State VS. municipal regulations of public utilities

John Morton Eshleman
1913 National Municipal Review  
HE present constitutional provision2 provides for the regulation of utilities outside of municipalities by the railroad commission T and the regulation of utilities within municipalities by the municipal authorities to the extent of the powers vested in such municipal authorities at the time of the going into effect of legislation, which the constitution1 amendment contemplated to be passed, conferring powers upon the railroad commission for which the constitutional mandate provided. Thereafter
more » ... the option remains with the municipality to exercise such authority over the utilities within its borders or, by an election held forathat purpose, to transfer such powers to the railroad commission, and having once transferred its powers, the right is reserved to retake the powers at a subsequent election, should the municipality desire. This scheme of regulation makes it necessary for the public authorities, both state and municipal, to determine just what power is reposed in each several municipality at the time of the taking effect of the public utilities act of this state, which was the legislation passed pursuant to the constitutional amendment heretofore referred to. In order that there might be no unnecessary conflict between state and municipal authorities, the commission requested various city attorneys of the state to present their views as to what authority was vested in each municipality on the twenty-third day of March, 1912, the effective date of the public utilities act, and directed its attorney to investigate the various city charters with a view to rendering an opinion on this question for the future guidance of the commission. It is our view that March 23, 1912, is the date which must be looked to in determining what powers were vested in the municipal authorities of the several cities. The powers which municipal authorities have are the powers conferred upon them by the state (a municipality being a creature of the state for local governmental purposes). All such municipalities have the ordinary police power which is the "power to conserve the health, comfort, happiness and convenience of its inhabitants."3 As to 'Mr. Eshleman is president of the board of railroad commissioners for the state of California, and as such has had practical experience with the questions he discusses in his paper, which was read at the Los Angeles meeting of the National Municipal League. 2Art. xxiii, sec. 12, constitution of California. J Tiedeman, Municipal Corporations, 6ec. 135. 11
doi:10.1002/ncr.4110020103 fatcat:2zkyq3pyvje55apnmuoukljkpy