Southern Pacific Company v. City of Portland/Opinion of the Court
|Southern Pacific Company v. City of Portland by
Opinion of the Court
United States Supreme Court
SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMPANY v. CITY OF PORTLAND
Argued: January 6, 1913. --- Decided: February 24, 1913
The bill alleged that, by virtue of the laws of the state and its charter, the city of Portland passed ordinance 599, permitting cars to be run along 4th street. That ordinance reserved the right 'to make and alter regulations' and to 'prohibit the running of locomotives.' And as the court held that this reserve power authorized the city to prohibit the use of steam, the appellant though originally contending that ordinance 599 was valid and constituted a contract which could not be impaired-now insists that under the law of force in 1869, the city could only 'designate' the street on which tracks could be located, and could not, by reservation, give itself power to prohibit the use of steam or the hauling of freight cars, nor could it provide for municipal forfeiture of a state franchise.
1. Under the Oregon Code (5077, 5078) the power to designate the street on which railroad tracks could be located was equivalent to the power to consent to the use of that street. The city was not limited to merely naming the thoroughfare, or giving or refusing its consent. But- provided they did not defeat the state franchise-could fix terms and reserve powers beyond those otherwise possessed by it as a municipality. The specific conditions and general powers reserved in § 3 of ordinance 599 were not inconsistent with the grant from the state, and when, with such reservation, it was accepted by the company, it became contractual as well as legislative. The railroad could not rely on it for the purpose of laying the tracks, and then deny the validity of such conditions. The ordinance was proposed and accepted as an entire contract, and, as such, was binding on the railroad as well as on the city. The power therein reserved 'to make regulations,' coupled with the right 'to prohibit the running of locomotives at such time and in such manner as the city might deem necessary,' authorized the city to prohibit the use of steam locomotives. This did not defeat the grant, inasmuch as it was permissible and practicable to use electricity, gasolene, or other motive power free from noise and vibration-increased here above the ordinary when steam was used on a grade said to be one of the steepest, if not the steepest, in the state. The case is like Richmond, F. & P. R. Co. v. Richmond, 96 U.S. 521, 24 L. ed. 734, where, under a somewhat similar ordinance, it was held that the city might provide that no car or engine could be drawn or propelled by steam along certain parts of the highway.
2. The appellant insists, however, that even if the city can regulate the motive power, it cannot prohibit the hauling of freight cars, and that the invalidity of this provision and that forfeiting the franchise renders the whole ordinance 16,491 void. In reply it is contended that even if there were no other route than 4th street by which to reach the terminals, it might be necessary for the railroad to establish a freight depot in another part of the city, and make transfers by other vehicles, rather than to continue to haul freight cars through 4th street; but that, in any event, the 'entire ordinance would not be void if that portion relating to freight trains were found to be invalid.'
The provisions relating to motive power, prohibiting the hauling of freight cars, and declaring a forfeiture for a violation of the ordinance, are so far separable that they do not necessarily stand or fall together, and therefore the regulation against the use of steam can be enforced without regard to the validity of the prohibition against hauling freight cars. Missouri ex rel. Laclede Gaslight Co. v. Murphy, 170 U.S. 99, 42 L. ed. 964, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 505.
3. Even if the city could have contracted for the right to revoke the state's franchise, the council did not attempt to reserve a power to repeal, but only that it might make and alter regulations; and ordinance 16,491, whether treated as an exercise of the general police or special reserve power, recognized that the carrier might use electricity to haul passenger cars. There is nothing in that ordinance or in this record which indicates that there is any difference in result in the operation of the two classes of cars, or that the company has less right to haul one than the other. The lessee, and its assignors, as common carriers, were charged with the duty of operating both, and ordinance 599, in permitting a railway track to be laid in 4th street, expressly authorized cars to be run thereon. Manifestly that gave the right to the company to transport freight as well as passengers. But if the city can prohibit the company from operating one set of cars, it can prevent the use of the other; and under the power to regulate, it could thus defeat the franchise granted by the state of Oregon, and impair the contract under which the tracks were located, and on the faith of which the terminals were constructed.
But while the power to regulate does not authorize the city to prohibit the use of the tracks in hauling freight cars, it may legislate in the light of facts and conditions which would make restrictions reasonable and valid regulations. The extent of the power of the city and the rights of the company, however, ought not to be finally adjudicated on this record. For while the ordinance was attacked as a whole, and there was some testimony that it would be possible to reach the terminals over other railways and by means of a belt line then being constructed for handling through freight, but not finished, yet the evidence was directed to the injurious consequences resulting from the use of steam, and not from hauling cars. The bill was filed primarily to enjoin the city from prosecuting the company for running a steam locomotive. In sustaining the ordinance as a whole, the court called attention to the fact that the street was quite steep throughout the business district, and the noise, vibration, cinders, and soot from the moving steam locomotive and train seriously interfere with the transaction of business, and were a source of danger and inconvenience to the public. But nothing appears to show that the noise or danger would be different in character or result from that caused by the running of other electric cars, or that there was any reason why freight cars should be prohibited when passenger cars were permitted to be run. The city has the undoubted right to make regulations as to cars used in the transportation of local freight to and from the terminal. If, as claimed, the belt line, when completed, will afford convenient and accessible means of handling through cars without the necessity of going through 4th street, that fact may be given the weight to which it is entitled when regulations are made. But those issues were not clearly raised nor specifically ruled on by the lower court, and the city has neither attempted to prosecute for hauling freight cars nor attempted to enforce a forfeiture. These questions ought not to be determined here until such issues have been more definitely considered by the court of original jurisdiction. Without prejudice to the right of either when such questions arise, the refusal to enjoin the prosecution for running a steam locomotive and the order entering a decree dismissing the bill must be affirmed.
Mr. Justice Hughes and Mr. Justice Pitney concur in the result.
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