Posts in Projects.

As we all get into the holiday spirit, don’t forget to keep your skills and knowledge sharp for what is looking to shape up as a very active 2020 in the projects arena.  Join our Nossaman Partners for the following year-end conferences before settling in for your long winter’s nap! ...

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As we have seen far too many times in California, eminent domain becomes a key tool for public agencies in order to keep public works construction on schedule and avoid jeopardizing state or federal funding.  According to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Santa Cruz council approves eminent domain for road widening, situation is playing out in Santa Cruz, where the City Council recently approved the adoption of a resolution of necessity to acquire two properties by eminent domain in order to satisfy a July deadline for a $2.8 million construction grant.

The properties in question ...

In a recent unpublished Court of Appeal decision, Downs v. City of Redding (October 30, 2018), the Court took up two distinct issues: (a) whether a contractor’s use of property for construction staging constitutes a taking when such use is not authorized by the agency, and (b) whether "just compensation" requires payment of damages for the taking of a tree.  Both of these issues are common occurrences in many of the projects we work on and while the Court’s holdings may not come as a surprise, they are a good reminder of the fairness and equity courts apply to such issues ...

Posted in Projects, Valuation

We wanted to provide some timely articles for those of you in the eminent domain and valuation arena.

First, Brad Kuhn, the Chair of Nossaman’s Eminent Domain and Valuation Practice Group, was recently featured on the cover of the July/August 2018 issue of Right Of Way magazine—a publication of the International Right of Way Association.  Brad participated in an Industry Roundtable in the issue on leveraging the right of way professional in today’s fast-paced design-build world.  The  Roundtable examined the critical right of way component in infrastructure projects and how ...

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For years, the College of the Desert has been seeking to acquire the former Palm Springs mall in order to expand its campus to the west valley.  It has been quite a lengthy battle, as the property owner had repeatedly objected to the College's use of eminent domain for the site.  However, last week, the parties finally reached a settlement of the condemnation action, with the College agreeing to pay $22 million for the property -- dramatically more than the $9.6 million the College originally offered to pay.

According to an article in the Desert Sun, the 29-acre property will allow the College ...

Infrastructure projects take years to develop:  the environmental review, funding, design, procurement, and construction of a public project is time consuming in any state, but even more so in California given the strict regulations and oversight any public agency must comply with.  During that lengthy process, private properties situated in the proposed project alignment remain in a state of flux.  When those impacted properties are slated for development, what are the parties to do?

According to an article in the Morgan Hill Times, Council OKs new housing in one of two ...

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With the passing of California's new gas tax (SB1) earlier this year, local government agencies have come across a new source of funding to complete public infrastructure projects.  According to an article in the Ceres Courier, Caltrans Seeks Comments on Service Road Interchange, the City of Ceres hopes its Service/Mitchell/Highway 99 Interchange project can benefit from the new funds.  As part of the project, Caltrans and the City are planning one of the State's first "diverging diamond" designs, which would add a new interchange at Service Road and modify the Mitchell ...

There has been a lot of news lately concerning President Trump’s desire to build a border wall. Many of the articles focus on the efficacy, costs and practical challenges of building the wall.  But the discussions are also starting to move into our world of eminent domain.  An Op Ed piece in the Washington Post  talks about Donald Trump’s Great Wall of Eminent Domain and mentions that 67 percent of the nearly 2,000 border miles constitute private and state-owned lands. The Daily Beast published an article called The Great Wall of Trump Would Be the Ultimate Eminent Domain Horror Show ...

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For years, we've been working with our public agency clients during the environmental and design-phase to minimize right-of-way impacts with new infrastructure projects.  Yet for many agencies, property acquisitions are an afterthought, as the costs of construction and environmental impacts headline agencies' concerns.  That thought process is slowly beginning to change, as agencies are starting to recognize that right-of-way acquisition can significantly delay projects, resulting in construction delay claims, change orders, loss of project funding, and in ...

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It's an exciting time with the Olympics taking place in Rio De Janeiro.  But what takes place before the Olympics ever gets off the ground involves years of planning, lobbying, and infrastructure development.  That development often requires use of eminent domain.  And in countries without due process and constitutional rights to just compensation, the condemnation process is an ugly endeavor for those impacted.

In Rio, for example, KUSA reports in its article, Rio de Janeiro villages uprooted for Olympics, that leading up to the games, eminent domain was often used "without warning ...

