Eminent Domain Valuation Case Depublished

The California Supreme Court has depublished an eminent domain case from San Diego County on the question of when to value property taken by the government.

The state high court's depublication order was actually the court's second pass at the eminent domain case, which involves the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board's taking of property to build the Mission Valley East trolley line.

In 2005, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the proper date for valuing property taken from one property owner was the date the eminent domain trial started. The transit board contended the valuation date should have been a year and a half earlier, when the board deposited probable compensation with the court.

Later, in a different case, the state Supreme Court ruled that in "quick take" proceedings, such as the one used by the transit board, property should be valued on the date the government deposits probable compensation with the court. (Mt. San Jacinto Community College District v. Superior Court, (2007) 40 Cal.4th 648; see CP&DR Legal Digest, April 2007). The Supreme Court directed the Fourth District to reconsider its decision in light of Mt. San Jacinto.

The Fourth District did so but determined that Mt. San Jacinto did not apply because the transit board's deposit was so much less than the jury ultimately awarded the property owner (see CP&DR Legal Digest, February 2008). The board had originally deposited $79,000 in 2001, then increased the amount to $300,000 just before the trial started in early 2003. The jury awarded the property owner $1.1 million for the property, plus another $1.3 million for other takings and damages.

The transit board asked the state Supreme Court to overturn the appellate panel, but only Justice Joyce Kennard voted to hear the case. Instead, the court ordered the decision depublished, meaning it may not be cited as legal precedent. The case is San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board v. RV Communities, No. S160495.