Riverside Property Owner Loses Right-to-Take Challenge in Eminent Domain Case
Posted in Right to Take

Several years ago, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District filed a "friendly" eminent domain action to acquire a portion of an unimproved "paper" street from the City of Lake Elsinore.  The property was to be used to construct a water pumping station to serve a nearby development, and the City had no objection.  The water district took possession, and began construction of the pumping station.  So far, this seems like a non-story, right?

Well, to the water district's surprise, a nearby property owner appeared in the action and challenged the water district's right-to-take the property; the owner claimed to have an interest in a portion of the unimproved street, and also asserted that the project limited access to his neighboring property, thereby diminishing its value.  The neighboring owner asserted that if he was unsuccessful in challenging the water district's right to take the property, he sought over $750,000 in damages. 

This was not what the water district had planned for when it filed the condemnation, which involved a minimal payment to which the City had already agreed.  And given that construction had already commenced on the project, I'm sure concerns arose about what would happen if the owner won the right to take challenge (for example, see our e-alert on the Marina Towers decision and our subsequent update).  So what happened here?

According to a Press-Enterprise article, "Judge rules in favor of Elsinore Valley water district in eminent domain case," after years of litigation, a Riverside County Superior Court judge denied the neighboring owner's right-to-take challenge, and ultimately found that the owner had no interest in the property being acquired.  Thus, despite the long and unplanned journey through the court system, the water district came out victorious.

California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain. We cover all aspects of eminent domain, 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 eminent domain conferences and seminars in the Western United States.

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