Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eminent Domain Round-Up: Road Improvements in San Diego

A Final EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is expected to be released this summer for Caltrans’ I-5 North Coast HOV/Express Lanes Project in Northern San Diego County. The purpose of this project is to improve traffic conditions on the 5 freeway by adding two HOV lanes both in the north and south direction, between La Jolla Village Drive and Harbor Drive in Oceanside. According to Caltrans District 11, daily traffic along this stretch of the I-5 could reach 300,000 by the year 2030.

A road widening project in the city of Ramona will affect property owners in the area. Settlements for land acquisition consisting of partial takings and temporary construction easements have been reached, except for the owners of two parcels. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the widening of San Vicente Road is intended to improve safety conditions on a twisting 2-mile portion of the street where over 20 car accidents have taken place in the past five years.

The City of Santee held a Resolution of Necessity hearing on July 10, 2013 to approve eminent domain for approximately 50 parcels of land earmarked for the Prospect Avenue Widening project. Improving traffic conditions, relocating utilities and adding bike lanes along a 1-mile portion of Prospect Avenue are among the project goals.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Regional Connector Project Requires Condemnation of Commercial Property in Little Tokyo

By Jeffrey Horowitz

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“Metro”) is expected to file a complaint in eminent domain against the owner of a parcel of land in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Little Tokyo. The property is the site of one of three future stations for Metro’s Regional Connector. The Downtown LA News reports that Metro has made an offer to the owner for the property, which consists of three commercial buildings and a parking lot. The owner’s position according to the news report is that Metro’s appraisal does not take into consideration the “highest and best use of the property”.

Condemnation of Commercial Property by a Public Agency

Eminent Domain or Condemnation is the process by which a government agency acquires private property for public use. The term “eminent domain” is not limited to litigation; it includes all proceedings from the initial offer or notice from the condemnor up until the filing of a lawsuit, and through trial or settlement negotiations. If the owner of a commercial property accepts the first offer made to him or her, or otherwise settles with the condemning agency prior to litigation, this is still part of the eminent domain process. Highest and best use is a major factor that sets apart a traditional real estate transaction arising from eminent domain proceedings. A determination of value based on highest and best use must take into consideration practical issues concerning the property such as zoning and location.  A public agency will have the condemned parcel appraised, but property owners should hire their own licensed real estate appraiser to determine the value of the condemned land.