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Chesebro v. Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist., 306 U.S. 459 (1939)

Chesebro v. Los Angeles County Flood Control District

No. 368

Argued February 1, 2, 1939

Decided March 27, 1939

306 U.S. 459


1. By an amendment of the Los Angeles County Flood Control Act, the flood control district created by that Act was authorized to acquire certain designated drainage improvements located in a number of drainage districts embraced within the flood control district, and to levy special assessments upon real estate within the flood control district to meet drainage district obligations thereupon assumed by the flood control district. An owner of land located within the flood control district, but outside of any of the drainage districts involved, sought by a proceeding in the state court to prevent assessments under the amending Act, on the ground that he was entitled to a hearing on the question of benefits, and that, without such opportunity, his property would be taken without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The state court ruled, in effect, that the legislature had impliedly made a finding as to benefits, and that therefore owners were not entitled to be heard on that question. On appeal to this Court, the owner contends that there was no foundation for the ruling of the state court that the legislature had made a finding of benefits, and insists that the amending Act deprives him of his constitutional right to be heard.


(1) The validity of the statute was appropriately drawn in question in the state court, and its decision in substance was in favor of the validity. P. 306 U. S. 463.

(2) The question presented is not foreclosed by previous decisions of this Court, nor so clearly undebatable as to require dismissal for lack of substance. P. 306 U. S. 463.

(3) A contention that the judgment of the state court rested upon an independent and adequate nonfederal ground lacked merit. P. 306 U. S. 463.

(4) The state court's ruling that impliedly the legislature made the requisite findings as to benefits was not without adequate foundation, and its judgment must be sustained. P. 306 U. S. 466.

2. Where, within the scope of its power, the legislature itself has found that the lands embraced within a special assessment district will be

Page 306 U. S. 460

specially benefited by certain improvements, prior appropriate and adequate inquiry is presumed, and, in the absence of flagrant abuse or purely arbitrary action, the finding is conclusive. Formal or express findings are not essential. P. 306 U. S. 464.

11 Cal.2d 395, 80 P.2d 479, affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment of the state supreme court denying a writ of mandate. As to the City of Los Angeles, a co-appellant, the appeal was dismissed for want of a federal question, 305 U.S. 564.

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