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Real Estate and Eminent Domain

January 25, 2020 — by John Conger
Tags: Real Estate Law Eminent Domain

Aerial shot of mostly undeveloped landGiven the cost of living and the property values in the Bay Area, it’s important to have a real estate attorney on your side when disputes arise. The lawyers of Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP have helped countless property owners in Stockton and Walnut Creek, CA, whether they’re homeowners, renters, landlords, or own a commercial property.

In addition to common issues for homeowners and renters, our law firm has also helped people with eminent domain disputes. Since these kinds of cases involve disagreements with the government, it’s essential to have a skilled attorney on your side to help with negotiations and standing firm.

What Is Eminent Domain?

In broad terms, eminent domain refers to the government’s ability to take private land for private use so long as the property owner is properly compensated. In many cases, this means taking a property in order to expand roadways, sewer lines, power lines, communications towers, and other public utilities.

Who Has Eminent Domain Power?

Various levels of government have eminent domain power. That means that federal, state, and local governments can use eminent domain for any public use projects that they may have in the works.

Just Compensation and Fair Market Value

When paying property owners for their land, the issue of fair market value comes up quite a bit. In order to determine the compensation for a property, appraisers consider the following factors:

  • The size of the property being taken
  • The zoning designation of the property
  • Accessibility of the property
  • The level of development at the property
  • Current use of the property
  • Potential use by the government
  • Unique characteristics at the property

Determining fair market value will have to take all of these factors and other matters into account.

Disputes Over Fair Market Value

Just because the value of a property has been assessed by the government doesn’t mean that it reflects the fair market value of the property. Many eminent domain disputes arise over the amount of compensation offered for a property. The valuation of property matters, and your own appraiser may disagree with the government’s proposed compensation amount.

If you feel that you are not being offered enough for your property, you can attempt to negotiate a better offer.

Disputes Over Public Use

Another common cause for disputes in eminent domain cases involves the notion of public use. Transportation routes, utility lines, national park land, and government buildings are traditionally considered public use projects. Yet the notion of “public use” can also cover other types of structures that benefit the local community, such as hotels, condos, and certain kinds of businesses.

Since “public use” is a term up for debate, the taking of your property could be disputed in court if the proposed project seems to have no community benefit.

Challenging Eminent Domain

Challenging eminent domain means going up against the government. Even at the city and local level, this can be difficult without skilled attorneys on your side.

Our eminent domain lawyers will examine your case, taking your property and the nature of the land project into account. We can help you seek fairer compensation for your property, and can even fight for you to maintain your property if the project does not serve the needs of the public.

Contact Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP

If you have questions about eminent domain and other matters related to land and property, be sure to contact our skilled team of real estate lawyers. You can reach our law offices in Stockton and Walnut Creek by calling (209) 477-8171.