California company fights eminent domain and wins

Business enterprise takes on government entity and overcomes. While this may sound like something out of a made for television drama, it is reality for some in California. The fact that the government entity was utilizing the eminent domain process to acquire property and the business enterprise was able to fight back and finally come to a settlement provides hope for others.

Several years ago, a local steel company was informed that part of its property was going to be taken through eminent domain. The company was first offered over $200,000 for the property. The state then adjusted its offer to just over $110,000. According to the property owner, $1 million was offered later, which he also rejected.

Rather than give in, the property owner believed that there was something wrong with the way in which the process was being conducted. As a result, he decided to fight the process. The company contacted the local board of supervisors regarding its concerns. He also contacted representatives from the Economic Development Commission. Finally, rather than taking the matter to court, the state decided to settle, and the property owner is no longer threatened with eminent domain.

Many times, it is necessary for property to be taken by use of eminent domain. However, California has established procedures by which this should be done. In addition to the public use requirement, fair compensation must be provided to the property owner. In this case, it appears that there was a problem in determining what would be fair compensation. For other businesses who may face a similar problem, experienced legal counsel can help in determining the appropriate course of action.

Source:, "Frontage road took years to win," John Rieping, Aug. 21, 2017

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