Tuesday, December 31, 2013
A recent Colorado Court of Appeals case caught my eye for its discussion of a "common law" of parks, which was new to me.
In essence, Denver citizens sued to stop the city from turning over a piece of city land to the school district by arguing that the city had treated the land like a park since the Fifties and, in so doing, had made the land a de facto park through such actions under Colorado common law. The Colorado Court of Appeals described the Colorado law as follows:
“In Colorado a dedication of land to public use may be made either according to the common law or pursuant to statute.” City & Cnty. Of Denver v. Publix Cab Co., 135 Colo. 132, 139, 308 P.2d 1016, 1019–20 (1957). Common law dedication occurs when the city's “unambiguous actions” demonstrate its “unequivocal intent” to set the land aside for a particular public use. State Dep't of Highways v. Town of Silverthorne, 707 P.2d 1017, 1020 (Colo.App.1985); accord City of Northglenn v. City of Thornton, 193 Colo. 536, 539, 569 P.2d 319, 321 (1977); City of Denver v. Jacobson, 17 Colo. 497, 500, 30 P. 246, 247 (1892); 11A Eugene McQuillin, Municipal Corporations § 33:32, at n. 6 (3d ed. rev.vol.2009) (intent need not actually exist, but rather must appear to exist).