The government is expanding bicycle pathways in some areas of California by invoking eminent domain. On Nov. 30, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to expand a bicycle pathway that will require the seizure of private property.
Property owners object
At the Los Angeles City Council meeting, five property owners who will be affected by the eminent domain decision asked the council to vote “No,” but their arguments were rejected. The small expansion of a 14-mile bicycle path will connect the Santa Monica Pier with Exposition Park and the University of Southern California.
According to the property owners, an agreement was made with the council in 2012 that allowed for a 13-foot easement. However, the current plans that are being discussed are for a 16 to a 54-foot easement. The previous agreement also included plans for the construction of a sound wall, but the current plans do not mention a sound wall.
The council’s arguments
One councilman at the meeting stated that, while he understands the property owner’s concerns, he thinks that the property owners won’t be losing too much. The councilman argued that the areas where the bike path will be constructed are already restricted use, so property owners were never allowed to build permanent structures there. He said that property owners would not lose any access to their front or backyards or garages.
What is eminent domain?
Eminent domain is a federal and state law that allows the government to seize private property if it is in the public’s interest. The government must fairly compensate property owners and present compelling reasons for invoking eminent domain. Property owners that are affected by eminent domain can negotiate for higher compensation if they don’t like the initial offer from the government.