A woman sitting at a table looking at letters about her eminent domain case.

Things To Know About Eminent Domain

On Behalf of Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire LLP
Jan 27, 2021

Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use in certain circumstances. The Constitution includes this right, and federal, state and local authorities can invoke it. There are certain things that residents of California should know about eminent domain in order to protect their own individual rights.


The government cannot take the private property of someone without reasonable compensation to the owner. Reasonable compensation is typically the fair-market value of property as determined by sales of similar property in the past. If an individual does not think they received reasonable compensation for their property, they should hire an eminent domain lawyer to preserve their rights.


Governments need a legitimate public purpose to initiate a taking of property. This often involves constructing a public project or preventing a public harm. If the government cannot prove that the taking is promoting a public good, the taking might be invalid.


In some instances, the government may require an individual to give an easement to a public utility or a government body. An easement is a non-possessory interest in a property. It is sometimes used for sewers, telephone lines and other purposes. Even if someone needs to provide an easement to the government, they will ordinarily still receive reasonable compensation.


Sometimes, state governments will argue that the taking promotes economic development and that this is a public benefit. Courts may consider such a purpose a legitimate reason to initiate a taking, but only if the government can prove that the taking would have a profound economic impact on the community. If the government is arguing that a taking involving your property would stimulate the economy or promote a public good, it is important to speak with legal counsel to preserve your rights and protect your interests.