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Construction Indus. Ass'n v. Petaluma, City of

Citation: 5 ELR 20519
No. No. 74-2100, 522 F.2d 897/8 ERC 1001/(9th Cir., 08/13/1975) Rev'd

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a district court ruling and holds that a five-year municipal housing and zoning plan which restricts housing development in the form of projects of five or more units to a total of 500 units per year is a valid exercise of the police power. The landowners and builders who are challenging the growth control plan lack standing to press a claim that the plan unconstitutionally abridges the right to travel, the sole ground upon which the lower court based its decision. Plaintiffs' economic interests are outside the zone of interests protected by such a right, and they do not fit any of the exceptions to the general rule that litigants are barred from asserting the rights of third parties. Plaintiffs do, however, have standing to maintain their claims that the plan is an unconstitutional violation of both the requirements of substantive due process and of the Commerce Clause. The first of these contentions is mistaken as the plan, though exclusionary in effect, bears a rational relationship to the legitimate governmental interest in promoting the public welfare by preserving Petaluma's open space and small town character. The court also points out that the plan will in fact operate to bring more low and moderate income persons into the community because it requires that eight to 12 percent of new housing units be for such residents. Nor does the plan unreasonably burden interstate commerce, since it is rationally related to the social and environmental welfare of the community, and does not discriminate against such commerce or disrupt its required uniformity. The court admits that the proliferation of such growth control measures throughout the San Francisco metropolitan region could severely effect the availability of housing, but notes that it is the role of the state legislature rather than the federal court to remedy the situation if the present system of delegated zoning power does not effectively further the general welfare of the region or state.

For the district court's opinion, see 4 ELR 20454.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellees
Malcolm A. Misuraca
Arata, Misuraca & Clement
717 College Ave.
Santa Rosa, Cal. 95404

Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
Robert T. Anderson
Sturgis, Den-Dalk, Douglass & Anderson
1332 Webster St.
Oakland, Cal. 94612

Counsel for Amicus Curiae State of California
Evelle J. Younger Attorney General
Robert C. O'Brien Asst. Attorney General
Nicholas C. Yost
E. Clement Shute
C. Foster Knight Deputy Attorneys General
1350 Front St., Rm. 506
San Diego, Cal. 92101

Counsel for Amici Curiae Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. and Sierra Club
Ronald J. Gibson
Steinhart, Goldberg, Feigenbaum & Ladar
One Post St., Suite 3400
San Francisco, Cal. 94104

John Bryson
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
664 Hamilton Ave.
Palo Alto, Cal. 94301

Michael R. Sherwood
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Inc.
311 California St.
San Francisco, Cal. 94104