Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation
The authority to take land is a weighty responsibility that can put public entities at the mercy of many unpredictable variables, from public skepticism to labyrinthine regulations. The end result can be a cost that is much higher than anticipated or even merited. Our experience and reputation demonstrate our ability to help prevent this from happening to our clients. We have successfully represented more than 50 public entities in eminent domain matters, and nearly as many in eminent domain litigation, on a variety of public projects across California.
We help public entities use eminent domain authority effectively and responsibly to build public projects. From project planning to public hearings, and from negotiation to trial and appeal, we help keep the process on track and minimize public entities’ financial risks. For example, during project planning, we work closely with clients on project schedules, legal imposition of deadlines, land use issues, title and complex valuation issues, and potential court challenges.
Our knowledge of the intricacies and nuances of eminent domain valuation principles enables us to better estimate land acquisition costs and make recommendations to minimize litigation costs and attorney fees. Our ultimate goal is to develop and implement cost-effective and timely land acquisition strategies that meet each client’s unique needs and goals. If a matter proceeds to litigation, we have the skills and experience to deliver positive results in the courtroom. We have been responsible for several published appellate court decisions and changes in legislation that have helped shape eminent domain law in California.
We have worked with cities, counties, public utilities, redevelopment agencies and special districts to acquire property for all types of projects, including highways, rail transit, railroads, public housing, commercial buildings, schools, parks, blight removal, sanitation and flood control facilities, water lines, dams, reservoirs, agricultural land, endangered species habitats, power transmission and other utilities, airports, and rights to air, subsurface minerals and wind power. To complement our services, we draw on a highly qualified and experienced team of other professionals as needed, including community relations consultants, environmental consultants, geotechnical experts, relocation agents, title and escrow officers, appraisers, and others.
We also have extensive experience defending public entities from all types of inverse condemnation claims – (1) physical taking claims (alleging a public entity’s project caused a physical intrusion onto a landowner’s property), (2) regulatory taking claims (alleging a public entity’s land use decision deprived a landowner of all economically viable use of his or her land, and (3) klopping claims (alleging a public entity engaged in “unreasonable precondemnation delay or conduct” that caused precondemnation damages to a property before it commenced eminent domain proceedings to acquire that property for a public project). In addition to defending against such claims, we routinely advise public entities during the eminent domain process as to how to avoid facing such claims in the future.