Dolan v. City of Tigard – Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Dolan v. City of Tigard (1994) 512 U.S. 374, a commercial property owner challenged certain public floodplain and pathway dedications of her property that the City of Tigard required as a condition to approval of a permit for development of her property. (Dolan v. City of Tigard, supra, 512 U.S. at pp. 379-382.)

Acknowledging Nollan's essential nexus requirement was satisfied in its case, Dolan addressed the question of the required degree of connection between the exactions imposed by the city and the projected impact of the proposed development. (Id. at pp. 377, 386-388.)

Dolan concluded that the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, requires rough proportionality between the exactions imposed and the projected impact of the proposed development. (Id. at pp. 383-384, 391.)

Dolan stated:

"No precise mathematical calculation is required, but the city must make some sort of individualized determination that the required dedication is related both in nature and extent to the impact of the proposed development." (Id. at p. 391, )

Dolan concluded the city "must make some effort to quantify its findings" in support of the required dedication "beyond the conclusory statement that it could offset some of the traffic demand generated." (Id. at pp. 395-396.)

The Supreme Court recognized that, "under the well-settled doctrine of 'unconstitutional conditions,' the government may not require a person to give up a constitutional right . . . in exchange for a discretionary benefit conferred by the government." 512 U.S. at 385, 114 S. Ct. at 2317, 129 L. Ed. 2d at 316.

In Dolan, the plaintiff had applied for a permit to enlarge her store and expand a paved parking area.

The city conditioned the permit on the plaintiff's dedication of portions of her property for public use.

The Court found that, for such a condition to be valid, there must be an "essential nexus" between the city's legitimate interest and the anticipated effects of development. Id. at 386-87, 114 S. Ct. at 2317-18, 129 L. Ed. 2d at 316.

In Dolan v. City of Tigard, the court elaborated on the degree of connection that is required between the exactions imposed by the governmental entity and the adverse effects of the proposed development.

Essentially, the governmental entity seeking to impose a development condition has the burden of proving that the "nature and extent" of the condition is "roughly proportionate" to the "nature and extent" of any adverse impact from the development. (Dolan, at p. 391.)