Land Use & CEQA
As a private landowner, you may believe that you have complete control of your property, but the truth is that land use is regulated and zoned by the government. If the government wants to use your land for a project that will benefit the public good, like the expansion of a school, roadway or water system, you may be required by law to give up your land in exchange for fair compensation.
What is Land Use?
The government’s ability to regulate how your land is used varies from city to city. Depending on the location of your property, you may have restrictions that dictate how your land can be developed or improved. These can include zoning, site planning, partitions, easements and more.
All these restrictions that apply to your individual property are part of how a local government determines what can be built and where, also called land use. Land-use decisions are supposed to be made for the good of the entire community. In some cases, these restrictions go outside the local community and are dictated by the state, such as with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state law that requires environmental considerations to be part of land-use decisions.
It’s wise for property owners dealing with any type of land-use issue to consult a qualified attorney, like the lawyers at Palmieri Tyler, who have many years of experience dealing with a wide range of land-use concerns.
Land Use & Eminent Domain
Under the wider scope of land use law, there are some circumstances under which the government can take privately owned real estate. If government officials determine that a new road — or some other public works project — is needed, they may offer fair market value for the property and take it from the owner. In some cases, the property may be resold or assigned to a third party, who will presumably create some sort of economic development project that benefits the community as a whole. Rarely, privately owned land is purchased by the government because of a safety issue that makes the land uninhabitable or dangerous to develop.
The formal act of taking eminent domain over a piece of privately-owned property is called condemnation. The landowner may challenge the condemnation in court, or, more commonly, may challenge the offered value as being under market value.
There are situations where it may be possible to legally challenge eminent domain, such as when the government is seeking more land than it needs for the proposed public project or has a questionable use for the property. More commonly, landowners seek legal help when the government’s proposed valuation is less than reasonable. Palmieri Tyler attorneys are some of the most experienced eminent domain lawyers in the state of California and can help you with any aspect of your eminent domain case.
Inverse Condemnation & CEQA
When the government takes or uses private property for public use, the landowner may request financial compensation. In some cases, inverse condemnation may apply if the land was damaged by the government. Controversial uses of inverse condemnation occur when government regulations are so strict that a property owner finds he or she is unable to develop or use the land, leading to a loss of value.
Some landowners have found that CEQA regulations will prohibit them from using or developing their property and have claimed this is a type of regulatory taking. If you are in a position where you may not be able to develop your land as you wish due to excessive environmental regulation, contact the attorneys at Palmieri Tyler for a free consultation.
How Can the Government Acquire Land?
Once local or state government officials have decided to undertake a public project, they begin by determining if any private land may be impacted. Then, they use government resources to determine the value of that property. You, as the property owner, will receive a notice that the property is being condemned under eminent domain.
As long as the use is proper and benefits the public interest in some way, the government is within the law to take private property in this manner. Concerns arise when the government values the land at a low price that doesn’t take into account unique characteristics or business costs associated with the land.
Contact an Eminent Domain or Land Use Attorney at The Palmieri Tyler Law Firm
As soon as you discover that your property is going to be condemned under eminent domain, or you find that government regulations under CEQA could impact your land use, you should consult with an experienced land-use attorney. At Palmieri Tyler, our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined legal experience dealing with thousands of eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases.
Not only can we represent you in your legal claim, but we can assist with proper valuation of the property and can negotiate on your behalf with government officials, lessening your stress. We have extensive knowledge of local and national issues that impact your property rights, and we will be your partners in challenging powerful government personnel who want to undervalue your land. Call us today at (949) 851-7294 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.