In Governor Gavin Newsom’s first State of the State address, he called for the creation of a strike force charged with developing a comprehensive strategy to address the destabilizing effect of catastrophic wildfires on the State. On April 12, 2019, Governor Newsom announced the results of that dedicated effort, in the form of a report titled Wildfires and Climate Change: California’s Energy Future (Strike Force Report). Governor Newsom also summarized the findings of the Strike Force Report in a press conference that can be viewed here.
The Strike Force Report first sets out ...
On August 31, 2018, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 901, which addresses a number of wildfire-related items relating to public utilities. Governor Brown signed the Bill into law on September 21, 2018.
While the bill introduces a series of new changes, it is particularly noteworthy for what it does not include from Governor Brown’s initial June 2018 proposal for wildfire liability reform. At least for the time being, lawmakers abandoned the most controversial aspect of Governor Brown’s proposal for the bill: modifying California's strict liability ...
On August 30, 2012, the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal held that a privately owned utility could be subject to strict liability for inverse condemnation, thereby concurring with a similar holding previously reached out of the Fourth Appellate District.
A typical inverse condemnation action is initiated when a property owner files a complaint essentially asserting that a government agency is trying to take its property without filing a formal eminent domain action. Typical inverse condemnation claims involve ...
Sorry you haven't seen a post from me in a few weeks. My wife and I just had our first child (a future super star eminent domain attorney, of course), and I've been on "dad duty." My colleague Rick Rayl has been holding down the blog fort, although upon my return I see he's been blogging about things such as Canadian companies and mining rights in Nevada. Now that I'm back, how about some California eminent domain news?
After a flurry of post-Kelo activity, cries for eminent domain reform seem to have quieted in California in the past couple of years. Now, public utility companies are seeking to step into the calm in an effort to roll back some of the reforms that did occur.
One of the recent changes to California eminent domain law involves the procedures for obtaining prejudgment possession. Before Kelo, agencies could almost guarantee possession quickly. In fact, they could obtain orders for possession ex parte, meaning they didn't even have to provide owners with notice that they were seeking possession. Under those rules, by the time an owner learned that an eminent domain case had been filed, the order for possession was often already signed.
In 2006, the California Legislature passed SB 1210, which changed the prejudgment possession process. In particular, it
- Extended dramatically the time it takes to get possession (it now takes more than 120 days for occupied property);
- Ensured property owners would receive ample notice before a court considered a motion for possession; and
- Created a new balancing test that required courts to balance hardships in determining whether or not to grant an agency prejudgment possession.
Public utility companies are now looking for a partial exemption from these new rules. Assembly Bill 2162, introduced February 18, 2010, by Assemblyman Niello, would allow public utilities to obtain prejudgment possession orders ex parte when immediate possession will not displace or unreasonably affect any person in lawful possession of the property’s surface estate.
AB 2162 had been set for a hearing before the Utilities & Commerce Committee on March 22, but on March 17, the Bill was amended, and yesterday it was referred back to the Committee. It is not yet clear how much momentum the Bill has, and no hearing date has been set. We'll let you know what happens.
One of the oddities of California's public utility system is that private companies own and operate many of them, yet they behave very much like governmental entities, especially when it comes to eminent domain. Major examples include Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric ("PG&E"); both are private companies functioning as public utilities, delivering electricity to their constituents, and both are overseen by the Public Utilities Commission.
Occasionally, an actual governmental entity will seek to replace the private utility company. Such is the case ...
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.