In 1955 a public motor coach service was substituted for public electric railway service over an easement granted for an electric railway.
Seven grants in case date from early 1900s.
Typically conveyed rights of way for the construction and operation of a RR into central LA.
Original grantors subdivided and sold all of their land abutting the right of way except strips along the edges of the right of way, which were given over for public streets.
Streetcar service maintained until 1955.
At various times, LA paved certain portions of the rights of way lying parallel to the track. No objection was raised by original grantors/heirs.
In 1955, CA authorized cessation of streetcar services on the condition that the LA transit lines provide substitute motor coach service along the same routes.
Route was terminated, and city took the land by condemnation.
P has located all the heirs of the original grantors and commenced an action urging that the city's use of the land violated the conditions in the original deed and entitled him to an award.
P says this conflicts with the terms of the instrument, causing a destruction of the easement to which the parcels were subject.
City of LA urges that the uses are not inconsistent with the terms of the original grant, because the underlying purpose of the grants was to make sure that the inhabitants of the properties could enjoy public transport that was technologically feasible.
Language of the deed says grantors wanted to be sure that the transportation stop at available places for boarding.
Trial judge entered judgment for Ps.
Supreme Ct reversed, held for Ds.
Can an easement granted exclusively for the creation of a public electric railway service be used, fifty years later, for a public motor coach service instead?
The present use of the subject parcels sufficiently complies with the purposes of the grantors to permit survival of the easement.
50 years of change have created a system where motor buses are preferred.
The conveyance, having by its nature a prospective operation, should be assumed to have intended to accommodate future needs.
Such changing conditions require reevaluation of restrictions laced upon the use of real property.
Other decisions have held that part of land given for a pleasure park or beach could be paved for a parking lot due to changing transportation or that park land could be used as a rubbish dump that would then be filled to create a recreational area.
Land given for canals in a Venice-type area was permitted to be filled in and paved as streets. Said that although the parties may not have actually contemplated the conversion of the canals to streets, it was in the legal contemplation that they were to be used for all purposes by which the object of their creation could be promoted.
The substitution in this case is less extensive than that in the Wattson case (canals).
Must be viewed in light of its public effect.
Here, we deal with an improvement in public transportation for the benefit of the public.
In all of the precedent cases, the court approved a more efficient and publicly beneficial means to achieve the deed's underlying and main purpose.