Beatrice Close


constitutional law, zoning, referenda, referendum, due process, land use change


This case note discusses the United States Supreme Court's decision in City of Eastlake v. Forest City Enterprises, Inc., 96 S. Ct. 2358 (1976), which held that a state's decision to allow mandatory referendums on all municipal land use changes does not violate the due process clause. The case note examines the line of cases, such as Eubanks v. Richmond, 226 U.S. 137 (1912) and Washington ex rel. Seattle Trust Co. v. Roberge, 278 U.S. 116 (1928), that establish the principle that standardless delegations of power to impose restrictions on the property rights of others violated the due process clause and that such delegations constitute an improper delegation of legislative power. The case note then discusses the few cases challenging the constitutionality of referendum procedures, such as Southern Alameda Spanish Speaking Organization (SASSO) v. Union City, 424 F.2d 291 (9th Cir. 1970), where the Ninth Circuit affirmed the validity and inherent democratic qualities of the referendum procedure. The case note highlights Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion and suggests that the plaintiff should have attacked the validity of the rezoning's classification as a legislative, rather than an administrative act, in an attempt to remove the rezoning from the scope of a referendum. The case note concludes that the Eastlake decision is narrow and that its ultimate impact will largely depend on state legislatures and courts.



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