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Victorville and Church Continue Negotiating Large Difference of Opinion, 12/2/11

By A.J. Hazarabedian

A new article in the Victorville Daily Press about a large difference in opinion of value caught our attention this week.  The city of Victorville and the First Assembly of God church have been negotiating for three years about the La Mesa/Nisqualli interchange project and how it will affect the church operations.

The article, “Church, city have $7.5M difference of opinion” talks about the problems involved and discusses both sides of the issue.

Per the article, the project will cause the church to lose about 3 percent of their property which includes 56 parking spaces.  The church was offered “$560,000 last spring based on a real property appraisal, but the offer has since been lowered to $436,000 in light of a small redesign and recent property value declines,” according to the Victorville Daily Press.

The church’s attorney, however, claims the total damages to the property are valued at $8 million.  As we explain in our “California Eminent Domain Handbook,” a property owner is not required to accept the condemning agency’s offer.  Instead, the property owner may make a counter-offer, or may assert a higher value for his or her property once the eminent domain action is filed in court.  Property owners, tenants and business owners often receive higher, and in some cases, much higher compensation than the amount of the condemning agency’s offer by asserting a claim for greater compensation in the eminent domain proceeding.  This is, of course, not always the case.

In this circumstance, the difference of opinion is $7.5 million.  City Manager Doug Robertson states in the article that “the City has rejected their demand for over $8 million as compensation for these 56 parking spaces, which comprise less than one half acre of land.”

The church’s pastor Josh Gerbracht explains “it’s not just the land they’re taking, but it’s the overall impact on access, traffic, parking spots, future building, the visual impacts…”

A mediation is scheduled between the two parties for January.  If a settlement is not reached, a jury will determine just compensation in a February trial.

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.

COPYRIGHT © 2010 Arthur J. Hazarabedian, Esq.