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CALIFORNIA EMINENT DOMAIN LAW BLOG

California Eminent Domain Project News: CHSRA Gives Thumbs Up on Fresno-Bakersfield Track

On May 7, California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) board members voted on the next section of the rail project. The two-part vote resulted in the approval of the 114-mile route from downtown Fresno to the northern outskirts of Bakersfield. The first part of the vote was dedicated to the 20,000 page Environmental Impact Report which contained the analysis of how construction and operation of the rail will effect nearby homes, businesses, farms, wildlife and their habitats, and what CHSRA would do to minimize or compensate for those effects. The second part of the vote was with regards to the actual route from Fresno to Bakersfield. Both the EIR and the route were approved by the CHSRA’s board. Opponents to the high speed rail objected to the approval. Opponents were unsatisfied with CHSRA’s work and research in regards to the effects the high-speed rail would have on the environment. Concerns of the unchanged line running through the Central Valley were one of the imminent issues for the opponents. They believe CHSRA had done little to address their concerns regarding the high-speed rail’s impact on the environment. Lawsuits against CHSRA are still underway as a recent appeal in three lawsuits was denied. CHSRA is ready for more lawsuits seeing that the Bakersfield-Fresno track will bring more opposition. Rail board’s vice chairman, Tom Richards, doesn’t think the new lawsuits will be any different from the ones CHSRA faced for the Madera to Fresno section of the rail; he says they are ready.
In response to concerns over the pollution the construction of the high-speed rail will cause, CHRSA stated that they will be committing over $35 million to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Jeff Morales, CHSRA’s CEO, also stated that the agreement with San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will also pay for replacements of old farm equipment, including pumps and tractors, to minimize pollution. In addition, CHSRA claims that all contractors during the construction of the high-speed rail will be required to use the cleanest-burning construction fleet available.

Although the votes for the Fresno-Bakersfield track were a significant step towards construction of the project, CHSRA still needs to get the approval of two federal agencies: the Federal Railroad Administration and The Surface Transportation Board. They also require permits from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in order to work along waterways, wetlands and various other habitats.

For frequent updates on the California High Speed Rail Authority project, and other California projects, visit our blog and look for “California Eminent Domain Project News” for the latest news and information on projects near you.

To learn more about California Eminent Domain Law Group, APC or if you have any questions regarding an eminent domain matter, please feel free to visit our website at www.caledlaw.com, where you may request an initial consultation or a copy of our California Eminent Domain Handbook, free of charge. The Handbook may help answer any general questions you have regarding eminent domain. However, the handbook is intended only as an aid for understanding general eminent domain issues. It does not constitute legal advice and may not be relied upon for that purpose. For a FREE consultation please call 1-866-EM-DOMAIN.

California Eminent Domain Project News: Senate Committee Rejects Attempts at Another Vote for the California High Speed Rail

The ongoing tug-of-war between rail backers and opponents to the project has led to delays in California’s plan to build a high speed rail. Since its voter-back initiative, Proposition 1A, was passed back in 2008, the California High Speed Rail project has encountered numerous bumps in the road. The latest was the appeal denied by the Third District Court of Appeals regarding pending lawsuits between CHSRA and Kings County farmers. Now, the courts continue to delay the project because CHSRA is implementing a plan much different than the one voters approved back in 2008. Issues have a risen regarding CHSRA’s financial plan, lengthened travel times and higher operating subsidies. Courts have already held that the current financial plan is not in accordance with the terms of Prop 1A.

Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, argues that a majority of California voters are now opposed to the high speed rail. Senator Vidak attempted to get 4 bills passed in hopes of derailing the project. This first bill, SB 901, was an attempt to get a referendum on the November 2014 ballot to prohibit sales of additional bonds to fund the project. SB 902 would have required CHSRA to disclose its funding sources before the use of eminent domain to acquire property and required a higher compensation for any properties taken through eminent domain. In Fresno, the CHSRA has already begun the eminent domain process for property needed for new train stations; however, it is unclear whether CHSRA has enough funds to complete its initial operating segment. SB 903 would have required CHSRA to reimburse counties for lost tax revenue because of the acquisition of private properties. Finally, SB 904 would have required officials and contractors of the project to identify themselves to property owners prior to pre-condemnation entry for eminent domain purposes.

All 4 bills were rejected by the Senate Transportation and Housing committee. Legislators have been reluctant to allow California voters to re-vote on the high speed rail project. The Senate committee stated “while voters today may not approve…Californians will be thankful the state continued to pursue it.” Unfortunately, these Legislators seem to have forgotten that they are in office to represent the will of the people they serve- not to dictate to the people what their will should be.

