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Allandale Neighborhood Ass'n v. Austin Transp. Study Policy Advisory Comm.

ELR Citation: 18 ELR 21075
Nos. No. 87-1396, 840 F.2d 258/(5th Cir., 03/22/1988)

The court holds that associations alleging that a city transportation plan would result in depressed property values have standing to challenge the plan under the Federal-Aid Highway Acts (FAHA) and the Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA), and that neither statute provides a private cause of action for citizens to enforce the statutes against an advisory committee for its activity in developing the plan. The court first holds that plaintiffs have standing. The court holds that plaintiffs have satisfied the causation and redressability elements of standing. The advisory committee produced the transportation plan and the provision for a six-lane highway running through the neighborhoods of plaintiffs' members, which allegedly caused a decrease in property market values, and action taken by this court preventing the committee from acting upon the plan would cause the market to reassess those values. The court holds that plaintiffs' allegation of presently depressed property values is sufficient to establish constitutional injury-in-fact. Although depressed property value is a loss that is unrealized until the property is sold, it is an economic injury. A market devaluation may restrict the willingness of a property owner to sell and may lessen the owner's eligibility for loans secured by the property. Moreover, other courts have accepted depressed property values as a sufficient injury for constitutional standing. The court then holds that neither the UMTA nor 23 U.S.C. §134 of the FAHA implies a private cause of action. Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that Congress singled out for special concern individuals and businesses in close proximity to the site of a proposal in a transportation plan. Plaintiffs have also not shown that Congress intended federal courts to recognize an implied private right-of-action with its amendments to these provisions in 1978. The court rejects plaintiffs' argument that federal courts had, previous to 1978, already recognized an implied right of action to enforce another section of the FAHA against planners at the local level.

A concurring judge joins only in the court's holding that the two statutes do not provide an implied private cause of action.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellants
Philip Durst
Richards & Durst
600 W. 7th St., Austin TX 78701
(512) 479-5817

Counsel for Defendant-Appellee
William T. Palmer, Ass't Attorney General
Capital Station, P.O. Box 12548, Austin TX 78711
(512) 475-2501

Before BROWN, JOHNSON, and HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judges.