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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1993,
BY FRANK G. FINLAYSON In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
The street laws peculiar to the state of California are those statutory enactments which provide for improvements upon existing streets-streets opened or dedicated to public use; also, those enactments which provide for the opening, widening, extending or closing up of streets, in whole or in part. To many these street laws are terra incognita. They, are sui generis, covering a special territory by themselves quite outside of the common and ordinary domain of the general and usual practice. Heretofore these laws have constituted a branch of the practice so specialized that it has been explored by but few members of the profession; nevertheless, it is one of the most important branches in the whole wide range of jurisprudence. Municipal corporations are little more than public improvement corporations on a large scale; and, as the present tendency seems to be in the direction of a still further centralization of power in the municipalities of the country, with the investiture of still greater powers over public improvement in the municipal authorities, confiding to their care the conduct of many enterprises which have heretofore usually been in the hands of private individuals, it follows that any branch of the law which deals with the exercise of these powers is of great and growing importance, both to the profession and the laity. Cities and towns are rapidly springing up in this empire commonwealth, and streets are as rapidly being opened up and improved. Hence the necessity for some book which shall facilitate the researches of those whose business it is to study these street laws and assist in their administration. With this end in view the author has prepared this book for publication, and will feel himself amply repaid for his labors if he has succeeded in bringing together between the covers of one book such material upon the subject of the street laws of this state as will serve to simplify the subject and render a comprehensive knowledge thereof easy of attainment.
One reason why the realm covered by this special department has hitherto remained unfamiliar to many, is that the statutes themselves upon the subject of street work, and the many amendatory acts, have been scattered through numer
ous volumes of our statute books. Prior to the adoption of the new constitution, these statutory provisions consisted of a heterogeneous mass scattered through the charters of the various municipalities of the state, and found in special and local laws. Therefore any general systemization of the subject of street laws under the old constitution was practically impossible, since each city had a special and separate system of its own. Under the new constitution, however, general laws upon the subject have been passed, operative throughout the length and breadth of the state, and superseding all special laws in conflict therewith. It is therefore possible now to reduce these general laws to some system, and present them as they exist at the present time, i. e., as amended up to date. The mere presentation, therefore, of the naked statutes in force to-day, will serve to remove much doubt that would otherwise harass the mind of the busy practitioner, who, after exploring the statute books for hours or even days, might still doubt whether he had found all the statutory enactments upon the subject, or whether some amendment had escaped his search or not. The author has therefore set forth in full all the general street laws of the state now in force in every municipality, as the same have been amended up to date, and has also referred to each and every amendment which has been made to each section of the acts from the time of the original enactment. Thus, any person seeking to know what the statute provisions are at present, will find them set forth in full. Should he desire to know what the statute provisions have been at any time intermediate, between the time of the original enactment and the present date, he has but to turn to the book and page of the statutes containing the original enactment, or any subsequent and intermediate amendatory act.
Another, and perhaps still less surmountable obstacle lying in the path leading to a comprehensive knowledge of these street laws is the fact that, even when the practitioner has unearthed from the statute books all the enactments in force upon the subject of street work or street improvement, and has carefully studied their provisions, he must still, in the absence of an authoritative construction by the Supreme Court, remain in doubt as to the correct interpretation of many of the provisions; or he may even entertain a fixed, but mistaken, opinion as to the true meaning or scope of a provision, without being aware of his mistake. A careful study of the decisions which have been rendered by our Supreme Court in cases calling for a construction of these, and of similar prior street work laws, will undoubtedly do