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GREEN STREET ASSOCIATION v. DALEY

February 10, 1966

GREEN STREET ASSOCIATION, AN ILLINOIS NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION, JAMES BATTS, VELMA BATTS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RICHARD J. DALEY, CITY OF CHICAGO, DEPARTMENT OF URBAN RENEWAL OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, LEWIS W. HILL, ROBERT C. WEAVER, WILLIAM L. SLAYTON AND A. DEAN SWARTZEL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robson, District Judge.

In October of 1965 plaintiffs filed this five-count complaint which seeks to enjoin further action by defendants in a proposed urban renewal project in Chicago. The action is brought by the Green Street Association, a nonprofit corporation organized for protecting and promoting the interests of residents of the Central Englewood area, and by some 127 individual plaintiffs, all Negroes who are owners or lessees of realty in that area. The Central Englewood area is a small part of the much larger Englewood Conservation area.

Count I of the complaint, which names only local Chicago defendants, alleges that the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency granted the City of Chicago $250,000 for survey and planning work on an urban renewal plan in the Central Englewood area, to which the City of Chicago contributed $25,000. Plaintiffs assert that the plan calls for a $13,000,000 expenditure for condemnation, acquisition and demolition of some 300 buildings consisting of 600 dwelling units, which are 85% inhabited by Negroes, on the ground of the need for revitalizing the commercial centers in the area. That plan was approved by the Chicago City Council in July of 1964.

Plaintiffs assert that since the area is one which has regularly been declining in business trade and is also one in which many of the buildings are "standard," the "project" is not a good faith urban renewal plan but an effort to accomplish Negro clearance in the expectation of reclaiming and re-establishing the commercial trade and business of white customers.

Plaintiffs allege that Mayor Richard J. Daley, the City of Chicago, the Department of Urban Renewal and its commissioner, Lewis Hill, and several large commercial interests in the area have conspired together to create a no-Negro "buffer zone" between the shopping area and the surrounding residential community in order to make the shopping area more attractive to white persons.

Count II names both local and federal defendants. The federal defendants include Robert C. Weaver, Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, William L. Slayton, Commissioner of the Urban Renewal Administration of said agency, and A. Dean Swartzel, Regional Director of the Urban Renewal Administration for Region No. IV, which includes the City of Chicago.

Count II alleges that Section 105(d) of the National Housing Act of 1949, 42 U.S.C. § 1450 et seq., requires a "public hearing" by a local agency prior to acquisition of land for an approved federal urban renewal project. It also alleges that the only hearing ever conducted in respect to the Central Englewood project occurred when interested persons were permitted to read statements before the Committee on Housing and Planning of the Chicago City Council. Plaintiffs assert that proper notice was not given and they were denied the right to call witnesses, present evidence, and to confront defendants to determine their reasons for support of the project and were harassed and intimidated by committee members.

Count II seeks a declaration that plaintiffs have been denied a full and fair hearing, and that the "project" was not validly approved by the Chicago City Council, and to enjoin the institution of condemnation suits until a full and fair public hearing has been held.

Count III names both local and federal defendants. It alleges that the intent of Congress in passing the National Housing Act of 1949 was to rectify housing shortages and provide decent and suitable housing for all American families. Plaintiffs assert that the "project" violates that purpose because it involves destruction of good and adequate residential housing and expands commercial, not residential facilities, and therefore takes private property for private, not public use.

This count asks the court to adjudicate the "project" as arbitrary, capricious and unlawful and that the acts of defendants in approving such plan deprive plaintiffs of property rights without due process of law. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that defendant Weaver violated the Housing Act of 1949 in approving this "project" although the objects of the Act could have been accomplished through rehabilitation of the project area, not by destruction.

Count IV, naming both local and federal defendants, alleges that Section 105(c) of the Housing Act of 1949 requires that contracts for loans shall provide a "feasible" plan for relocating displacees and that defendants have failed to comply with this statutory requirement. Plaintiffs assert that because of the segregated nature of the City of Chicago the vast majority of Negroes live in "ghettoes." They reason that plaintiffs will be able to find new housing only in these "ghettoes" and will, therefore, be subjected to facilities less sanitary and desirable than their present housing and will pay more for purchase or rental.