At least the opponents to the project can look to the courts which have been diligently attempting to uphold the legal provisions specified in the ballot measure. It seems clear that Prop 1A’s promises are not being met and rail backers seem to think it is not a big deal in the context of the high speed rail’s benefits.

California Eminent Domain Project News: Update, CHSRA’s Petition Denied by Appeals Court: Next Stop, Trial

Late Tuesday, three justices with the Third District Court of Appeals denied the California High Speed Rail Authority’s (CHSRA) petition asking the court to overturn a decision by the Sacramento County Superior Court. The Superior court had ordered a trial on one part of an ongoing lawsuit between Kings County farmer John Tos, Hanford homeowner Aaron Fukuda and the Kings County Board of Supervisors and CHSRA.

One part of the lawsuit is still pending appeal; however, the Court of Appeals decision on the second part of the lawsuit has paved the way for a trial to take place between the Kings County opponents and CHSRA as to whether the High Speed Rail project complies with state law. The lawsuit was filed against CHSRA by the Kings County opponents alleging that the CHSRA is violating Proposition 1A for numerous reasons. Prop 1A was a $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond approved by California votes back in 2008. The Kings County opponents allege that CHRSA’s idea to share electrified tracks along the San Francisco Peninsula goes against Prop 1A by not complying with the promise that the high-speed rail would have a line of fully dedicated tracks. Also, sharing tracks would mean that the CHSRA’s assurance of a 2 hour and 40 minute trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles would be unachievable. Furthermore, a public subsidy would be needed for the blended system.

CHSRA made promises when rounding up California voters to okay the high-speed rail project and now the Kings County opponents assert that the shortcomings to their promises add up to illegal spending of public funds.

CHSRA’s business plan in late 2011 calculated that a fully dedicated track for the high-speed rail would cost $98 billion for only the first phase. In efforts to cut costs, CHSRA decided that a blended track system would save them $30 billion.

Whatever CHSRA’s reasons may be, the Court of Appeals of the State of California has decided that the high-speed rail’s next stop is trial. Whether CHRSA will seek review from California Supreme Court is unclear at this time. However, the Court of Appeals will be deciding on two other rulings made by Sacramento County Superior Court. The first being part of the Kings County opponents’ lawsuit on the 2011 financial plan and the second on the Superior Court’s refusal to validate the sale of the Prop 1A bonds for funding to pay for the first phase of construction.

For regular updates on California High Speed Rail Authority look for “California Eminent Domain Project News:Updates” on our blog at http://blog.eminentdomainlaw.net/

California Eminent Domain Project News: LA Metro Purple Line Extension Project

The extension of the Metro Purple Line has been discussed, studied and planned for years and now the city of Los Angeles has begun construction on the first of three sections of the subway. Metro Purple Line will be extended 9 miles to the west starting at the Wilshire/Western terminus. The project will also be adding seven new stations dispersed along the west side of Los Angeles at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, Wilshire/La Cienega, Wilshire/Rodeo, Century City, Westwood/UCLA and Westwood/VA Hospital.

Metro has begun the process to acquire needed property for the Westside Subway Extension. Hundreds of properties will be affected by this project; if you are an affected owner, an eminent domain case may reach you. It is important that you contact a reputable firm with extensive experience in eminent domain, such as California Eminent Domain Law Group, APC to protect you rights.

Metro has made it clear that it will exercise its power of eminent domain for their $6.3 billion project should negotiations fail. If you are affected by this project you have the right to seek just compensation for your business or property. Do not be left without proper representation from experienced eminent domain attorneys. California Eminent Domain Law Group, APC has handled numerous eminent domain cases, including against Metro, and has taken a substantial number of these cases to verdict and settlement with extraordinary outcomes for clients.

To learn more about California Eminent Domain Law Group, APC or if you have any questions regarding an eminent domain matter, please feel free to visit our website at www.caledlaw.com, where you may request an initial consultation or a copy of our California Eminent Domain Handbook, free of charge. The Handbook may help answer any general questions you have regarding eminent domain. However, the handbook is intended only as an aid for understanding general eminent domain issues. It does not constitute legal advice and may not be relied upon for that purpose.

