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Definition Of Public Use Is Further Expanded


In Rindge Co. v. Los Angeles County, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a city council can take private ranch land to build a public highway, even though it does not connect with any other roads except at its entry and end points. The Court holds that for the improvement to be considered a public use, it is “not essential that the entire community, nor even any considerable portion, should directly enjoy or participate in any improvement.” The Court also notes that the road will give the public access to some of California’s most scenic coastline, which also qualifies as a valid public use: “Public uses are not limited, in the modern view, to matters of mere business necessity and ordinary convenience, but may extend to matters of public health, recreation and enjoyment.” Like the Fallbrook Irrigation District case (1986), this case was decided before the takings clause was extended to the states and thus relies on the 14th Amendment’s due process clause rather than the Fifth Amendment.