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State v. Reno City Council

December 31, 1913

STATE OF NEVADA, EX REL. C. O. DAVIES, RELATOR, V. FRED L. WHITE, SAM FRANK, E. TWADDLE, ROBERT NELSON, PETER STEFFES, AND ROY J. FRISCH, AS THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RENO, COUNTY OF WASHOE, STATE OF NEVADA, RESPONDENTS.


Dixon & Miller, for Petitioner.

E. F Lunsford, City Attorney, for Respondents.

By the Court, Norcross, J.:

This is an original proceeding, upon notice, for a peremptory writ of mandamus commanding respondents, as the City Council of the City of Reno, to submit a certain proposed ordinance designated Ordinance No. 184, to a vote of the electors of the said city of Reno, at a special election to be called for that purpose, in accordance with the initiative and referendum provisions of the act incorporating the city of Reno.

The character and purpose of the proposed ordinance sought to be submitted to the electorate of the city of Reno is sufficiently indicated by its title, which reads: “An ordinance directing the issue of a license or licenses to C. O. Davies for the keeping or conducting of a restaurant on the island in the Truckee River known as ‘Belle Isle,' with the privilege, in connection therewith, of selling, furnishing, serving or otherwise disposing of wine, malt and spirituous liquors in sealed packages.”

It is conceded that the petition for the submission of the ordinance is in due form and contains the requisite number of signatures of qualified electors to meet the requirements of the initiative and referendum provisions of the city charter, but it is the contention of respondents that, nevertheless, the writ ought not to issue,

[36 Nev. 334, Page 336]

for the reason that the subject-matter of the proposed ordinance is not such a subject-matter as could be enacted into a valid ordinance, and for the further reason that the provisions of the city charter providing for the initiative and referendum of city ordinances are unconstitutional, for the reason that they were enacted prior to the adoption of the amendment to the state constitution relative to the initiative and the referendum.

As it is unnecessary to consider the constitutional question raised, the same will not be determined.

1. The proposition that a writ of mandate will not issue to compel respondents to submit to the electors of the city a proposed ordinance that would be void even if approved by a majority of the electors, is too clear for discussion or the citation of authorities.

It remains only to consider whether the proposed ordinance would be valid if enacted.

2, 3. The proposed ordinance is special in character as it is designed to grant to a single individual a privilege in which the public at large has no interest or benefit.

By the provisions of section 10 of article 12 of the city charter, the city council is invested with power “to fix, impose and collect a license tax on, regulate, prescribe the location of, or suppress, * * * any and all places where intoxicating drinks are sold or given away.” (Stats. 1905, p. 121.)

It is admitted in this proceeding that general ordinances are in force in the city of Reno under the provisions of which the relator could have applied for a license such as is sought to be obtained through the enactment of the special ordinance under consideration, and that such application could be granted or refused by the city council.

It is a serious question whether the proposed ordinance is not directly violative of the city charter which invests a certain discretion in the city council in the matter of granting or refusing liquor licenses. If violative of the ...


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