The California legislature created the Los Angeles Flood Control District, empowered a board of supervisors to construct improvements and acquire property necessary or useful for carrying out the purposes of the act, and provided for the organization of drainage districts within the flood control district. An amendatory act provided that the board of supervisors might accept a transfer of "all, but not less than all," improvements of defined classes lying within the flood control district, whereupon the district should become liable for principal and interest of bonds afterward maturing which had been issued by any drainage district to cover the cost of the transferred improvements; and in order to finance the bonds the board of supervisors was authorized to levy a special tax each year on all taxable real estate within the flood control district. Pursuant to the amendatory act, eleven drainage districts which had previously been organized within the flood control district transferred improvements to the board of supervisors. Appellant, who owned taxable real estate which was in the flood control district but situated outside all eleven drainage districts, presented to the highest court of the state a petition for a pre-emptory writ of mandamus to require the board of supervisors to levy assessments in accordance with the statutes prior to the amendatory act, and to refrain from levying assessments under the amendatory act. Appellant claimed that assessments levied under the amendatory act would be laid upon real estate within the flood control district but outside the drainage districts; that there had been no legislative determination that the improvements in the eleven drainage districts would benefit that property, and no provision had been made for the owners to be heard on the question; that a levy of assessments upon that property would therefore deprive the owners of their property without due process of law. The state court ruled that though there had been no express finding by the legislature that all land in the flood control district would be benefited by the acquisition of improvements in the drainage districts, such a finding was implied by the particularity of the legislature's description in the amendatory act of the improvements authorized to be transferred. Held, affirmed; that whether there had in fact been a legislative determination that all land within the flood control district would be specially benefited by the acquisition of improvements in the several drainage districts was a federal question and conferred jurisdiction for review of the state court's decision; that a legislative determination of benefits was implied in the amendatory act. Chesebro v. Los Angeles County Flood Control District (U.S. 1939) 59 S. Ct. 622.
Richard S. Brawerman,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS - PROPERTY OWNER'S RIGHT TO HEARING UNDER DUE PROCESS CLAUSE - LEGISLATIVE DETERMINATION OF BENEFITS,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol37/iss8/18