Perhaps the most talked-about California eminent domain case in 2009 has been the City of Stockton v. Marina Towers decision, in which the Court struck down the City's right to take property where the resolution of necessity contained no real public purpose (not surprising, since the City did not know at the time it filed the action what it would do with the property). The case's tag-line usually played out like this: the "project" was the condemnation itself, which does not qualify as a public purpose.
This holding was itself somewhat interesting, as California law contains relatively few examples of a court's rejecting the government's right to take property. What gave it real pizazz, however, was the fact that while the case was pending, the City of Stockton figured out what it wanted to do with the property -- and it proceeded to build the new, Stockton Ballpark on it.
With no right to take, who now owned the shiny new stadium? The court's solution was to allow the government a chance to file a new action to condemn the property now that a legitimate public use had attached. And this week, the City Council voted to do just that, authorizing a new condemnation action to acquire the property.
Record Staff Writer David Siders writes in a December 2 article "Stockton revisits ballpark land seizure: Disputed property line divides left field from right" that the City agreed to commence a new action following a short public hearing Tuesday night. The City's action was in response to a court-imposed December deadline to re-file; despite its action, the City claims to want to reach a settlement:
"This has gone on way too long, and we need to resolve this," Mayor Ann Johnston said.
That said, the parties may have vastly different views about the property's value:
During the initial eminent domain trial, a jury put the value of the Marina Towers property at just less than $2 million. Marina Towers previously said the value is closer to $6 million.
We'll let you know what ultimately happens.
Rick Rayl is an experienced litigator on a broad range of complex civil litigation issues. His practice is concentrated primarily on eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and other real-estate-valuation disputes. His public ...
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