[262 U.S. 700, 701] Messrs. Edward Stafford, of Washington, D. C., and Nathan Newby and J. A. Anderson, both of Los Angeles, Cal., for plaintiffs in error.
Mr. Paul Vallee, of Los Angeles, Cal., for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice SANFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.
This record includes two cases which were tried together in the State courts and have been heard together here.
The writs of error are brought to review judgments of the District Court of Appeal affirming judgments of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California, condemning lands of the plaintiffs in error for use by the County as public highways; which they insist have deprived them of their property without due process of law and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. 1 [262 U.S. 700, 702] The two fundamental questions involved are whether the uses for which these lands have been taken are public uses authorized by law; and whether the taking was necessary to such uses.
Section 1238 of the California Code of Civil Procedure includes 'highways' among the 'public uses' for which the right of eminent domain may be exercised. Section 1241, as amended in 1913, provides that before property can be taken it must appear that the use to which it is to be applied is one authorized by law and that the taking is necessary to such use: Provided, inter alia, that when the legislative body of a county has, by resolution adopted by vote of two-thirds of its members, found and determined that the public interest and necessity require the construction by the county of any proposed public improvement located within its limits and that designated property is necessary therefor, such resolution shall be 'conclusive evidence' of the public necessity for such improvement, that such property is necessary therefor, and that such improvement is located in the manner most compatible with the greatest public good and the least private injury. States. 1913, p. 549.
The plaintiffs in error are the owners of a large tract of land lying on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, known as the Malibu Ranch, extending in an easterly and westerly direction about twenty-two miles and varying in width from one-half mile to one and one-half miles. It lies at the base of a high and rugged mountain range which parallels the shore at a distance of from three to four miles, its northern line extending along the slope and foothills of this mountain range, and is traversed by many ridges and intervening canyons leading from the mountains toward the shore. It lies about ten miles west of Santa Monica, one of the principal cities of Los Angeles County, situated on the coast to the southwest of the City of Los Angeles, and is mainly in Los Angeles County, but extends [262 U.S. 700, 703] about a mile and a half into Ventura County, the adjoining county on the west. It is traversed lengthwise by a private road of the ranch owners which was formerly used by farmers and settlers living north of the ranch on the slope of the mountains and west of the ranch in Ventura County, but which has been for several years closed by the ranch owners to the public.