Eminent domain laws give the State and its subentities, Cities, Counties, Water Districts, Flood Control Districts, Public Works Departments, and other local municipalities the right to force a property owner to sell the government their property for a public use or project. Prior to intitiating this power, the government entity must approach the property owner and appraise the property it intends to acquire. The law requires the government to make a "prelitigation offer" prior to intiating the condemnation proceeding in Superior Court.
You do not have to accept this offer. In fact, most property owners are unhappy with, and skeptical of these prelitigation offers. The reasons is that Eminent domain laws are unique; complicated; and only apply in Eminent domain matters. Valuation questions and issues are much different than a those that occur in a regular market transaction, primarily because a sale in Eminent domain is compulsory (involuntary).
The government is required to pay the fair market value for its acquisition. "Fair Market Value" is a term unique to Eminent domain. What does it mean? When the appraiser works for the government, how do you know that is what you are being offered?
Please contact Peterson Law Group if your property or business may be affected by a public project, public use, or other government activity.
The truth is you don't, this is why you have the right to bring in your own appraiser. The city is likely to reject another appraiser's valuation. This is okay. If you take your case to court, a judge will have to consider it. To learn more about handling this type of matter in court and how an attorney can help you with it, please visit our firm's website.
It is bad enough when the city wants to take your property from you. They only make things worse by low-balling the offer on your property. The city does not have the right to take advantage of you. California residents who are about to lose their property to eminent domain laws can seek help in either fighting the acquisition or at least seeking fair value for the land.