PROCEDURE THE GOVERNMENT MUST FOLLOW

Under the very detailed provisions of California’s Eminent Domain Law, there are three major procedural steps in an eminent domain case.

First, the public agency does its preliminary inspection of the property. It may enter onto the property to inspect it and to perform reasonable tests as needed to evaluate the suitability of the property for its intended use. CCP 1245.010. The public entity may enter the land, either with the landowner’s consent, CCP 1245.020, or after obtaining a court order. CCP 1245.030. If the land is damaged by this inspection, the landowner is entitled to compensation. CCP 1245.060.

Second, the public agency must pass a resolution of necessity. CCP 1245.210. The statute spells out the required contents of such a resolution. CCP 1245.230. The statute also spells out the requirements for notice and hearing before adopting such a resolution. CCP 1245.235.

Third, an eminent domain proceeding is commenced in California Superior Court. The action ordinarily should be held in the County in which the property is located. CCP 1250.020. The action starts with the filing on an ordinary complaint, CCP 1250.110, and an ordinary summons. CCP 1250.120. At the time that the action is filed, the public agency seeking the property is required to file with the Court, and record with the Recorder’s Office, a notice of pending action or lis pendens regarding the action. CCP 1250.150. The public agency then has to deposit into court its best estimate of the amount the property is worth. CCP 1255.010. If such a deposit is made, the public agency may seek a court order for possession of the property prior to trial. CCP 1255.410. At trial, the landowner can fight the entire taking, on the grounds set forth in CCP 1250.360. The usual purpose of the trial is to fix the value of the property taken. CCP 1260.210.

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