Monday, January 21, 2013

High Speed Rail to Move Forward with Eminent Domain. Resolution Recently Passed for More Efficient Acquisition Process.

On January 14, 2013, the California State Board of Public Works (“SBPW”) approved the selection of the land necessary for the first section of the California High Speed Rail project. The SBPW gave the Authority the green light to start negotiating for full or part takes with the owners of more than 300 parcels.

At its meeting on November 6th, the California State Board of Public Works voted to approve a resolution that will expedite the process of acquiring properties necessary to move forward with the construction of the High Speed Rail (“HSR”). The resolution was drafted by the Board in preparation for eminent domain proceedings that will affect over 1,000 properties as the first leg of the HSR moves forward, and then thousands more as construction continues through the Central Valley. In light of the difficulty this would present to the Board if it proceeded as it usually does approving each acquisition individually, the resolution delegates the ability to execute right of way contracts to the Board’s authorized agents.

The form contract that the Board approved will make it easier for the High Speed Rail Authority to proceed with condemnation of property. As stated in Board’s November 6th meeting minutes, a certain set of circumstances will trigger the agent’s authority to enter into the acquisition agreement with affected property owners:

“a) That the contract proposed to be signed is the form of contract approved by the Board,

b) That the property in question is one where just compensation has been set,

c) The property has previously been included within the Board’s site selection approval, and

d) The contract has been executed by the Authority, the right of way agent, and approved by the Department of General Services consistent with Government Code section 11005.”

The full text of the SBPW’s November 6th Minutes can be viewed here:

The next step for the Board is to consider bids from right of way agents to handle eminent domain negotiations with property owners on its behalf.