FOR A FREE CONSULTATION PLEASE CALL 1-866-EM-DOMAIN

California Eminent Domain Project News: California Speeds Up on the High-Speed Rail Project

Even as the controversial High-Speed Rail project continues to be debated on in the Capitol and challenged in the courts, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”) is already taking action towards the project. CHSRA has begun to acquire private property to build the foundation for the speed-rail’s tracks. Thousands of properties will be affected by this project; if you are an affected owner, an eminent domain case may reach your door step in no time. It is important that you contact a reputable firm with extensive experience in eminent domain, such as California Eminent Domain Law Group, APC to protect you rights.

The CHSRA is essentially saying “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” Project supporters claim that the high-speed rail will create new jobs, increase tax revenue, preserve agricultural lands and better the environment. However, the project will also unequivocally impact thousands of property and business owners. Construction is estimated to take up to 2 decades.

Just recently the CHSRA appointed a new executive staff. James Andrews, Assistant Chief Counsel for CHSRA, will be in charge of the legal strategies enabling CHSRA to take the land needed for the project. This means eminent domain will be used to take private properties.

Whether you agree or disagree with the California High-Speed Rail project, you may be forced to address an eminent domain lawsuit if your property or business is in the route of the high-speed rail. Attorneys at California Eminent Domain Law Group, APC have over 25 years of exclusive experience in eminent domain law and inverse condemnation law, and currently represent property and business owners impacted by the High Speed Rail project. They are dedicated to obtaining maximum compensation for their clients. As a property or business owner you have rights to “just compensation.” Do not go unrepresented when faced with an eminent domain matter. Let experienced attorneys get you the compensation you deserve.

To learn more about California Eminent Domain Law Group, APC or if you have any questions regarding an eminent domain matter, please feel free to visit our website at www.caledlaw.com, where you may request an initial consultation or a copy of our California Eminent Domain Handbook, free of charge. The Handbook may help answer any general questions you have regarding eminent domain. However, the handbook is intended only as an aid for understanding general eminent domain issues. It does not constitute legal advice and may not be relied upon for that purpose.

FOR A FREE CONSULTATION PLEASE CALL 1-866-EM-DOMAIN

The End of Redevelopment Agencies Halts Projects in the Planning for Years, 1/9/12

By A.J. Hazarabedian

Governor Brown’s plan to abolish redevelopment agencies followed by the recent California Supreme Court decision to do just that is having a profound effect on planned redevelopment projects.

An article in the Sacramento Business Journal last week entitled, “Rancho Cordova won’t buy property through eminent domain,” explains how the city is now abandoning a project they have been planning for years.  The article states that not only will a current eminent domain lawsuit be dropped, but Rancho Cordova’s redevelopment agency will also be “forced to sell two other parcels that it had previously acquired for redevelopment,” related to the same project.

Cities and other government agencies will inevitably attempt some workarounds in order to enhance and improve their areas.  For Rancho Cordova, “the city’s leaders said they will continue to improve Folsom Boulevard through grants and other funding.”

Metro’s Gold Line Construction Authority is another agency scrambling to keep a project moving forward in the midst of last week’s decision.  The Pasadena Star News reported in their article, “Monrovia, Gold Line officials continue attempts to execute land deal for maintenance yard,” that Gold Line and City of Monrovia officials are trying to understand what to do about their previously negotiated deal.  For a planned maintenance yard to be built in Monrovia, the Metro Gold Line Construction Authority had negotiated a deal to purchase 14 acres of Monrovia Redevelopment Agency-owned land for $41.6 million.  In anticipation of last week’s ruling, the Authority recently voted to condemn the land in order to keep the project on schedule.  Under the eminent domain proceedings, the land could be purchased for $17.3 million.  The City of Monrovia stands to lose millions of dollars if the eminent domain proceeding moves forward rather than the previously negotiated deal.

Per the Pasadena Star News article, Monrovia officials are “working with lobbyists to draft potential legislation that would carve out the project from the new redevelopment rules.”

Stay tuned…

Caltrans’ 5 Widening Project Could Mean Eminent Domain, 12/2/11

By A.J. Hazarabedian

Caltrans is moving forward with a widening project on the 5 freeway from the 605 to the Orange County line – a project which has been in the works for many years.  An article in the Downey Patriot, “Caltrans plans to widen 5 freeway” discusses some of the impacts the project will have on property and business owners in the surrounding areas.

As discussed in the article, 440 parcels will be impacted by the widening in the cities of Downey, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, La Mirada and Cerritos.  Caltrans project manager Emad Gorgy explains that “the goal of the project is to mitigate the bottleneck along the I-5 corridor and push the carpool lane towards Downtown Los Angeles.”  They will “divide the corridor into six sections and the existing lanes will be expanded to 10 lanes across.”

