City Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is the name given to the government's power to acquire privately-owned property for public use. This power can be exercised by any one of several different California government agencies. It can also be exercised by California cities. The advice of an experienced Los Angeles eminent domain attorney from Peterson Law Group is invaluable when facing an eminent domain action by city government. As an AV Rated law firm recognized for its successes in legal excellence, our clients receive quality counsel and effective representation.

Cities Seek to Acquire Property

Like other government units, cities may seek to acquire property for many reasons, including roadways, public utilities, and other services. And, like other government units, cities must follow the proper procedure when seeking to acquire private property by eminent domain.

In order to file an eminent domain action in court, a city government must first adopt a resolution of necessity explaining the city's position. A proper resolution of necessity will establish that the project for which the property is needed is a necessary project; that the specific property is necessary for the project; that placing the project on that property will give the greatest benefit to the public while creating the least detriment to the private property owner; and that the city has made an offer to purchase the property.

An Offer to Purchase Property

A city's offer to purchase property is based on an appraisal made by an agent hired or employed by the city government. This appraisal may fail to consider elements of property value that the property owner is legally entitled to be compensated for. In the case of business property, the City will rarely make an offer for the loss of business goodwill. The value of fixtures on the property is also an element of compensation, that must be valued. At Peterson Law Group, our experienced city eminent domain attorneys will ensure that a highly qualified independent appraiser also appraises the property. The independent appraiser may find that the property's value is significantly higher than the city's appraiser believed.

The city must also hold a public hearing to discuss and adopt the resolution of necessity and the proposed eminent domain action. The city must give notice of the hearing to the property owner and must give the property owner an opportunity to be heard at the hearing. Property owners may speak on their own behalf, or they may ask an eminent domain attorney to speak for them.

Once the city adopts a resolution of necessity, it may proceed with filing an eminent domain action in court. California law gives property owners the right to have a jury determine the fair market value of the property. When choosing a California city eminent domain attorney, a property owner should carefully review the attorney's credentials and record in jury trial cases.

Dependable Jury Trial Experience

The attorneys of Peterson Law Group have significant experience with city eminent domain actions both inside and outside the courtroom. Examples of successful cases presented by Peterson Law Group include:

$1.425 million in a case involving a multi-family property. The City of Burbank originally offered the property owners $960,000.

$1.425 million for the owners of a multi-family property, determined by a jury to be an appropriate amount after an initial government offer of $960,000.

$3.4 million for the property and business owner of a fiberglass and resin products manufacturing company. The agency initially offered $1.76 million. An additional $992,740 was obtained in settlement for the value of the business goodwill, business fixtures and equipment installed on the property, and relocation.

$4.0 million for a 20,000 sq. ft. parcel located diagonally from the Staples Center. The jury's $4.0 million award was upheld by the court of appeal, which also awarded litigation expenses. The original offer was $840,000.

$10.5 million for a freeway frontage auto mall property, where the original government offer for the real estate was $5.4 million.

Professional Ability

John S. Peterson of the Peterson Law Group is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), which is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States providing limited membership to attorneys who have tried numerous jury trials. Mr. Peterson is also listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, where attorneys must have million dollar results to be listed.

Peterson Law Group offers practical experience with city eminent domain cases, reflected in courtroom results. We believe in giving each client the personal attention they need during a difficult time. We work with highly qualified appraisers and experts, yet remain sensitive to the need for cost-effective litigation.

While we believe that anyone facing a city eminent domain action should have the benefit of experienced counsel, we also believe that selecting our cases carefully allows us to give the best possible personal attention to each client while also striving for the results each client deserves. Our city eminent domain attorneys look forward to speaking with you about your specific situation. Contact us today.

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