Authorization to Condemn? Yes, provided it is necessary for the attractiveness, safety, or usefulness of a project

California Code of Civil Procedure §1240.020: A public agency may condemn property for a particular public use where the Legislature has delegated the power to condemn for that use.   But what if the project’s design includes construction of a specific, but tangential, structure or thing for which the legislature has not given the agency the express statutory power to condemn? 

For example, a public agency is condemning property to construct a street widening project, for which condemnation is authorized by statute.  Say that, as part of the project, the agency would like to condemn additional property to construct of some sort of aesthetically pleasing artwork or design, or simply create a buffer zone between one type of property and the newly-improved highway.

But what if there is no separate statute authorizing the condemnation of property for these specific improvements or work?

Don’t fret—the Eminent Domain Law has got you covered.  If an agency has the power of eminent domain to condemn property for a particular improvement (like the street widening project), Section 1240.120 of the Code of Civil Procedure gives the agency authority to condemn whatever additional property as is necessary to preserve or protect the attractiveness, safety, and usefulness of the public improvement.  No separate statutory authorization is needed.

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