We have been informed that Caltrans has already begun the process of acquiring property for this project.  It is likely they will use the power of eminent domain as they did for the Carmenita Interchange project.

To better understand the eminent domain process, visit our website to read our “California Eminent Domain Handbook.” In the handbook, we provide a breakdown of the steps involved when the government wants to acquire property by eminent domain, as well as general information regarding property and business owners’ rights when faced with eminent domain.

California Water Commission OK’s Eminent Domain for Delta Project, 11/18/11

By A.J. Hazarabedian

The California Water Commission voted Wednesday to begin eminent domain proceedings, affecting 20 landowners.  According to The Record‘s article Vote clears state to seek eminent domain for drilling on delta properties,” the Commission is allowing the State Department of Water Resources to acquire permanent easements for drilling purposes from landowners in Sacramento County.

According to the State, the drilling is necessary to help choose the best route for a new tunnel which would move Sacramento River water through the delta to other counties.  While the easements are only about 16 square feet, the landowners have objected to the takings, specifically because they don’t know exactly where the drilling will take place.  The properties are mostly farmland and property owners fear it may affect their wells and irrigation lines.

The State claims the drill holes will be “about the size of a softball” and will be “filled with grout and abandoned” once their work is completed.

There are 46 landowners affected by this delta project and, as reported by The Record, only two have settled.

Eminent domain is the power of local, state or federal government agencies to take private property for “public use” so long as the government pays “just compensation.”  The government can exercise its power of eminent domain even if the owner does not wish to sell his or her property.

To learn more about eminent domain, check out our California Eminent Domain Handbook by clicking here.

San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement Project Will Require Eminent Domain, 8/23/11

By A.J. Hazarabedian

The San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement Project in the city of Goleta will require eminent domain; this according to Noozhawk’s article “Attorney Says Vote on Eminent Domain Puts Goleta Council ‘On a Road to Litigation.’”

At the August 16th City Council meeting, councilmembers adopted a “Resolution of Necessity” to acquire the necessary parcels by eminent domain.

A “Resolution of Necessity” is the government agency’s formal decision to acquire property by eminent domain.  It must be adopted before the condemning agency can commence an eminent domain action in court.

The project, per the city’s website, will include “the removal and replacement of both the existing concrete flood control channel from Hollister Avenue to the Twins Screen Drive-in property and the existing Hollister Avenue Bridge over San Jose Creek.”

While the city is only seeking portions of private properties for the project, the attorney for the property owners suggests that the city acquire the parcels on the east side of the channel in their entirety.  He argues this “would allow the construction equipment, vehicles and materials to be on site and accessible as needed, instead of affecting properties on both sides of the channel.”

As often occurs on properties potentially affected by eminent domain, the attorney points out that “eminent domain has already caused a major tenant to leave the property in anticipation of the difficulties that might happen as a result of the city’s activities.”

The article indicates Community Services Director Steve Wagner is hoping to continue negotiating with property owners, but adopting the Resolution of Necessity aids in the timing of the project.

Cathedral City May Use Eminent Domain to Acquire Angel View Thrift Mart, 8/22/11

By A.J. Hazarabedian

A thrift mart in Cathedral City is facing eminent domain to make way for future downtown development, reports The Desert SunAngel View Thrift Mart has been operating at the East Palm Canyon Drive location since before the city was incorporated.  And now, if the city gets their way, the store will be forced to relocate.

The article, “Cathedral City plans to push Angel View move” quotes the store’s General Manager Tracy Powers stating, “[they] don’t want to stand in the way of the city accomplishing their goal [but they're] distressed in that the city is not more forthcoming in details on what they can do for [them].”

The thrift mart was offered $750,000 for their property but Powers says he is less concerned with the money and more interested in finding a suitable place to relocate the business which will maintain the store’s revenue.

As for a possible relocation site?  The city had offered Angel View another building on East Palm Canyon Drive over a year ago.  However according to the article, Powers and the city weren’t able to come to an agreement regarding the necessary repairs the building would have required.  Now, Powers has learned that this same proposed relocation site is slated for demolition.

Where does this leave the Angel View Thrift Mart?  For now, they’ll have to wait for Cathedral City’s council meeting on September 14th when the issue is expected to be discussed.

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COPYRIGHT © 2010 Arthur J. Hazarabedian, Esq.