On April 1, Nossaman’s Eminent Domain Group hosted a webinar to discuss the impacts COVID-19 is having on the Right of Way industry. First, I’d like to thank the people who attended, many of whom added thoughtful questions to the discussion. It’s clear a lot of people are giving these issues a lot of thought. Second, obviously things continue to evolve at a breathtaking pace, and even by the time this post goes from being drafted to appearing on the blog, things are likely to change.
Note that this post is not meant to recap the things we discussed at the webinar. If you weren’t able to join us and want to review what we covered, feel free to download the COVID-19 PowerPoint we used, or watch the entire recorded webinar. No, the purpose of this post is to provide some insights as to what other right of way professionals are thinking about a few of these issues. During the webinar, we asked several poll questions, and since the Nossaman team found the results interesting, I’m hoping some of you will as well.
Before I show the results, you should know that among the more than 300 people who attended, 37% were Acquisition Agents or Relocation Consultants, 19% were Attorneys, 14% Appraisers, 12% work in Project Management or Construction, and the rest were the ever-elusive “Other,” so we had a pretty good cross section of the industry. And while most attendees were from California, we also had people attend from Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, Hawaii, and Canada. And now, on to the questions:
Question 1: When do you Think the Shelter-in-Place Order Will Be Lifted in California?
As you can see, the vast majority (73%) think we’re stuck in our homes until the end of May or June, with a few optimists (end of April) and a few pessimists (fall 2020).
Question 2: What is Your Biggest Right of Way Concern Right Now?
This question yielded a surprisingly even set of concerns, with obtaining timely possession, construction delays, litigation impacts, and the ever-present “other” all getting about the same response. A smaller number are worried about the expiration of their temporary construction easements before construction is finished. (I was a little surprised at this, because I have a couple of situations where TCE expiration is a very real concern.)
Question 3: What Impact is COVID-19 Having on Construction of your Ongoing Projects?
It was nice to see that, at least for now, almost half the projects were moving ahead as usual, but about a quarter are seeing some delays already, and another quarter foresee major delays or complete work stoppage. In one bright spot, at least a few are actually seeing construction timelines accelerated to take advantage of closed businesses and greatly-reduced traffic, which can allow construction to proceed with less impacts to the public.
Obviously, these questions represent only a snapshot in time (and coincidentally, it was April Fool’s Day, so take all of this with a grain of salt), and it contains responses from only a small segment of the industry. Still, we appreciated getting the input from our clients, colleagues, and friends, and I wanted to pass along the information.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help. We’re here – well, actually, we’re all at home in pajamas, but we are all working and available to assist. Stay well, and stay safe.
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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