Public Works Acquisitions

California land owners may have their property taken away from them by the government in the form of a public works acquisition. Public works acquisitions are governed by California law and carried out by the California Department of Transportation (Cal Trans) and other state agencies. Since the process can be complex and involve multiple government agencies, the California public works acquisition attorneys at Peterson Law Group provide helpful legal guidance and quality representation to land owners facing a public works acquisition.

A public works acquisition goes through several phases. They include:

  1. Selecting the site. The site may be chosen by the Legislature, the Department of General Services, or any California government agency that needs to set up a public works project on the property. Once a site is selected, Cal Trans must meet several legal requirements before it can approve a purchase:
    • Implied dedication must be considered in the appraised value. An "implied dedication" is a right to the use of an easement, which may be created over time. The existence of an implied dedication reduces the value of the property.
    • The project complies with the California Environmental Quality Act ( CEQA).
    • A relocation study must be done and the Department of Transportation must approve relocation costs if the property is improved.
    • The project must have a completed legal description and title report for each parcel of property.
    • The California Transportation Commission must give notice of its meeting to interested parties, including the current property owners.
  2. Approving the purchase. Purchases of land for public works are usually carried out by public works agencies, including Cal Trans. The agency’s board approves the purchase if the final price is higher than the appraised value.

If the agency cannot convince the property owner to sell, Cal Trans or another agency may file an eminent domain action in court to acquire the property. Before filing, the agency board must adopt a California resolution of necessity, which must meet legal requirements.

Any one of several California agencies may file an eminent domain action in court. Each agency must meet several complex legal requirements when taking on a public works acquisition.

Effective Legal Solutions in Los Angeles

Peterson Law Group has dedicated years to serving those in need of legal assistance for eminent domain issues, including public works acquisitions. An attorney with substantial jury trial experience makes all the difference in obtaining the full and just settlement that you deserve. As an American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) member with a strong AV Martindale rating, and in being included in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, John S. Peterson of the Peterson Law Group has the legal knowledge and skill necessary for your eminent domain case.

Successful Jury Verdict Records

The Peterson Law Group California eminent domain attorneys have tried jury cases and obtained successful verdicts, including the following:

  • $3.4 million for a property owner in North Hollywood whose property was appraised by the government agency at $2.1 million. Peterson Law Group demonstrated that the property's highest and best use made it worth considerably more. The jury found the actual fair market value of the property was $3.4 million. On top of the jury verdict, Peterson Law Group recovered a settlement of $842,000 to relocate the business.
  • $10.5 million for the owner of an auto dealership adjacent to the 405 Freeway. The owner was originally offered $4.5 million.

At Peterson Law Group, we offer practical experience with public works acquisitions, reflected in real-world courtroom results. We choose highly qualified expert appraisers, yet we understand the need for cost-effective litigation. Our experienced California public works acquisition attorneys welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation and help you determine the merits of your case.