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The various types of takings in the eminent domain process

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Eminent Domain

The eminent domain process allows government agencies in California to obtain private property for public uses like building infrastructure or laying utility lines. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution require government agencies to make fair compensation and give property owners an opportunity to be heard when they exercise their eminent domain powers. Eminent domain was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in an 1875 case involving a piece of property that was obtained by the federal government to build a post office.

Partial or complete takings

Government agencies have several options when exercising their eminent domain powers, but they must comply with the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause. A complete taking encompasses an entire property or parcel of land. In these situations, government agencies must pay the owner the property’s fair market value based on its best and highest use. When only part of a parcel is taken, the property owner’s compensation may include indirect damages if the value of the rest of their land is reduced.

Temporary and regulatory takings

The compensation property owners receive when eminent domain is used to obtain land temporarily is based on rental rather than market values. This often happens when land is required to store construction equipment and supplies. Regulatory takings occur when government regulations limit the use of private property and reduce its value. Regulatory takings can be partial, complete or temporary, and a property owner may a receive fair market price if their land loses all of its value.

Constitutional protections

Government agencies can use eminent domain to acquire property needed to complete infrastructure projects, but their powers are limited by the U.S. Constitution. Eminent domain takings can be complete, partial, temporary or regulatory, but property owners must receive fair compensation, be properly notified and given an opportunity to be heard.