Public agencies in California are once again getting busy with new projects. It seems at every event I attend all the right-of-way professionals, appraisers and eminent domain attorneys tell me they’re fully occupied. Recent news articles support this conclusion.
For example, according to an article in the Orange County Register, Santa Ana council OKs EIR moving forward on Warner Avenue widening using eminent domain, the City of Santa Ana has adopted a final environmental impact report for the Warner Avenue Improvement Project, which will reconfigure the road from Main Street to Grand Avenue, and ultimately require the acquisition of 31 full residential, six partial residential, two full commercial and 13 partial commercial properties. Given the public opposition, the City is already planning on having to use eminent domain for the acquisitions. The partial acquisitions are usually the most controversial, as property owners have disputes as to damages to their remaining property and impacts from construction of the proposed project. Similarly, the acquisition of commercial properties bring the possibility of business losses, which are typically subject to a wide discrepancy in valuation opinions.
Similarly, according to an article in the Hi-Desert Star, Water district takes first steps toward eminent domain for easements, the Hi-Desert Water District is in the process of building a new sewer collection system, which will require the acquisition of 353 easements just for the first phase of the project. The District has already successfully negotiated 216 acquisitions, but 96 remain unresolved, and where negotiated settlements could not be reached, the District’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution of necessity in order to use eminent domain to acquire the easements. A number of property owners have raised concerns about how the proposed acquisitions will impact the ability to develop their properties, but the District must push forward with condemnation as its loan for the project is contingent upon having all necessary property interests under control.
Finally, according to an article in the Manteca Bulletin, Manteca seeks right- of-way for interchange, the City of Manteca is getting ready to take steps to obtain the right-of-way needed to convert the McKinley Avenue undercrossing of the 120 Bypass into a full-scale interchange. The property acquisitions are expected to cost $4 million to complete the project. Once complete, the project will improve traffic circulation in the area. But interchange projects typically result in significant impacts to nearby properties, so it will be interesting to see whether Manteca has prepared a realistic right-of-way budget.