Receivable deposit keys quick-take eminent domain, SC rules

Legal News Line Feb. 23, 2007, 6:38am

Justice Ming W. Chin

SACRAMENTO -- Two important conditions governing California's so-called "quick-take" eminent domain action are both constitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled late yesterday. In quick-take actions, condemners can take possession of condemned property before compensation litigation with owners is complete if they deposit "probable compensation" with the courts. In the case of San Jacinto Community College District vs. Superior Court of Riverside County/Azusa Pacific University (no. S132251) the Supreme Court affirmed an Appeals Court ruling on the constitutionality of both issues. First, the court ruled in favor of a requirement that the condemned property be valued on the day that "just compensation" is filed by the condemner. Second, it allowed the condemner to make receipt of the deposit by the owner conditional on waiving rights to future disputes with the condemner. On the first issue, "the value of the property on the date of the deposit is a fair amount to award the owner for the taking of its property," wrote Justice Ming W. Chin in the unanimous decision. "A greater award would be unjust to the condemner." On the second issue, writes Chin, "as long as a probable compensation deposit [is] available...for 'prompt release'...a waiver of the right to challenge the validity of the taking if the owner elects to withdraw the deposit does not undermine the constitutionality" of the condition. The case has now been remanded "for further proceedings consistent with this conclusion."

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