COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF CITY OF LOS ANGELES v. GOLDMAN

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District Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 1, California.

The COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF the CITY OF LOS ANGELES, California, Petitioner and Respondent, v. Henry GOLDMAN et al., Respondents to the Petition and Appellants.

Henry GOLDMAN et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. The CITY OF LOS ANGELES et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Civ. 26249.

Decided: August 05, 1963

Phill Silver, Hollywood, for appellants Goldman et al. Austin Clapp, Woodside, for appellant Babcook. Wadsworth, Fraser & McClung, Los Angeles, for appellants Swigart et al. Floyd H. Norris, los Angeles, for appellants Trautwein et al. Gwyn S. Redwine and Kent H. Redwine, Hollywood, for appellants Redwine et al. Adams, Duque & Hazeltine, Henry O. Duque, Bruce A. Beckman, Los Angeles, Eugene B. Jacobs, General Counsel, George J. Roth, Senior Asst. Counsel, for petitioner and respondent Community Redevelopment Agency. Roger Arnebergh, City Atty., Bourke Jones and James A. Doherty, Asst. City Attys., for respondents City and Council of City of Los Angeles, Leon V. McCardle as Treasurer of City.

A special proceeding was brought by The Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (hereinafter referred to as ‘Agency’), pursuant to sections 33955 through 33961 of the Health and Safety Code, to determine the validity of the redevelopment plan for the Bunker Hill Urban Renewal Project 1B (hereinafter called the ‘Bunker Hill Project’); its authority to issue bonds to finance such project in part; the validity of such bonds to be issued by the Agency and for an injunction pursuant to Section 33961 of the Health and Safety Code permanently enjoining the institution by any person or organization of any action or proceeding raising any issue adjudicated or which could be adjudicated therein. Five separate actions are consolidated with said special proceeding. (Health & Saf. Code, § 33958.) The plaintiff or plaintiffs therein (hereinafter sometimes referred to as ‘objectors') are property owners within the project area and taxpayers of the City of Los Angeles, suing as property owners and taxpayers. The defendants in the actions are the Agency, the City of Los Angeles (hereinafter referred to as ‘City’) and, in certain cases, the City Council of the City and the City Treasurer.

The complaints in these five actions are either for declaratory relief, for injunction, for writ of mandate or certiorari, or for judicial review pursuant to Health and Safety Code, section 33746. These five actions attack the proceedings of the Agency, the City and the Council leading up to the adoption and the adoption of the ordinance approving the final redevelopment plan. The plaintiffs in said actions, as respondents in the Agency proceeding, answered the petition setting up defensively the same matters alleged in their several complaints.

The chronology of the Bunker Hill project proceedings is as follows in pertinent part:

April 15, 1948—Pursuant to section 332011 the Council adopted a resolution declaring a need for a redevelopment agency in the City of Los Angeles and thereafter the Mayor appointed five members of the Agency.

September 27, 1951—The Council adopted a resolution authorizing the Agency or the Los Angeles City Planning Commission (hereinafter called the ‘Planning Commission’) to designate redevelopment areas (sections 33480–33481).

October 31, 1951—The Agency adopted a resolution designating fifteen areas within the City of Los Angeles as blighted and requiring study to determine if redevelopment projects within said areas were feasible. Included within Area No. 1, known as Center Redevelopment Area 1, is the area embraced within the Bunker Hill project. At the time of the designation of said Central Redevelopment Area 1 as a redevelopment area there existed, as required by sections 33451 and 33452, a City Planning Commission and a master community plan which had been adopted by the Planning Commission which included the matters set forth in section 33452.

August 11, 1955—The Planning Commission selected from within Central Redevelopment Area 1, the project area for the Bunker Hill project and formulated a preliminary plan therefor consisting of a preliminary report and a preliminary plan map (§ 33500).

August 15, 1955—The Planning Commission submitted said preliminary plan to the Agency and the Agency thereafter, with the cooperation of the Planning Commission, formulated and prepared a tentative plan which was approved by the Planning Commission on March 26, 1956. (§ 33502).

March 21, 1956—Pursuant to sections 33530, 33534, and 33535, the Agency conducted a public hearing on the tentative plan after publication of notice thereof pursuant to section 33531 (the sufficiency of such publication of notice being an issue herein) and mailing of notice thereof pursuant to section 33533. At said hearing opportunity was given to all interested persons and public and private agencies to be heard and to submit alternative redevelopment plans for the project area.