Santa Clara County, the City of Palo Alto, and the local Housing Authority have come together to acquire the Buena Vista mobile home park from its current owner, the Jisser family, in an effort to save the mobile home park from closure. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the mobile home park contains the homes of 400 or so mostly low-income residents.  The Jisser family has been trying to close the mobile home park since 2012 to prepare for future redevelopment of the site.  If the Jisser family refuses the government’s latest offer to purchase the mobile home park, the trio ...

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At some time or another, most of us have experienced sitting in our cars at a railroad crossing waiting for what seems like the longest freight train in the world go by. And it always seems to happen when you’re late for an appointment or for once trying to make it home in time for dinner.  If you live or work in the San Gabriel Valley, sitting in traffic waiting for the freight-train to go by is likely a daily occurrence.

With vehicle and rail traffic projected to increase, in 1998, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCG) decided to do something about the safety and traffic ...

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As cities become more dense and urbanized, it is common for infrastructure to get outdated or insufficient to handle increased demand.  We see this with roads, highways, schools, and even utilities.  When new infrastructure is needed, many times eminent domain becomes necessary to acquire property in the way of the proposed new project.  But sometimes those properties are historical or, given their longstanding presence, have sentimental meaning to the community.

Such a situation is currently playing out in the City of Oakley.  According to an article in the Mercury News, Oakley ...

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The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the nation's largest regional planning agency and is governed by an 86-member Regional Council, made up of elected officials from among the six counties and 191 cities who are members.  SCAG develops  a variety of policy and planning initiatives to create a sustainable Southern California region.  Every four years, SCAG must develop a ...

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While much of the focus in California lately has been on eminent domain for transportation projects, there's some new condemnations moving forward in both Northern California and Southern California for social -- or community -- development projects.

  • Down south, the San Diego Union Tribune reports that the Port of San Diego has exercised its condemnation powers to acquire four acres of prime property on Chula Vista's Bayfront in order to construct the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan project.  The Master Plan, approved by the Coastal Commission in 2012, is a joint project ...
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There are two interesting projects in San Diego County that are moving forward, both of which involve at least some use of eminent domain.

The San Marcos Creek Specific Plan is proceeding in, not surprisingly, San Marcos.   The project involves efforts to create a new downtown area for the City.  The project has been a long time in the making, with the City adopting its initial specific plan back in July 2007.  A 2015 PowerPoint presentation describes the City's plans for the area.  And just this week, the City filed at least four eminent domain actions as part of its efforts to implement the ...

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At its March meeting, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved funding to improve and maintain California’s multimodal transportation system.  According to the District 2 Press Release, allocations included:

  • •$12.5 million for 11 capital improvement projects both on and off the state highway system as part of the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP),
  • •$17.8 million for two Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program projects, and
  • •$15.5 million for 22 Active Transportation Program projects - the most recent active transportation ...
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We have seen a trend where local agencies are choosing to replace stop-sign and signal controlled intersections with roundabouts.  The concept is not new; we see them throughout Europe and on the East Coast.  But until recently, there weren't many out West.  But that is changing and the City of Yucaipa is one of many embracing the new model.  According to this post in the Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mirror, last month the Yucaipa City Council adopted plans for roundabouts at 6 intersections:

  • Yucaipa Boulevard & Bryant Street
  • Avenue E & Bryant Street
  • Avenue E & 2nd Street
  • Avenue E & 3rd Street
  • Avenue E ...
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The wait is nearly over:  for those living on the Westside of Los Angeles, passenger rail transit will be available in just a few short months.  Officials announced this week that the final extension of the Expo Line will open on May 20, extending service from Culver City to just a few blocks from the Santa Monica pier.

This will be the first passenger rail transit service to the far Westside since Pacific Electric streetcars stopped running to Santa Monica in 1953.  The project completes the 15-mile Expo Line between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.  Train trips between downtown Santa ...

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Public transit continues to be a major focus throughout Southern California, with virtually all of the county transportation agencies planning or undertaking important passenger rail projects throughout the region.  Some of those transit projects in Los Angeles and Orange County received a major boost this week, as the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Obama administration has earmarked $500 million in the proposed federal budget for the next fiscal year for LA Metro's Westside Subway (Purple Line) and Regional Connector projects and OCTA's OC Streetcar project.

LA ...

