One of the big eminent domain stories of the last few weeks involved the oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court in the Florida beach case. That case involves whether a government program to add sand to parts of the Florida coastline, creating new public beaches in front of private property that had been beach front constitutes a taking. For more information about that case, see my December 15 article, "Erosion Control, or Coney Island South?" published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.
Now, two other water-related takings issues are making news. The first, as reported December 14 by ...
Sierra Madre will allow its citizens to decide whether the city can use the power of eminent domain for private purposes. According to a Pasadena Star-News article, "Sierra Madre resident[s] will vote on eminent domain," the city council agreed to put a proposed measure on the April 2010 ballot which would prevent the city from (1) condemning property and turning it over to a private developer, and (2) funding or cooperating with any other city agency using eminent domain (such as the Redevelopment Agency).
According to the article, City councilman John Buchanan is ...
Everyone knows the sad tale of America's automotive industry: companies operating only through government subsidies and dealerships shutting their doors across the country. So when the City of Vista came up with a plan to "create a second downtown car dealership and boost sales tax revenue," one would think the public would embrace it.
But like many bold plans, this one has a wrinkle. While most of the property needed to facilitate the plan is available for purchase, including the existing North County Ford site, one additional parcel is needed.
According to North County Times ...
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 ...
So it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I thought I should spend some time thinking about what I'm thankful for (apart from Cal's victory at Stanford last Saturday). Here's a list of three things an eminent domain attorney can be thankful for:
1. I Live in a Country With Eminent Domain. I know, who spends time being thankful for eminent domain? But think about it. In many places, the government just takes property, paying nothing. Even in this country, before it was this country, when the Pilgrims took land from existing Native American tribes just after inviting them over for a ...
It seems most commentators on eminent domain generally, and on the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes in particular, adopt an extreme stance. The loudest voices, especially in the "post-Kelo" world, tend to be property-rights advocates who denounce virtually any use of eminent domain, especially for redevelopment purposes.
A good example of this appears in a recent San Diego News Network article by Brian Peterson, president of the Grantville Action Group: "What we Learned at a Redevelopment Conference: Don't do E-mail." The article summarizes two ...
Why would this (or any other) blog need another post about Kelo v. City of New London. It probably doesn't, which is why this will be short.
But, for anyone who still wants more of the story behind Kelo, the soon-to-be-closed Pfizer facility, or the heated arguments they engender, the New YorK Times ran an extended piece, A Turning Point for Eminent Domain? on November 12 that contains a number of different, high-level views on the subject. (It also contains plenty of less than high-level views, as the story had generated 55 comments within just a few hours of its posting.)
And, for anyone ...
The impetus for one of the most infamous eminent domain cases in U.S. history was the City of New London, Connecticut's efforts to utilize a massive Pfizer plant as the basis to revitalize the surrounding area. (The common myth that Pfizer was itself the intended beneficiary of the Kelo property is not correct.)
The decision, Kelo v. City of New London, triggered a nationwide backlash against eminent domain when the Supreme Court ruled that economic growth, by itself, qualifies as a public purpose sufficient to satisy the right to take property by eminent domain.
The tale of what ...
In an October 31 article for the North County Times, "VISTA: City wants to redevelop motel property," reporter Cigi Ross writes about the City of Vista's plans to acquire a motel property as part of a plan to redevelop the area:
The owner of a downtown Vista motel is accusing the city of trying to kick him out of his business and his home.
City officials announced Monday they're trying to purchase the Vista Riviera Motel as part of a redevelopment project along Vista Village Drive and Vista Way that could include a new car dealership.
While the City's efforts currently involve a voluntary ...
There are any number of property rights advocates who believe eminent domain is always wrong, and should never be allowed. As an eminent domain lawyer who sees how eminent domain works both from a landowner and from an agency perspective, I find it hard to understand that extreme viewpoint. Does eminent domain abuse occur? Of course. Are there situations where agencies condemn things they should not condemn? Absolutely. Would the infrastructure needed for modern society exist without eminent domain? Maybe not. And thus, the story of a world without eminent domain:
Nancy was ...
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 ...
Yesterday's IRWA Chapter 1 seminar in Los Angeles was a great success, with an outstanding panel of speakers. The morning started with an informative presentation by Dave Guder of Southern California Edison about the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project and renewable energy sources in general.
The liveliest discussion, however, centered around a narrow issue that triggered some surprisingly animated responses. The issue involved a condemning agency's use of one appraiser for the initial eminent domain offer and deposit of probable compensation, and another appraiser ...
In June 2005, the United States Supreme Court issued its now infamous decision in Kelo v. City of New London. That decision made eminent domain and condemnation household terms (imagine my shock at hearing my previously unknown, niche area of practice discussed in normal, day-to-day conversations). The decision sparked tremendous controversy, as the Court ruled that the City of New London, Connecticut could condemn properties for redevelopment purposes for purely economic reasons.
In other words, the City did not even pretend that it was acting to eliminate blight (the ...
The City of San Ysidro, a community on the border of San Diego, is currently contemplating whether it should extend its eminent domain powers, which expired last year. The backlash from the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London appears to still be taking its toll, as the City's advisory committee, the San Ysidro Project Area Committee, is currently deadlocked on the topic.
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