Eminent Domain-Urban Renewal-Broader Powers to Take Private Property for Public Use

Defendant city instituted a comprehensive urban redevelopment plan under which condemnation and purchase of blighted property would be followed by extensive demolition and clearance. This land was then to be sold subject to certain use restrictions to private developers, chiefly for light industry. Plaintiff, an owner of real estate described as “improved and enhanced with . . . a good, sound, sanitary, modem and well-kept building,” brought an action in a lower state court seeking a declaratory judgment against the constitutionality of the Washington Urban Renewal Law, and an injunction to prevent defendant city from condemning his property under the statute. The owner contended that resale to private persons would constitute use of the eminent domain power for a private purpose. The trial court gave summary judgment for the defendant city. On appeal, held, affirmed, by a five-to-four decision. Condemnation, acquisition, and demolition by public authority of substandard or blighted areas of urban land is a public use justifying the exercise of the eminent domain power, and subsequent resale of cleared land to private persons is only incidental to the main, constitutionally valid purpose. Miller v. City of Tacoma, 61 Wash. 2d 374, 378 P.2d 464 (1963).