June 15, 1956—The Agency submitted said tentative plan to the Council together with the Agency's report thereon in accordance with section 33560.

July 10, through September 6, 1956—Pursuant to sections 33562 through 33567, the Council conducted a hearing on the adoption of the tentative plan after fixing the date thereof and causing notice thereof to be published as required by section 33563. At such hearing the Council considered the report of the Agency and the recommendation and report of the Planning Commission, considered the alternative redevelopment plan submitted to the Council, providing an opportunity for all interested persons and agencies to be heard, received evidence and communications presented with respect to the tentative plan and alternative plans and submitted the alternative plans and suggested modifications of the tentative plan to the Agency and to the Planning Commission for recommendations and reports, which recommendations and reports were submitted to the Council within thirty days thereafter.

November 7, 1956—The Council adopted ordinance No. 108,424, approving the tentative plan (said ordinance included the matters specified by section 33571).

Thereafter, pursuant to section 33573 the Council caused to be filed with the County Recorder a description of the land within the project area and a statement that proceedings for the redevelopment of said area had been commenced under the Community Redevelopment Law. At all times since the adoption of the tentative plan, pursuant to section 33574, all applicants for building permits in the project area have been advised by the Building and Safety Department of the City that sites for such building permits where sought were within a proposed redevelopment area.

May 7, 1958—Pursuant to sections 33700 through 33710, the Agency with the cooperation of the Planning Commission, formulated and adopted a redevelopment plan (hereinafter referred to as the ‘final plan’) for the project area.

May 7, 1958—Pursuant to section 33701, and prior to the adoption of the final plan, the Agency adopted and made available for public inspection rules implementing the provisions for owner participation as provided in the final plan.

May 8, 1958—Pursuant to section 33704, the final plan was submitted to the Planning Commission for its report and recommendation. On May 15, 1958, the Planning Commission considered and approved the final plan and determined that it conformed to the adopted master community plan and on May 16, 1958, the Planning Commission made and filed with the Agency its report and recommendation that the final plan be approved.

May 21, 1958—The Agency submitted the final plan together with the report and recommendation of the Planning Commission to the Council. The council fixed a time and place for public hearing on the adoption of the final plan and caused notice thereof to be published pursuant to section 33730.

June 24, 1958, through January 8, 1959—Pursuant to sections 33730 through 33741, the Council conducted a public hearing on the final plan on various dates, at which hearing the Council considered the final plan, all alternative plans submitted and all evidence and testimony for and against the adoption of the final plan and the alternative plans.

March 31, 1958—The Council adopted ordinance No. 113,231 in form and substance as required by law, approving and adopting the final plan as the official redevelopment plan for the project area.

October 6, 1959—The Agency adopted its resolution authorizing the issuance of bonds of an aggregate face value of not to exceed $20,000,000 the principal and interest of which are to be payable from funds which include taxes allocated to the Agency pursuant to sections 33950 through 33954.

Trial was had in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County on various dates between November 4, 1960 and December 8, 1960. On April 20, 1961, Judge Richards issued a lengthy and scholarly memorandum decision.

On July 21, 1961, findings of fact and conclusions of law were filed in each action. On July 25, 1961, judgment in favor of the Agency was entered in the Agency's special proceeding in rem. In substance it was therein decreed that the Agency is lawfully established and entitled to transact business and exercise its powers pursuant to the redevelopment law; that all acts and proceedings theretofore taken by the Agency, City Planning Commission and City Council in the designation of Central Redevelopment Area No. 1, the designation of the project area, the formulation and adoption of the preliminary plan, the formulation and adoption of the tentative plan, and the formulation and adoption of the final redevelopment plan were legal and valid; that the final plan as finally adopted by the City Council on March 31, 1959, by ordinance No. 113,231, is legal, valid and effective in all respects; that the Agency has lawful authority to issue bonds pursuant to the provisions of the final plan; that all acts and proceedings proposed to be taken thereafter for the authorization, issuance, sale and delivery of said bonds and for the payment of the principal thereof and the interest thereon were and are legal and valid in all respects; that the bonds when duly issued as provided in Agency resolution 193 will be valid in all respects; enjoined the institution by any person of any action or proceeding raising any issue or matter adjudicated therein or which could have been adjudicated therein, and awarded the Agency its costs of suit incurred therein.