Secondly, this count asserts that because the Department of Urban Renewal has in the past referred families displaced from urban renewal projects to relocation facilities determined by their race in accordance with the segregated residential pattern of the City, the project therefore provides separate relocation facilities determined by race. The plaintiffs conclude that the "project" recognizes and accepts the separate relocation facilities based on race and proposes to relocate plaintiffs in conformity with this pattern whereby it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.), in that it plans to subject plaintiffs to discrimination under a program and activity receiving federal financial assistance in violation of Section 601 of the Act.

Plaintiffs pray that the relocation plan of the "project" be adjudged invalid and unconstitutional as it will deprive them of equal protection of the law; that it will violate their rights under Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that it violates the Housing Act of 1949 as it does not contain an adequate, realistic and feasible plan for relocation of plaintiffs.

Count V, which names only local defendants, alleges that the "project" is contrary to Sections 3 and 21 of the Illinois Urban Renewal Consolidation Act of 1961 (Ill.Rev.Stat. 1965, ch. 67 1/2, § 91.101 et seq.), as the project area is not a "conservation area" within the definition of the Act and because it never was approved by a validly constituted "Conservation Community Council" as required by the Act.

Plaintiffs ask the court to declare that the "project" is contrary to the Urban Renewal Consolidation Act of 1961 and is, therefore, illegal.

Both the local and federal defendants have moved to dismiss. The issues have been fully briefed and were also argued orally.

The defendants assert as the grounds for dismissal: (1) there is a lack of federal jurisdiction as none of the acts of these defendants deprives plaintiffs of any legal rights; (2) there is no substantial federal question raised by the complaint; (3) no plaintiff has a standing to sue; (4) the statute, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, grants no rights to these plaintiffs; (5) plaintiffs have an adequate remedy at law, and (6) the United States is an indispensable party and has not been joined and has not consented to be sued.

Defendants also assert that Robinette v. Chicago Land Clearance Commission, 115 F. Supp. 669 (N.D.Ill. 1951), and Harrison-Halsted Community Group, Inc. v. Housing and Home Finance Agency, 310 F.2d 99 (7th Cir. 1962), are authority for their position that this complaint does not raise a substantial federal question. In particular, defendants maintain that the Harrison-Halsted case, supra, is determinative of every issue raised by plaintiffs in this case.

Plaintiffs deny that the Harrison-Halsted case is controlling and counter that in Progress Development Corporation v. Mitchell, 286 F.2d 222 (7th Cir. 1961), where the plaintiff, a real estate development company, after disclosure of a plan to sell houses on an integrated basis roughly in proportion of Negroes to whites in Chicago, and after certain parties took preliminary steps to condemn its property, filed suit prior to the actual institution of condemnation proceedings, the court held that Count III, which charged a conspiracy in terms similar to the conspiracy charged in Count I of the instant complaint at bar, was wrongfully dismissed by the district court. Plaintiffs differentiate the Harrison-Halsted case, which had no count such as did the Progress Development case and this action, and that therefore the Harrison-Halsted decision is not authority for dismissal.

The court concludes, however, that the Harrison-Halsted decision is completely dispositive of the instant suit and requires its dismissal. There, as here, plaintiffs sought an injunction to prevent government agencies from proceeding with plans to acquire and clear, under an urban renewal program, an area in Chicago. The plaintiffs there were an association and individuals owning property in the area. There, also, the complaint was made of the inadequacies of the hearing before the City Council, or the Land Clearance Commission, the State Housing Board, and the HHFA. Allegations were made in the Harrison-Halsted case that there resided in the Harrison-Halsted tract two minority groups, Negroes and Mexicans, "against whom there is, at the present time, in Chicago, extensive discrimination in housing; that the University site project will force these people out of the area. This loss in minority group housing is not being replaced elsewhere in the community." There was also an allegation that one portion "constituted the least deteriorated portion * * * of the area" and "most of the remaining part is occupied by perfectly sound residential structures." ...


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