On February 9, 2017, California Assembly Member Phillip Chen (a Republican from the 55th district) introduced Assembly Bill 408 (AB 408). You can find a copy of the bill here. AB 408 is styled as an “act to amend Section 1250.410 of the Code of Civil Procedure relating to eminent domain.” There is very little history available on AB 408 and it appears that the next action is for it to be heard in committee on March 12, 2017. If AB 408 is ultimately approved in its current form, it would radically change the standards by which courts decide whether or not to award litigation expenses in eminent domain actions. This, in turn, could drastically impact public projects in California because property owners may have less incentive to settle pre-litigation or during early litigation. This could lead to increased costs, more trials, less judicial discretion, and more opportunity for mischief. Fundamentally, it could cause right-of-way costs to go up dramatically and projects may take longer to build.
I wrote a detailed analysis of AB 408 that was published by Nossaman as an e-alert this afternoon. You can find a copy of the e-alert here. If you are involved directly or indirectly with eminent domain in California, I encourage you to read it.