In short, eminent domain law gives the state the legal right to seize a person's or business' private or real property for public use. Although the property owner will be financially compensated, the government does not require the property owner's permission to seize their property. The formal act of transferring title of the property from the private owner to the government is referred to as condemnation.
The power of eminent domain has always existed in the United States; however the Fifth Amendment limits the purpose of such action to public use. What "public use" entails is left up to the states. The most common reasons for the seizure of property under eminent domain include the construction of public utilities, highways, and railroads. In California, the expansion of the I-5 Freeway has resulted in the seizure of many properties under eminent domain.
While the government may take real or private property for the purpose of public projects, it does not mean that there is nothing the property owner can do about their situation. In many cases, the government's appraisal of the property value results in a compensation offer much lower than it should be. Furthermore, the purpose for which the property is being seized may not actually be for official public use, or the particular agency attempting to take the property does not have the legislative power to do so. For these reasons, and many more, it is important for any property owner facing condemnation or the seizure of their property for public use in California to contact an experienced attorney.
At the Peterson Law Group, P.C., knowledgeable Los Angeles eminent domain attorney John S. Peterson can examine the details of your situation and help you determine the best course of legal action. To find out more about your legal rights and options, call Mr. Peterson today at (213) 236-9720 for a consultation.