Gumprecht v. City of Coeur D'Alene, 14238

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Citation104 Idaho 615,661 P.2d 1214
Docket NumberNo. 14238,14238
PartiesDonald G. GUMPRECHT and Alice Gumprecht, husband and wife; Dohn R. Johnson and Elizabeth Johnson, husband and wife; and the Harold V. Wilson and Clemma Wilson Trust by George Kristin, Trustee, Petitioners, v. CITY OF COEUR D'ALENE, a municipal corporation; Don Johnston, Mayor of the City of Coeur d'Alene; Ford Dunton, Roy Koep, James Fromm, Loren R. Edinger, Lois Land-Albrecht, and Edwin Hume Jones, Members of the City Council of the City of Coeur d'Alene, Respondents.
Decision Date06 April 1983

William D. McFarland, Scott W. Reed, Coeur d'Alene, for respondents.

BAKES, Justice.

This is an original proceeding in which petitioners, owners of real property located along the shoreline of Lake Coeur d'Alene and within Coeur d'Alene city limits, sought to restrain an initiative election. The initiative election concerns a proposed amendment to the Coeur d'Alene Municipal Code which would by ordinance prohibit the erection, within the city limits, of new buildings within 150 feet of the shoreline which are in excess of 50 feet in height in the downtown business area, and in excess of 20 feet in height outside the downtown business area. The proposed ordinance would also prohibit the issuance of a building permit for any construction within 40 feet of the shoreline outside the downtown business area but within Coeur d'Alene city limits.

The petitioners filed a Petition For Writ of Prohibition and supporting brief in this Court in which they sought the following relief: (1) an order issuing an alternative writ commanding the respondents to desist and refrain from holding a scheduled initiative election; (2) an order to respondents to show cause why the election should not be permanently enjoined; and (3) an order making the alternative writ of prohibition absolute and permanent.

This Court granted the alternative writ restraining the initiative election and directing respondents, the city of Coeur d'Alene, the mayor and city council members, to show cause why it should not be made permanent. In its answer, the city alleged that a Coeur d'Alene municipal ordinance provides for direct legislation through initiative, that the initiative election procedures were complied with in this instance, and that in Idaho zoning ordinances may properly be adopted by means of initiative elections. The city filed a brief in support of its answer, the petitioners replied, and this Court heard oral argument.

The narrow and important issue of first impression with which we are presented is whether local zoning ordinances may be enacted or amended in Idaho through an initiative election. 1 For the reasons discussed below, we hold that the utilization of an initiative process for zoning matters is inconsistent with the comprehensive statutory procedures mandated by the Local Planning Act of 1975 to be followed in enacting and amending local zoning ordinances and is therefore invalid.


Preliminarily, we address the procedural posture of this case. Respondents argue that it is premature for us to consider the validity of the proposed initiative and that this Court should decline to hear the petition for a writ of prohibition, allowing "The question here is not, as in most of the cases cited, may an election which is provided for by law be restrained, but is, have the mayor and council of Boise jurisdiction to call an election which is unauthorized by law and thereby involve the taxpayers of that city in a useless expense ...?" 29 Idaho at 272, 158 P. at 1075.

[104 Idaho 617] the election to be held. This Court's decision in Perrault v. Robinson, 29 Idaho 267, 158 P. 1074 (1916), is controlling. In Perrault, we granted a Writ of Prohibition preventing a referendum election, stating:

The question presented in this case, whether the election itself is proper, is similar to the question presented in Perrault. If an initiative election is an improper means of adopting or amending zoning ordinances in Idaho, then the city council of Coeur d'Alene would be acting in excess of its jurisdiction in holding the election. We hold that review of a petition for writ of prohibition is proper where, as in this case, the resolution of an important undecided question of law will necessarily decide the propriety of the election.


The power of counties and municipalities to zone is a police power authorized by Art. 12, § 2, of the Idaho Constitution. See Dawson Enterprises, Inc. v. Blaine County, 98 Idaho 506, 511, 567 P.2d 1257, 1262 (1977); Cole-Collister Fire Protection Dist. v. City of Boise, 93 Idaho 558, 562, 468 P.2d 290, 294 (1970). Art. 12, § 2, of the Idaho Constitution provides:

"LOCAL POLICE REGULATIONS AUTHORIZED.--Any county or incorporated city or town may make and enforce, within its limits, all such local police, sanitary and other regulations as are not in conflict with its charter or with the general laws."

An express limitation on localities' exercise of their police powers is contained in the foregoing constitutional authorization. Local regulations of counties and municipalities must "not [be] in conflict with its charter or with the general laws." (Emphasis added.)

A review of Idaho statutes relating to planning and zoning demonstrates clearly that the proposed initiative in this action is in conflict with the general zoning laws of the State of Idaho, and therefore the alternative writ must be made permanent.

In 1975, the Idaho legislature adopted a comprehensive recodification and revision of the laws of the state relating to planning and zoning, in the Local Planning Act of 1975. See I.C. §§ 67-6501 et seq.; 1975 Idaho Sess.Laws, ch. 188, § 2. Section 67-6504 of that Act directs cities and counties to plan and to zone. If the city councils and the boards of county commissioners do not exercise the powers conferred by the Local Planning Act, then the Act directs that planning and zoning commissions are to be established by ordinance to exercise all powers conferred by the Act, other than adopting ordinances, a power which is reserved to the governing board. I.C. § 67-6504. Exercise of the authority to zone and plan, whether by governing board or by the established commissions, is made mandatory by I.C. § 67-6503.

