Laurel and Mildred Ely (plaintiffs) owned a commercial tire and automotive service center in Ames, Iowa. The property adjacent to the service center was designated a “historical landmark” by the City Council of Ames (the Council) (defendant). The 1920’s historical home was well known for advancing the integration effort of African-Americans into the Ames community. The Elys alleged that the home had fallen into disrepair and decreased the commercial value of nearby properties, including the Elys’ business. The Elys filed a petition challenging the Council’s designation and asserted claims of violations of due process and equal protection and illegal spot zoning. At a bench trial, the district court upheld the designation. The Iowa Court of Appeals granted certiorari to review.