Monterey California Legal Blog

How homeowners can prepare for eminent domain

It’s been your home for decades. You raised your family there, played baseball with the kids in the backyard, and hosted plenty of neighborhood barbecues. But now the local school district has thrown a monkey wrench into your plans to stay in this house until the day you die.

Eminent domain. Along with a few other residences in the neighborhood, your two-story home has been condemned to make way for a new high school with plenty of parking lots. Your house just happens to be where the new parking lot will be.

What Are Your Rights Under Eminent Domain?

How much will private property be threatened in the process of electrifying the Caltrain line and modernizing and expanding the entire Bay Area’s public transportation infrastructure? The latest acquisition of funds for transit projects in the area means that there will be money to pay for land, but will project managers justly compensate landowners for the property’s true value? Here are you and your government’s rights under the California eminent domain laws.

Be Aware Of The Law

What is just compensation?

There are few terms that landowners fear more than eminent domain. Most people understand the basic idea: that the government has the right to take your land for public use.

While the government can do this, as defined in the "taking clause" of the Fifth Amendment, it also ensures that landowners get "just compensation" back for your property. So what does that mean?

When Can the Government Take Your House?

Both federal and state governments have the power to take private property for public use when necessary or beneficial.

Private property includes your house, land, and business. When the government decides to take private property it must only give you, the property owner, "just compensation." (This is stated in the Fifth Amendment and is known as the takings clause.)


Robert J. Ernst III, Attorney at Law
149 Bonifacio Place
Monterey, CA 93940

Phone: 831-753-6125
Fax: 831-373-2566
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