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The City of Menlo Park is proceeding with two transportation projects.  The first one, an undercrossing to separate bicycles and pedestrians from rail traffic at Middle Avenue, received the green light from the City Council on December 15.   The City has committed $210,000 and has authorized staff to apply for an additional $490,000 in San Mateo County Measure A sales tax funds to pay for preliminary engineering work on the project.  The City estimates that the design and construction of the undercrossing will cost approximately $11 million.

The City’s second project is the Ravenswood ...

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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 ...

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Despite efforts by Congress to finally approve a long-term highway bill that would have secured funding for key infrastructure projects for the next several years, last week Congress managed only to kick the issue down the road a few more months.  It approved a three-month extension of the existing bill, meaning federal highway funds will continue through October 29.  But come October, funds will once again be at risk of drying up if Congress does not enact another bill.

Not surprisingly, neither party is particularly thrilled with the three-month extension, and for good reason.  As ...

As the old adage goes, the three most important things to consider with real estate are location, location, and location.  But any developer who has lived through a real estate cycle, and any public agency that is under a funding deadline or working through a project’s environmental approvals, knows that timing may be even more important than location.  Indeed, timing considerations often create competing interests between public agencies and developers.  On the one hand, before commencing right of way acquisition, public agencies are required to comply with complicated ...

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Right of Way Certification is a key project milestone; not only does it mean a project is ready for advertising but obtaining certification by a certain date is often a prerequisite for funding.  Tying certification to dollars means it’s crucial that agencies acquire property and/or obtain orders for possession in a timely manner.  As we’ve discussed here before, this can mean filing an eminent domain action while still negotiating with property owners, something many agency boards are reluctant to do.

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The latest example of the perils of ...

Posted in Projects

The City of Temecula is moving forward with the French Valley Parkway.  The project involves construction of a new arterial, as well as improvements to the I-15 Winchester Road interchange.  Phase I of the project included constructing southbound off-ramps for the future Parkway.  These ramps are complete, but as a post on The Transit Coalition Inland Empire blog asked a year ago - "What the heck is going on with French Valley Parkway?"   The answer is the same now as it was then -- Caltrans and the City are working to establish the scope and phasing of the remaining improvements.  So when will it ...

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On Tuesday, the Lake Elsinore City Council adopted a Resolution of Necessity to acquire a 2+ acre property in order to expand Serenity Park.  As Michael Williams describes in his article "City hopes to take over boat launch,"  the expansion is part of the City's plan to develop a skateboarding arena .  The City's staff report says the City has been negotiating with the property owners for about a year, but that they have not agreed on a price for the property.  The staff recommended the city move forward with an eminent domain lawsuit.

It isn't clear why the owners rejected the City's offers ...

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As this article by OCTA explains, the Southern California region is growing both in terms of population and in the volume of goods moving through the region via both road and rail.  I am sure many of us are familiar with the impacts this has on our daily lives -- like being stuck for what feels like hours at a train crossing.  But several local agencies are doing what they can to ease our pain.  In Orange County, OCTA is in the midst of its OC Bridges program building grade separations.  And in Los Angeles, the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE) has completed several new ...

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We've been following the saga of the Keystone XL pipeline for a while now, and the battle rages on in Washington.  Yesterday, the Republican-led Senate attempted to override President Obama's veto of a bill to approve the pipeline.  For those a bit lost in all the political and legal wrangling, the recent story began with a bill in Congress designed to grant approval to the controversial pipeline project.  The bill passed the Senate on January 29 and the House in mid-February and was sent to the White House for President Obama's signature.

But just as promised, President Obama vetoed the ...

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At its meeting last week, the California Transportation Commission allocated $174.8 million to 85 projects around the state.  Some of the projects receiving allocations this month include:

  • $22.5 million for  construction of SR-905/SR-125 connectors in San Diego
  • $20 million to realign Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County away from the eroding shoreline
  • $19.4 million to rehabilitate the Elysian Viaduct Bridge in Los Angeles
  • $6.3 million for reabilitation of the Sierra Point Overhead bridge near South San Francisco
  • $5.9 million to replace the aging Hilt Road Overcrossing on I-5 near ...
Posted in Projects

The California Transportation Commission met in Riverside on Wednesday.  On the agenda was the allocation of $254 million in funding for transportation projects throughout the state.  You can read Caltrans' press release here.  Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty commented:

Investing in our infrastructure benefits Californians for generations to come and these projects will improve mobility for all users of the transportation system, whether they choose to travel by car, take transit or ride a bicycle.

