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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1957 No. 91 - Jul 2 1957
Attorney General John J. O'Connell


A local housing authority may dispose of unimproved land which is in excess of current needs where such land was acquired to qualify the authority as transferee of temporary war housing from the federal government under the relinquishment provisions of the Lanham Act, as amended.  Proceeds of such sale may be used to improve and maintain the transferred dwellings.

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                                                                     July 2, 1957

Honorable Gordon Sandison
State Representative
517 South Lincoln
Port Angeles, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 91

Dear Representative Sandison:

            By your letter of April 23, 1957, previously acknowledged, you have requested our opinion on the following questions:

            1.         May a housing authority dispose of unimproved land in excess of its current needs, where such land was acquired to qualify the authority as a transferee of temporary war housing dwellings from the federal government?

            2.         May the proceeds from such disposition be used to improve and maintain the transferred dwellings?

            Our answer to each question is in the affirmative.


            You have advised us that the above questions are based upon the following factual situation:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The housing authority of Clallam County has acquired from the federal government, pursuant to the provisions of the Lanham Act, as amended (42 U.S.C.A § 1581), 40 temporary war housing dwelling units at Port Angeles, and a like number of units at Forks.  In order that the housing authority might qualify for the relinquishment and transfer of these dwelling units, it became necessary for it to acquire the underlying land upon which these projects were developed, and this was done.  42 U.S.C.A. § 1581 (b) (3).

            At the present time, portions of the land so acquired are not being used for such dwellings and are in excess of current needs.  The housing authority is desirous of disposing of such excess land and proposes to sell it and use the proceeds of the sale for the purpose of improving and maintaining existing dwellings acquired from the Federal government under the relinquishment program.

            A housing authority is a "public body corporate and politic" existing in each city and county in the state by virtue of chapter 23, Laws of 1939 (chapter 74.24 RCW).  However, it cannot transact any business or exercise its powers until such time as the governing body of the city or county, as the case may be, shall declare by resolution that there is need for a housing authority to function in such city or county.  RCW 74.24.030.

            We are advised that the housing authority of Clallam County has been so authorized to function.

            RCW 74.24.070 sets forth the general powers and duties of housing authorities.  This statute provides in pertinent part:

            "An authority shall constitute a public body corporate and politic, exercising public and essential governmental functions, and having all the powers necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following powers in addition to others herein granted:

            ". . .

            "(2) Within its area of operation: To prepare, carry out, acquire, lease, and operate housing projects; to provide for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, alteration, or repair of any housing project or any part thereof.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            ". . .

            "(4) . . . to sell, lease, exchange, transfer, assign, pledge, or dispose of any real or personal property or any interest therein; . . .

            ". . .

            "(8) To exercise all or any part or combination of powers herein granted;

            "No provisions of law with respect to the acquisition, operation, or disposition of property by other public bodies shall be applicable to an authority unless the legislature shall specifically so state;

           . . ."

            InPacific First Federal Savings and Loan Association v. Pierce County, 27 Wn. (2d) 347, 178 P. (2d) 351, our supreme court said:

            "Municipal authorities cannot exercise powers except those expressly granted, or those necessarily implied from granted powers.  And, if there is a doubt as to whether the power is granted, it must be denied . . ."

            See also,Griggs v. Port of Tacoma, 150 Wash. 402, 273 Pac. 521;State ex rel. Hill v. Port of Seattle, 104 Wash. 534, 177 Pac. 671, 180 Pac. 137.

            It is our opinion that RCW 74.24.070, above quoted, expressly grants to the housing authority of Clallam County both the power to sell the excess land (Subd. (4), above) and the authority to apply the proceeds to the improvement and maintenance of the remaining project (Subd. (2), above).

            It is also our opinion, that such disposition of land in no way conflicts with the representation made to the federal government, in compliance with 42 U.S.C.A. § 1581 (d), prior to the relinquishment and transfer of temporary war housing to such local housing authority.  42 U.S.C.A. § 1581 (d) reads in pertinent part:

            "(d) No relinquishment or transfer with respect to temporary housing shall be made under this section unless the transferee represents in its request  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] therefor that it proposes, to the extent permitted by law:

            ". . .

            "(2) Not to dispose of any right, title, or interest in the property (by sale, transfer, grant, exchange, mortgage, lease, release, termination of the leasehold, or any relinquishment of interest) . . . Provided, That this representation will not apply to any disposal through demolition for salvage, lease to tenants for residential occupancy, or lease of nondwelling facilities for the continuance of a use existing on the date of transfer, or where such disposal is the result of a bona fide foreclosure or other proceeding to enforce rights given as security for a loan to pay for land under this section: And provided further, That nothing contained in this paragraph shall be construed as applicable to the disposition of any land or interest therein after the removal of the structures therefrom . . . ." (Emphasis ours.)

            The proposed sale falls within the exception of the last proviso above noted.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General