Acquisition of Properties Covered by Williamson Act Agricultural Preserve Contracts

California’s Williamson Act, also known as the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (Gov. Code § 51200 et seq.), provides that “it is the policy of the state to avoid, whenever practicable, the location of any state or local public improvements and improvements of public utilities, and the acquisition of land therefore, in agricultural preserves.” …

Don’t Forget The Consistency Finding!

An often overlooked pre-condemnation requirement is that the project be reviewed for consistency with the general plan.  California Government Code section 65402 requires that a city, county or local agency may not acquire real property until the location, purpose, and extent of such acquisition have been submitted to and reported upon by the “planning agency”…

Using An Unavoidable Dilemma To Your Advantage

Consistent with my Practice Tip to Avoid the Potential for Precondemnation Damages (November 14, 2017), I always recommended that public agencies proceed with the precondemnation process in a noncommittal and conditional manner.  This is because evidence showing that the agency has pre-committed to the acquisition can be used to challenge the agency’s otherwise lawful adoption…

Substitute Acquisitions to Provide Access

The Eminent Domain Law allows for the condemnation of property to replace property being taken from a private owner with other, substitute property.  These acquisitions are referred to as “substitute takings.” One common situation occurs where a property acquisition and project cuts off another property owner’s access to utility service or public roads.  Section 1240.350(a)…

How to Approach Closing Costs

Closing costs are fees–including escrow and title fees–associated with the purchase of real property that are paid at the close of escrow.  In typical arms-length transactions, both sellers and buyers are responsible for paying some amount of the closing costs.  As discussed below, special treatment should be given to closing costs in an eminent domain…