Appeal from the orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at Nos. 2338 January Term, 1968, 280 and 282 October Term, 1968, and 758, 3729 and 3730 January Term, 1969. Appeal transferred March 5, 1971 to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Allen N. Brunwasser, for appellants.
Frederick A. Boehm, First Assistant City Solicitor, with him Ralph Lynch, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman, and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer and Rogers. Opinion by President Judge Bowman. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Manderino.
Appellants, Srul and Eva Kronzek,*fn1 are owners of numerous deteriorating and dilapidated rental buildings in the City of Pittsburgh which are the subject of this litigation. Between October 24, 1967 and November 27, 1968, the Director of the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety, on the basis of visual inspections of the premises by departmental inspectors, issued six*fn2 notices of condemnation as to structures owned by the Kronzeks. The inspectors, on the basis of their observations, had determined the subject buildings to be dangerous
and a safety hazard to the public health and welfare. The notices were issued pursuant to City Ordinance No. 76, approved March 3, 1966, which provides in relevant part:
"Sec. 210-A. All unsafe buildings as herein defined are declared to be public nuisances and shall be repaired, vacated or demolished, pursuant to the notice and order of the Superintendent under Sec. 210 or Sec. 211 of this Ordinance, in accordance with the following standards, or as otherwise provided in this Ordinance:
"(d) If the unsafe building, whether or not vacant, has not been repaired in accordance with the Notice and Order of the Superintendent, and if it is in such condition as to make it dangerous to the health, safety, morals or general welfare of its occupants or of the public, and the vacation of the building would not eliminate such condition, it shall be ordered to be demolished."
The vacancy of all the buildings is undisputed as is the fact that they are uninhabitable in their present decayed condition. However, the conclusion that they are in such disrepair as to require demolition under a constitutional exercise of the municipal police power is in serious dispute.
The property owners dispute only the reasonableness of the exercise of the police power under the above ordinance and do not argue that they were denied the basic requisites of notice and hearing constituting due process of law. Each notice of condemnation contained the following clause after cataloguing the nature of the conditions rendering the structure unsafe and dangerous to the public.*fn3 "Any owner, agent, or occupant
interested, who may feel himself aggrieved by an order of the said department, which requires a substantial alteration or repair, or the removal of any substantial portion or portions, of any building, may, within thirty days after the service of the order as hereinafter provided, present his petition to the court of common pleas of the county wherein the city is situated, having first notified the said department of his intention so to do; and the court shall then fix a time for a hearing, within five days thereafter, and may suspend such order pending hearing; and thereafter, at the time fixed for the hearing, a judge of said court shall hear ...