Judgment was also entered on July 25, 1961, for the Agency, the City, the City Council and the City Treasurer in (as appropriate) the Goldman, Babcock, Swigart, Trautwein and Redwine actions. The various appeals followed.

The first contention raised on this appeal is that the trial court failed to accord the proper scope of review to the acts of the Agency and Council.2

Respondent Agency concedes that the ‘City Council, when acting under the Redevelopment Law, acted as an administrative arm of the state to carry out state objectives. In doing so it functioned under state law, not under the City Charter * * *. That local legislative bodies such as the City Council herein act as state administrative agencies when acting under the Redevelopment Laws was explicitly established by Fellom v. Redevelopment Agency, 157 Cal.App.2d 243, 247–248 [320 P.2d 884] (1954) [hearing denied]; and Andrews v. City of San Bernardino, 175 Cal.App.2d 459, 461–463 [346 P.2d 457] (1958) [hearing denied].’ (Italics indicated.)

Respondent Agency relies in large part upon the case of Babcock v. Community Redev. Agency, 148 Cal.App.2d 38, 306 P.2d 513, for the proposition that the court is not empowered to substitute its determination for the determination of the Agency or the Council in the absence of abuse of discretion, fraud, collusion, or bad faith on the part of the Agency or the Council.

In the Babcock case, plaintiff sought to enjoin the Agency from contracting with the Federal Government or expending public funds for the redevelopment area and further sought a declaratory judgment that the jurisdictional prerequisites for the redevelopment of the project area did not exist. The trial court sustained demurrers and plaintiff appealed from the judgment dismissing the action.

Division 3 of the District Court of Appeal, speaking through Mr. Justice Parker Wood with the concurrence of Mr. Justice Shinn stated that many of the allegations were conclusions of law and were thus not admitted by the demurrer. The court thereafter indicated that the court is not empowered to substitute its determination for the determination of the Agency or Council.

Mr. Justice Valle$e concurred on the sole ground that plaintiff's action was premature since the Agency had not yet prepared even a preliminary plan and had, therefore, not determined that the area should be redeveloped. However, Mr. Justice Valle$e concluded that the Agency is a state Agency whose final administrative orders or decisions are reviewable by a court exercising its independent judgment on the evidence.

In examining the record on appeal of the Babcock case, it appears that neither side cited section 33746 of the Health and Safety Code to the District Court of Appeal and that neither the majority opinion nor the concurring opinion mentioned said section.

Subsequent to the Babcock decision, section 33746 was amended to provide specifically for judicial review of the findings and determinations of the Agency and Council.3 We believe that the legislature intended to provide for a broader scope of review than that which existed prior to the amendments to section 33746—that the trial court exercise its independent judgment on the evidence.

No useful purpose would be served by discussion of the numerous other contentions raised on this appeal. The judgments and each of them are reversed and the matter is remanded to the trial court with directions to accord the proper scope of review.

FOOTNOTES

1.  All section references are to the Health and Safety Code unless indicated to the contrary.

2.  The trial court took the position that ‘in proceeding under the Community Redevelopment Law, the Agency and the Council are performing legislative functios' and limited his review to the question of whether there was any reasonable basis for the action taken by the administrative bodies, and he refused to exercise his independent judgment on the evidence.

3.  Section 33746 as amended Stats.1957, c. 1696, p. 3069, § 5, provided in pertinent part as follows: ‘The findings and determinations of an agency and of a legislative body or of either of them, in the adoption and approval of any redevelopment plan or of any urban renewal plan or of any combination of such plans may be judicially reviewed by a court of competent jurisdiction. Such action must be brought within 90 days after the date of adoption of the ordinance approving the plan. No action shall be brought prior to the adoption of the final redevelopment plan.’ (This act was in effect at the time of the adoption of the final plan by the City Council.) Section 33746 as amended Stats.1959, c. 1102, p. 3181, § 18, provided as follows: ‘The findings and determinations of an agency and of a legislative body or of either of them, in the adoption and approval of any redevelopment plan may be judicially reviewed by a court of competent jurisdiction. Such action must be brought within 60 days after the date of adoption of the ordinance approving the plan. No action shall be brought prior to the adoption of the final redevelopment plan.’ [Note: Section 33746 was again amended in 1961—Stats.1961, c. 1557, p. 3381, § 3.]

FOURT, Justice.

LILLIE, J., concurs. WOOD, P. J., dissents.

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