Dolan v. City of Tigard Case Brief

Why is the case important?

A condition of a permit stated that the landowner had to convey property to the government.

Facts of the case


Does an impermissible taking of property occur when a city requires a landowner to convey property to the city in order to get a permit to redevelop property?


One purpose of the takings clause is to bar the government from forcing some people to bear public burdens, which should be borne by the public as a whole. Had the city simply required Petitioner to dedicate a strip of land along the creek for public use, rather than conditioning the grant of her permit to redevelop her property on such a dedication, a taking would have occurred. Such public access would deprive Petitioner the right to exclude others.
However, a land use regulation does not constitute a taking if it substantially advances legitimate state interests and does not economically viable use of his land.
A determination must be made as to whether the essential nexus exists between the legitimate state interest and the permit condition exacted by the city. If the nexus exists, then a determination must be made as to the required degree of connection between the exactions and the projected impact of the proposed development. There must be a rough proportionality between the demands of the city and the impact of the proposed development.
Here, the prevention of flooding and reduction of traffic are legitimate public purposes, and a nexus exists between preventing flooding and limiting development.
But as for the rough proportionality test, 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. Here, the city has never explained why a public greenway, as opposed to a private one, was required in the interest of flood control. Petitioner has lost her ability to exclude others, which is one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of property rights. It is difficult to see why recreational visitors walking on the land is sufficiently related o the city’s legitimate interest in reducing flooding problems along the creek, and the city has not attempted to make any individualized determination to support this request.


The government is not allowed to impose a land use restriction on a property unless it is found that there is a proportionality on the conditions imposed of the land use. The Supreme Court of Oregon found that the conditions were reasonably related to the proposed development. On appeal, the Court held that there must be an essential nexus existing between the legitimate state interest and the permit conditions, and if the nexus does exist, then the exactions imposed  must be roughly proportionate to the projected impact of the proposed development. Respondent’s conditions were not reasonably related to the impact of the proposed development, and therefore, the judgment was overturned.

  • Case Brief: 1994
  • Petitioner: Florence Dolan
  • Respondent: City of Tigard
  • Decided by: Rehnquist Court

Citation: 512 US 374 (1994)
Argued: Mar 23, 1994
Decided: Jun 24, 1994