Home » Case Summaries » 1995 » Hoeck v. City of Portland


Hoeck v. City of Portland



Hans Hoeck owned the Bridgeport Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He planned to renovate it and convert it to an office building. After renovation commenced, Mr. Hoeck’s financing was discontinued because his lender became insolvent. He was unable to obtain new financing and, therefore, unable to continue with the renovation. The building remained vacant for three years.

After the Bureau of Buildings filed a complaint, the Code Hearings Officer (CHO) presided over five administrative hearings to determine if the Bridgeport was an abandoned and dangerous structure. By the time of the last hearing, the Bridgeport was no longer dangerous, as it has been secured and was structurally sound. Nevertheless, the CHO ordered the building demolished because it was abandoned. The CHO’s ruling was affirmed twice in CountyCircuit Court, and the city began demolition.

Mr. Hoeck filed suit in federal court claiming a violation of due process and that the city could not assess demolition costs against him. He also asserted a state law inverse condemnation claim based on the district court’s pendent jurisdiction. The district court granted summary judgment for the City of Portland on all claims.

Mr. Hoeck claimed the demolition of the building without paying him compensation violated his right to due process. The Ninth Circuit reasoned that substantive due process provides protection for fundamental rights, and that Mr. Hoeck’s claim is not based on a fundamental right. The demolition had a rational basis–abandonment. Under the Portland City Code, the city has authority to demolish abandoned buildings. The Ninth Circuit found the city did not act in a clearly arbitrary and unreasonable manner and affirmed the district court. Because the city did not violate Mr. Hoeck’s due process rights, his claim for declaratory relief was denied.

Mr. Hoeck next claimed the demolition was a physical taking. The Ninth Circuit determined an action is not a physical taking if the state is merely enforcing a valid land-use regulation. If Mr. Hoeck had followed the regulation, the city would not have demolished his building. Mr. Hoeck claimed the demolition was a regulatory taking because he was denied economically viable use of his property. However, to demolish his building is within the police power of the city. In addition, the city acquired no rights, so the demolition was not a taking for a public use. Finding that the demolition was not a regulatory taking, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court.

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