Just under half of the money allocated came from Prop 1B funds.  ...

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There has been a remarkable movement lately throughout California:  local government agencies are attempting to take over investor-owned, quasi-public utility companies in an effort to reduce utility bills to their constituents.  A number of electric and water utilities are facing pressure from agencies to sell their assets -- or face having them acquired through eminent domain.  Does this make sense?

As just one example, according to one recent article by Garth Stapley in the Modesto Bee, SSJID can boot PG&E from Ripon, Escalon, Manteca, the South San Joaquin Irrigation ...

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According to Robin Richard’s article, "Needles May Exercise Eminent Domain to make way for Highway 95 Connector," the City of Needles is considering adopting Resolutions of Necessity to acquire 14 parcels for its long-planned I-40 connector project.   The City will be acquiring permanent road easements and temporary construction easements of various sizes.  The impacted properties include residential, commercial and motel uses.  Some of the acquisitions are fairly small, but as my colleague Brad Kuhn recently posted, even these sliver acquisitions can have impacts to the ...

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As traffic continues to increase and roadways become more congested, California's transportation infrastructure needs to keep up.  While there has been a concerted focus on alternative methods of transportation (such as rail, bikeways, etc.), street and highway widenings are still a major focus of local government agencies.  The County of Sacramento is no different, as it embarks on the Hazel Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard road widening projects.  These street improvement projects typically require right-of-way acquisition, and while the acquisitions are typically small ...

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The Contra Costa Times reported last week that the City of Pittsburg certified the environmental document for the Donlon Boulevard extension after nearly two decades of trying.  Although the vote was unanimous, the project has vocal resistance.   According to the Save Mount Diablo website, the project may induce growth, destroy a "spectacular" ranch and actually create rather than relieve traffic congestion.  That group has made clear it does not agree with the City's action.

Often once an agency has certified its environmental document, right of way acquisition soon follows.  ...

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At its meeting last week, the California Transportation Commission allocated $1 billion for local streets, highways and public transit.  This means a significant amount of money will be available for city, county and regional transportation agencies who will submit their projects to Caltrans in the coming months.   You can read Caltrans District 7 Press Release here.

The projects are spread around the state and include some major funding for rail projects as well as the usual highway improvements and also show that money will be coming to several California regions.  You can see a full ...

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Good news California:  local projects are continuing to receive federal funding.  Caltrans announced last week that the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted nearly $35 million in TIGER funds to six local and regional projects throughout the state.

The projects receiving funding include:

  • East Side Access Improvement Project ($11.8 million): This Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority project will create a network of bike lanes and sidewalks for bicyclists and pedestrians to access the new Regional Connector/1st Central Station in Los Angeles ...
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As public agencies continue to expand and build infrastructure throughout California, I've noticed a few recent themes.  First, many projects are supported by federal funds, usually through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) or the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  And second, agencies are becoming more creative in exploring joint development opportunities with the private sector to enhance their projects and the surrounding community.

To the extent you are part of, or work with a public agency, and are involved with a federally funded project involving a potential ...

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As we have reported in the past, public agencies are often faced with deadlines to secure possession of necessary right of way and ensure project funding.  Given the amount of time it takes to secure possession through the court process, agencies must proceed with condemnation actions even where they need additional time to negotiate with property owners.  Delaying the condemnation action for several additional months, while likely to lead to a settlement, ultimately places the project at risk if no deal is reached and thereby forces the agency's hand.  This is exactly what ...

Undaunted by the so-called "death of redevelopment," several California cities have pushed to reinvent -- a.k.a. redevelop -- their downtown cores.  And it appears to be working.

The San Jose Mercury News recently reported that the city of Fremont is breaking ground soon on its extension to Capitol Avenue, creating a new "Main Street" for its Downtown District.  And Fremont is not alone.  Stockton also has a plan to "Bring Downtown Back."  In Southern California, The Desert Sun reports that Palm Springs is moving forward with its downtown redevelopment.

So perhaps redevelopment ...

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As reported in the Willits News, Caltrans is going forward with public workshops for the Sherwood Road Intersection Project, one of four "child projects" of the Willits Bypass project, which is anticipated to increase the traffic on Sherwood Road.

