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BOUCHARD v. WASHINGTON

March 20, 1972

Andre BOUCHARD et al., Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
Walter E. WASHINGTON, Individually and as Mayor-Commissioner of the District of Columbia, et al., Defendants


Gasch, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH

GASCH, District Judge.

 This matter came on for consideration of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, the District of Columbia defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Federal defendants' motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, and the plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment.

 Plaintiffs are members of the Model Cities Commission and residents and representatives of the 80,000 persons residing within the District of Columbia Model Cities Neighborhood (hereinafter "Model Neighborhood"). They bring this action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the District of Columbia, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and certain officers and agents thereof. Plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring that the defendants' acts and omissions relating to the District of Columbia Comprehensive City Demonstration Program and to the Model Neighborhood violate the provisions of Title I of the Demonstrations Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966 (hereinafter "Model Cities Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 3301 et seq., and the administrative regulations promulgated thereunder. Specifically, plaintiffs claim that their rights relating to the "widespread citizen participation" and "local initiative" contained in Section 3303 of the Model Cities Act have been violated by the adoption and implementation of a revised administrative structure for the Model Cities Program. According to the plaintiffs, the new structure relegates the "citizens participation" component, the Model Cities Commission, to an advisory rather than policy-making body; eliminates the "Impasse Board" provisions to resolve issues between the Commission and the District government-controlled City Demonstration Agency (hereinafter "CDA") in favor of a procedure whereby the District government may arbitrarily dispose of such contested issues; and withdraws from the Commission the independent technical staff necessary to supply sufficient information for the evaluation and initiation of program proposals. Plaintiffs further argue that the District and Federal defendants have acted unlawfully in allowing employment within the Model Cities Program of non-residents of the Model Neighborhood. An adequate review and evaluation of plaintiffs' contentions requires a clear understanding of the purpose of the Model Cities Act and the circumstances surrounding the planning and approval of the modified administrative organization of the Model Cities Program.

 In an effort to alleviate the serious problems that confront American cities, Congress enacted the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966 and declared:

 
"* * * that improving the quality of urban life is the most critical domestic problem facing the United States. The persistence of widespread urban slums and blight, the concentration of persons of low income in older urban areas, and the unmet needs for additional housing and community facilities and services arising from rapid expansion of our urban population have resulted in a marked deterioration in the quality of the environment and the lives of large numbers of our people while the Nation as a whole prospers. * * *" 42 U.S.C. § 3301.

 The purpose of the Act was to "provide additional financial and technical assistance to enable cities . . . to plan, develop, and carry out locally prepared and scheduled comprehensive city demonstration programs containing new and imaginative proposals to rebuild or revitalize large slum and blighted areas . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 3301. See also House Report (Banking and Currency Committee) No. 1931, 89th Cong., 2d Sess. (1966), appearing at 1966 U.S. Code Cong. and Admin. News, p. 3999.

 Pursuant to the requirement of the Model Cities Act that "widespread citizen participation" be provided for in a model cities program, the Honorable Walter E. Washington, Mayor-Commissioner of the District of Columbia, issued Order of the Commissioner No. 68-761 on December 13, 1968, which established the Model Cities Commission as the "citizens participation" component of the program. The Order provided that the members of the Commission would be the elected representatives of the model area residents and the community at large. The Commission was directed to coordinate its approval of plans and proposals and its "decisionmaking activities through the Model Cities Administrator." *fn1" In the event that the Model Cities Administrator disapproved of a decision of the Commission, the Order provided that the disputed matter would be referred to an "Impasse Board" composed of two persons selected by the Commission, two persons selected by the Administrator and a fifth person selected by the other four. *fn2"

 After the issuance of Commissioner's Order No. 68-761, the First Year Action Plan was submitted to HUD on August 19, 1969, and approved on April 16, 1970. On September 15, 1971, the Second Year Action Plan was submitted to HUD and was approved on February 11, 1972. During the last few months of 1971 and the early part of 1972, it became increasingly apparent that the CDA and the Model Cities Administrator were seriously considering the need for revisions and improvements in the existing administrative structure of the Model Cities Program in order to achieve the tangible objectives of the Model Cities Act. After various meetings with the Commission, the Commission's staff, the CDA staff, the Commission's Administrative Committee, a special subcommittee consisting of three Commissioners, and certain HUD officials, the Model Cities Administrator met with the full Commission on February 22, 1972, and presented drafts of a revised Commissioner's Order and a Memorandum of Understanding. On February 29, 1972, the District of Columbia defendants issued Commissioner's Order 72-44, *fn3" which modified the role of the Commission, consolidated the Commission and CDA staffs, and eliminated the Impasse Board provided for in Order 68-761. On March 21, 1972, defendant Francis X. Healy, HUD Assistant Regional Administrator for Community Development, responded to a letter of former Commissioner Herbert C. Coles and stated that in HUD's opinion the changes contained in Order 72-44 did not violate the Model Cities Act or HUD guidelines relating to citizen participation in the Model Cities Program.

 On May 12, 1972, the instant suit was filed and the District of Columbia defendants indicated they were willing to meet with plaintiffs to discuss the issues which prompted this litigation. Plaintiffs met with both the District of Columbia and Federal defendants on July 19, 1972, and with the District defendants on August 9, 1972. These discussions resulted in the drafting of another Commissioner's Order to replace Order 72-44. Subsequently, on September 15, 1972, the District of Columbia defendants transmitted the draft Order to the plaintiffs and to all the Commissioners. On October 16, 1972, the draft Order was published as a proposed Order in the District of Columbia Register. The Model Cities Administrator met with the Commission on November 14, 1972, and was presented with a report of the Special Executive Order Committee appointed by the Model Cities Commission, which recommended that the latest Order not be approved by the Commission. The Commission voted to accept the recommendation of the Executive Order Committee. On November 24, 1972, Mayor-Commissioner Washington issued Commissioner's Order 72-273, which is essentially an amended version of Order 72-44 that provides for an "Impasse Procedure" whereby the Commission, following disapproval of its decision, may appeal to the Mayor who will review and decide the matter within thirty days. Despite the discussions with the defendants and the issuance of Order 72-273, plaintiffs still contend that the defendants have failed to comply with the administrative regulations and the provisions of the Model Cities Act relating to "widespread citizen participation" and "local initiative." For the reasons stated herein, the Court concludes that plaintiffs' contentions are without merit and that the District of Columbia and Federal defendants are entitled to summary judgment.

 Section 3303 of the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966, 42 U.S.C. § 3301 et seq., establishes eligibility requirements for federal grants and technical assistance and authorizes the Secretary of HUD to also require that the City Demonstration Programs satisfy any additional criteria as he may deem necessary to accomplish the purposes of the Act. Section 3303 provides in part:

 
(a) A comprehensive city demonstration program is eligible for assistance under sections 3305 and 3307 of this title only if --
 
* * *
 
(2) the program is of sufficient magnitude to make a substantial impact on the physical and social problems and to remove or arrest blight and decay in entire sections or neighborhoods; to contribute to the sound development of the entire city; to make marked progress in reducing social and educational disadvantages, ill health, underemployment, and enforced idleness; and to provide educational, health, and social services necessary to serve the poor and disadvantaged in the area, widespread citizen participation in the program, ...

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