States v. 21.54 Acres of Land in Marshall County, West Virginia (Darrah), 4 Cir. 1973, 491 F.2d 301; United S......
  • Bossier City Medical Suite v. City of Bossier City, Civ. A. No. 79-1336.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • January 21, 1980
    ...365, 47 S.Ct. 114, 71 L.Ed. 303 (1926); Zahn v. Board of Public Works, 274 U.S. 325, 47 S.Ct. 594, 71 L.Ed. 1074 (1927); Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27 (1954); and Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1, 94 S.Ct. 1536, 39 L.Ed.2d 797 A. In Louisiana, R.S. 33:4......
  • Burns v. Town of Palm Beach, No. 18-14515
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 8, 2021
    ...is "beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled." Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 33, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27 (1954).The vast majority of traditional zoning regulations are aimed at similar ends and could easily be enforced......
  • Street v. New York, No. 5
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 21, 1969
    ...property. See, e.g., Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, 47 S.Ct. 114, 71 L.Ed. 303 (1926); Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27 (1954). If a statute provided that it is a misdemeanor to burn one's shirt or trousers or shoes on the public thoroughf......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
863 cases
  • U.S. v. 101.88 Acres of Land, More or Less, Situated in St. Mary Parish, State of La., No. 77-2768
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 5, 1980
    ...514 F.2d 1350; United States v. 58.16 Acres in Clinton County, Illinois (Cooley), 7 Cir. 1973, 478 F.2d 1055. 5 Berman v. Parker, 1954, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27; United States v. 21.54 Acres of Land in Marshall County, West Virginia (Darrah), 4 Cir. 1973, 491 F.2d 301; United S......
  • Bossier City Medical Suite v. City of Bossier City, Civ. A. No. 79-1336.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • January 21, 1980
    ...365, 47 S.Ct. 114, 71 L.Ed. 303 (1926); Zahn v. Board of Public Works, 274 U.S. 325, 47 S.Ct. 594, 71 L.Ed. 1074 (1927); Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27 (1954); and Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1, 94 S.Ct. 1536, 39 L.Ed.2d 797 A. In Louisiana, R.S. 33:4......
  • Burns v. Town of Palm Beach, No. 18-14515
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 8, 2021
    ...that is "beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled." Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 33, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27 (1954).The vast majority of traditional zoning regulations are aimed at similar ends and could easily be enforced. Unl......
  • Street v. New York, No. 5
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 21, 1969
    ...property. See, e.g., Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, 47 S.Ct. 114, 71 L.Ed. 303 (1926); Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 75 S.Ct. 98, 99 L.Ed. 27 (1954). If a statute provided that it is a misdemeanor to burn one's shirt or trousers or shoes on the public thoroughf......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 books & journal articles
  • The 'Euclidean' Strategy: Authorizing and Implementing the Legislative Districting of Permissible Land Uses
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...are legitimate guidelines in a land use project addressed to family needs. This goal is a permissible one within Berman v. Parker [348 U.S. 26 (1954)]. The police power is not confined to elimination of filth, stench, and unhealthy places. It is ample to lay out zones where family values, y......
  • The Centrality of Exclusion: Legal Impediments to Keeping 'Undesirable' People and Uses Out of the Community
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...I do not doubt that “[i] t is within the power of the [city] to determine that the community should be beautiful,” Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 33, (1954), but that power may not be exercised in contravention of the First Amendment. This Court noted in Schad that “[t]he [city] has present......
  • The Regulatory Takings Battleground: Environmental Regulation of Land Versus Private-Property Rights
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...a landowner’s property and obtains the fee simple pursuant to its sovereign power of eminent domain. See, e. g. , Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26, 33 (1954). However, a “taking” may also occur without a formal condemnation proceeding or transfer of fee simple. . . . In service of this princip......
  • PROPERTY LAW'S SEARCH FOR A PUBLIC.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 97 Nbr. 5, June 2020
    • June 1, 2020
    ...J. ON REG. 91, 103 (2011). (101.) Penn Cent. Transp. Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104, 125 (1978). (102.) See, e.g., Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (103.) Haw. Hous. Auth. v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229, 243 (1984) ("[O]ur cases make clear that empirical debates over the wisdom of takings--......
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