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

Eminent domain can only take privately owned property for public uses. The government agency that wants the land for a public project has the property in question surveyed and makes an offer to the owner to purchase the property.

The government entity that wishes to take the land by eminent domain must establish the formal necessity for it and record it in a formal resolution. The resolution must establish that:

  • The planned public project is necessary.
  • The property in question is indispensable for the project.
  • Efforts have been made to mitigate the private property usage to provide the least impact on the owner while preserving the benefit for the public good.
  • A purchase offer has been extended to the owner of the property in question.

This resolution has to go through a public hearing process and be adopted by a government agency before any action happens from a court of law.

Right of Refusal

You have the right to refuse what the government offers you for your real estate, but if you decline the offer, a court date will be set where a judge and jury decides what the proper compensation value is for your property.

The final footprint of the proposed rail and transit lines remains to be seen, but it is almost certain that the city and state governments involved will invoke eminent domain on a number of properties impacted by transit construction.

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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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