Rindge Co. v. County of Los Angeles

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Rindge Co. v. County of Los Angeles
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued April 26, 1923
Decided June 11, 1923
Full case name Rindge Co., et al. v. County of Los Angeles
Citations 262 U.S. 700 (more)
A county government can use its power of eminent domain to take land from a private landowner to build a scenic highway.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Sanford
Sutherland took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Rindge Co. v. County of Los Angeles, 262 U.S. 700 (1923), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that a county government could use its power of eminent domain to take land from a private landowner to build a scenic highway.

these roads, especially the main road, through its connection with the public road coming along the shore from Santa Monica, will afford a highway for persons desiring to travel along the shore to the county line, with a view of the ocean on one side, and of the mountain range on the other, constituting, as stated by the trial judge, a scenic highway of great beauty. 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. Thus, the condemnation of lands for public parks is now universally recognized as a taking for public use. A road need not be for a purpose of business to create a public exigency; air, exercise and recreation are important to the general health and welfare; pleasure travel may be accommodated as well as business travel; and highways may be condemned to places of pleasing natural scenery.


According to the Adamson House tour guides:

In 1892, Henry Keller sold the 13,000-acre (53 km2) Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit or 'Rancho Malibu' to May and Frederick H. Rindge, for a price variously reported as $10-$22 per acre. Keller, it is said, had acquired it for 10 cents an acre in 1854. Rindge, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, had recently inherited an estate of more than $2 million and moved to Los Angeles, California, where he wrote a book called "Happy Days in Southern California." Then he looked for "a farm near the ocean, and under the lee of the mountain, with a trout brook, wild trees, a lake, good soil, and excellent climate." He found his farm in Malibu Canyon. He described the Malibu coast as the American Riviera.[1]

May Rindge of Cambridge, Massachusetts formerly owned 17,000 acres (69 km2) of ranch land that today is the city of Malibu, California. First, the Southern Pacific Railroad tried to take her land, so, according to the city of Malibu:

Upon hearing of the Southern Pacific's plans, Mr. Rindge decided to build a private railroad through his ranch to keep the bigger railroad company out of his domain. A little-known law prevented duplication of an existing railroad line. Before any tracks could be laid, however, Mr. Rindge died. It was left to his widow to carry out his plans, which she did with 15 miles (24 km) of standard gauge tracks called the Hueneme, Malibu and Port Los Angeles Railway. May Rindge became its president and one of the few women ever to become president of a railroad.[2]

The rails were later reused to build Rindge Dam.

According to Malibu Complete,

The first wave of lawsuits for more access started in 1907 and were not settled fully until 1917 by which time both Federal and California state courts decided in Rindge's favor, that she could restrict access to roads crossing her private land, including the beach. However, that victory was upset in 1919 when Los Angeles County bowed to public pressure and used the courts to condemn the right-of-way and begin construction of a road. Mrs. Rindge continued the fight in court, and to resist survey and construction work, but merely delayed the road. Overcoming all of May Rindge's objections, the County Road through Malibu Ranch was finally opened for the public on November 3, 1921.[3]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Bell, Julius Raymond (1931). "Public Purpose in Taxation and Eminent Domain. The Construction of Highways, Roads and Bridges". Virginia Law Review. Virginia Law Review, Vol. 18, No. 1. 18 (1): 50–67. doi:10.2307/1066374. JSTOR 1066374. 
  • Phillips, Jewell Cass (1937). "Excess Condemnation for City, County, Township and Regional Planning". Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics. The Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics, Vol. 13, No. 2. 13 (2): 174–180. doi:10.2307/3158709. JSTOR 3158709. 

External links[edit]