The Acquisition and Condemnation Section is responsible for acquiring the property rights necessary for constructing and maintaining the State's transportation system. A general overview of the acquisition process is provided to affected property owners in the booklet Your Property--Your Transportation Project (PDF).
The Department makes every effort to acquire property interests expeditiously in accordance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 as amended. Offers to purchase are based on a departmentally approved appraisal which determines the fair market value of the property rights being sought. Recent legislation allows for property owners to receive up to $5,000 in reasonable costs of a separate appraisal should they wish to get a second opinion. It is the Department's goal to settle these transactions in a fair, equitable and expeditious manner thereby avoiding the condemnation process.
When the Department and a property owner are unable to agree on the purchase of a property the condemnation process becomes the next step. The property owner is notified that the Department intends to seek a Resolution of Necessity (RON) from the California Transportation Commission (CTC), which will authorize the Department to file a lawsuit to acquire the property rights through the courts. The CTC generally meets on a monthly basis at different locations throughout the State.
The only issues considered by the CTC in adopting a RON are:
- The public interest and necessity require the project.
- The project is planned to provide the greatest public good with the least private injury.
- This property is required for the proposed project.
- An offer to purchase, in compliance with Government Code Section 7267.2, has been made to the owners of record.
The amount of compensation is specifically excluded from consideration in the adoption of a RON. If a property owner wishes to contest any of the four issues considered by the CTC in a RON, a request to appear should be sent within 15 days of receipt of the notice to the CTC Executive Director.
If a Resolution is passed, court proceedings can begin to consider the remaining issue of compensation. Negotiations can continue "right up to the courthouse steps". Ultimately, if no agreement is reached the court determines proper "just" compensation.