But Willits residents won't be seeing improvements any time soon, because construction is dependent on the opening of the Willits bypass, a segment of US 101 through Mendocino County that has been in the works since the 1950's.  And construction of the bypass is currently suspended while Caltrans and the Army Corps of Engineers work ...

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The Oxnard Union High School District began Eminent Domain procedures to acquire property owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The property is required for construction of a right-turn lane for the new Rancho Campana High School, scheduled to open in time for the 2015-2016 school year. According to reports, the City of Oxnard set a deadline of June 30, 2014 for the district to acquire the property or begin the eminent domain process. Although the parties are currently engaged in negotiations, the district initiated eminent domain procedures in order to meet the ...

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As reported in Caltrans District 11's press release, there is much good news coming out of California Transportation Commission's meeting last week.  First, thanks to a new state budget that increased transportation funding by $351 million, CTC revised its budget for SHOPP projects to $2.4 billion.

Local projects also received good news with CTC's award of $510 Million to 83 transportation projects around the state.  As reported by Progressive Railroading, several rail projects received significant funding, which will hopefully allow those projects to proceed to ...

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On June 10, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, which, among other things, streamlines the U.S Army Corps of Engineers' infrastructure authorization process, accelerates project delivery, and authorizes federal funding for a variety of projects, including projects in California.  Among these California projects is the San Clemente Shoreline project, which includes construction and continuing maintenance of coastal protection measures along the San Clemente shoreline. 

Under the proposal that ...

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Eminent domain litigation can be expensive.  Not just the cost of acquiring the property (which is valued based on its highest and best use, and the "highest price" a willing buyer would pay), but the attorneys' fees, expert appraisal fees, and court costs all add up as well.  We're seeing the impact of such costs in the City of Adelanto, where the City has changed course on its plans to acquire a property by eminent domain.  

According to Brooke Self's article in the Victorville Daily Press, Adelanto halts eminent domain efforts, the City of Adelanto once planned to use eminent domain to ...

Posted in Events, Projects

Last week I attended the 2014 California Passenger Rail Summit where industry leaders met to discuss the modernization and integration of passenger rail service in California. While the California High Speed Rail train was an important element, to me the main takeaway was the vision of statewide rail connectivity benefiting all of California’s communities.

Several regional government representatives spoke about the success of existing corridors, such as the Capitol Corridor and the expanding LOSSAN corridor, as well as emerging corridors such as the Salinas Rail ...

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On March 20, 2014, the California Transportation Commission allocated $334 Million to 53 projects around the state.  As one Caltrans press release puts it, "Californians will be driving on smoother roads, safer bridges, and enjoying the benefits of enhanced transit."

According to Caltrans' director Malcolm Dougherty:

Every $1 spent on preventive pavement maintenance saves Californians $11 that would have been spent on future pavement repairs.

And we can all hope Caltrans is targeting those dollars in the right places.  Some areas that will be seeing significant funds include:

  • $59 ...
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The City of Bakersfield can now purchase property in the path of the Centennial Corridor Project between the Westside Parkway and Highway 58.  Under the early acquisition federal program, the City of Bakersfield may purchase properties from homeowners willing to voluntarily sell their property.  Approval for early acquisition of the sites will be requested at the next City Council meeting on March 5th.

On the other hand, the City may begin eminent domain proceedings for the 24th Street Widening Project to acquire the 23 homes in the project’s path.  The EIR for the project was approved ...

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On Wednesday, a Nebraska District Court dealt the Keystone XL pipeline project a heavy blow.  The court invalidated a law that allowed the state's governor to approve the pipeline's passage through Nebraska.  The court ruled that the state's legislature circumvented the Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates pipelines and other utilities, by allowing the governor to approve the route the pipeline would take through Nebraska.  The law also improperly granted TransCanada the power of eminent domain to acquire property within Nebraska, another decision that should ...

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The California Transportation Commission allocated $138 million to 32 projects around the state at its January 29th, 2014, meeting.  As Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty put it:

From one end of the state to the other transportation projects are providing good paying jobs while at the same time reducing traffic congestion for the people and businesses in California.

Many of the projects receiving funds are directly aimed at easing commutes.  Some highlights include:

  • $8.5 million to Metrolink for its High Speed Readiness Program
  • $11.9 million for the Raymond Avenue grade ...

California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain in California. We cover all aspects of eminent domain in California, including condemnation, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts, and report on all major California eminent domain conferences and seminars.

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