Yucca Valley, Ca.- At last evening’s Town Council meeting, Town Manager Mark Nuaimi presented properties requiring the Council’s approval to acquire 30′ easements through the powers of eminent domain to pave a 60′ wide road. While this Town Council is on the record for being pro-property owner’s rights, there was some debate on the matter and many questions asked before the final vote.
There were no costs presented for the legal fees to proceed down this path and during the discussions, it was revealed that Nuaimi had not received any responses from the property owners from a mailing and there had been no personal contact to discuss any price offerings or to find out the individual property owner’s situation.
Councilmember Dawn Rowe, a staunch advocate for property rights, expressed her concern due to the small dollar amount being offered to the property owner, ( $2,400) versus the costs of filing legal action. She felt the owner had rights to his property even if he choses not to develop his parcel which would require an easement to proceed.
Councilmember Hagerman was concerned for the six property owners that were not involved in the eminent domain action because their residential streets butted up to the unimproved dirt road and had been dealing with sand/dirt erosion for many years when it rained. Appointed Councilman Merl Abel was concerned with the costs for the Town to shovel the shifting sands upstream after every rainy season. (There was no engineer’s report to support the paving of the road would mitigate this problem since the road is located in a natural wash.)
Town attorney, Lona Laymon explained any “settlement” is usually swift and quick when the Town files eminent domain. As I see it, after all these years, what exactly is the rush into eminent domain?
Seems un-American to me for our little community. I would have preferred to see the Town Councilmembers insist on personal contact before jumping on the Nuaimi eminent domain band wagon.
By Toni Momberger
Real Estate Editor-SB Sun
“People rarely respond to eminent domain cooperatively.”
“When eminent domain is involved, so is a battle.
Sometimes it’s because an elderly person spent a lifetime in a home and wants to die there. Sometimes it’s all about money. The homeowner feels he’s not being offered fair market value.
Here’s how eminent domain works. At some level of government, someone decides a private residence should be seized because the land is desirable for public use- like a highway or a school, or economic development- like a parking garage or commercial buildings.
It can also be for safety. In Pennyslyvania a whole town was seized by eminent domain when it was condemned in 1992 as hazardous.
The government may assume rights in any property, without the owner’s consent but is supposed to pay just compensation to the homeowner.
The process starts with the government’s attempting negotiation to buy the property. If that’s unsuccesful, it files a court action to exercise eminent domain and serves the property owner notice.
The government must prove at a hearing that it tried its best to arrange a fair purchase, and that the land seizure is justified by the definition of the law. If the petition is granted, a hearing is held to establish how much money the homeowner deserves.
“There is always a fight,” said Jeanine Shedlock of Keller Williams Realty in Ranch Cucamonga. She said the state and the owner don’t agree that what’s offered is fair market value. “That’s the thing-just compensation. The battle comes down to, what is just compensation?”
For more of this article go to www.sbsun.com, May 6 & 7, 2011, Real Estate Section
For additional information on this legal process visit: www.eminentdomainlaw.net/index.html
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