The Local Planning Act establishes explicit and express procedures to be followed by the governing boards or commissions when considering, enacting and amending zoning plans and ordinances. The acts and procedures required by the Act include: holding advisory and informational meetings and hearings in developing plans and zoning structures, I.C. § 67-6507; conducting a comprehensive planning process to prepare, implement and update the comprehensive plan, which is to be based upon specific delineated components, see I.C. § 67-6508; and, giving notice to interested parties and holding public hearings prior to the recommendation, adoption or amendment of a plan or zoning ordinance, I.C. § 67-6509 and I.C. § 67-6511.

In apparent response to our recent case of Cooper v. Board of County Comm'rs, 101 Idaho 407, 614 P.2d 947 (1980), the Idaho legislature recently added several procedural requirements to the Local Planning Act. See 1982 Idaho Sess.Laws, ch.

                [104 Idaho 618] 129, §§ 1, 2, 3.  I.C. § 67-6534 requires the governing board to adopt, by ordinance, "procedures for the conduct of hearings."   The approval or denial of any zoning or rezoning application is to be based upon articulable standards and criteria to be set forth in a comprehensive plan, and is to be in writing, accompanied by a statement of findings of fact and conclusions of law that explain the facts and criteria upon which the decision is based.  See I.C. § 67-6535.  Additionally, I.C. § 67-6536 requires that "[i]n every case ... where an appeal is provided for, a transcribable verbatim record of the proceeding shall be made and kept for a period of not less than six (6) months after a final decision on the matter," and that the governing board is required to record and retain minutes of the proceedings

Finally, in I.C. § 67-6509(a), the legislature specifically mandated that "[n]o plan shall be effective unless adopted by resolution or ordinance by the governing board." (Emphasis added.) I.C. § 67-6511 requires each governing board "by ordinance adopted, amended, or repealed in accordance with the notice and hearing procedures ..." established in I.C. § 67-6509 to establish zones or zoning districts within its jurisdiction. Requests for amendments to zoning ordinances "shall be submitted to the zoning or planning and zoning commission, which shall evaluate the request ..." (emphasis added) and make their decisions after compliance with the notice and hearing provisions of I.C. § 67-6509. See I.C. §§ 67-6511(a), -(b), -(c). It is impossible for initiative zoning to comply with these legislative mandates.

Statutes must be interpreted to give effect to legislative intent and purpose. See Gavica v. Hanson, 101 Idaho 58, 60, 608 P.2d 861, 863 (1980); Smith v. Dept. of Employment, 100 Idaho 520, 522, 602 P.2d 18, 20 (1979). The legislature clearly intended that the authority to enact comprehensive plans, establish zoning districts and adopt amendatory ordinances be exercised exclusively by city and county legislative or governing bodies and pursuant to specific prescribed procedures. Thus, the comprehensiveness of zoning legislation in Idaho leaves no room for direct legislation by electors through an initiative election, and the initiative in question in this case is "in conflict with ... the general laws [the Local Planning Act of 1975]." See also, City of Scottsdale v. Superior Court, 103 Ariz. 204, 439 P.2d 290 (Ariz.1968); Kelley v. John, 162 Neb. 319, 75 N.W.2d 713 (Neb.1956); Forman v. Eagle Thrifty Drugs & Markets, Inc., 89 Nev. 533, 516 P.2d 1234 (Nev.1973); Township of Sparta v. Spillane, 125 N.J.Super....

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    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
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    ...Idaho County Prop. Owners v. Syringa General Hosp. Dist., 119 Idaho 309, 312, 805 P.2d 1233, 1236 (1991); Gumprecht v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 104 Idaho 615, 661 P.2d 1214 (1983). Moreover, the court must construe a statute as a whole, In re: Permit No. 36-7200, 121 Idaho at 823, 828 P.2d at......
  • Noh v. Cenarrusa, 28590.
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    ...also rely on Weldon v. Bonner County Tax Coalition, 124 Idaho 31, 855 P.2d 868 (1993), which looked to Gumprecht v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 104 Idaho 615, 661 P.2d 1214 (1983). Both Gumprecht and Weldon precluded the voters from considering the initiatives. Weldon and Gumprecht dealt with co......
  • Associated Taxpayers of Idaho, Inc. v. Cenarrusa
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    • September 15, 1986
    ...what petitioners ask of us. It is true that this Court entertained a pre-election review of an initiative in Gumprecht v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 104 Idaho 615, 661 P.2d 1214 (1983). However, we held only that an initiative election was an improper method to amend or enact zoning ordinances ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Reconsidering the use of direct democracy in making land use decisions.
    • United States
    • UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy Vol. 19 No. 2, December 2001
    • December 22, 2001
    ...the exercise of direct legislation by the voters through the initiative or referendum process."); Gumprecht v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 661 P.2d 1214, 1215 (Idaho 1983) ("[W]e hold that the utilization of an initiative process for zoning matters is inconsistent with the comprehensive statutor......

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