Eminent domain litigation can be expensive. Not just the cost of acquiring the property (which is valued based on its highest and best use, and the "highest price" a willing buyer would pay), but the attorneys' fees, expert appraisal fees, and court costs all add up as well. We're seeing the impact of such costs in the City of Adelanto, where the City has changed course on its plans to acquire a property by eminent domain.
According to Brooke Self's article in the Victorville Daily Press, Adelanto halts eminent domain efforts, the City of Adelanto once planned to use eminent domain to acquire an 11-acre parcel adjacent to City hall, but recently decided to halt its acquisition efforts. While the City had adopted a resolution of necessity to condemn the property to expand Richardson Park, the cash-strapped City no longer has the funds to pursue the project or the costly litigation.
There were two main reasons for the change of plans: first, the City's pursuit of state grant money did not come through; and second, the property owners demonstrated plans to build homes on the property, which would have likely increased the value the City would be required to pay in an eminent domain lawsuit.
The City, which is already struggling to avoid bankruptcy, explained its reasoning:
Rather than spending money on legal fees to try to pursue building the property, we decided to stop at this point in time.
Now that the City has stopped its acquisition of the property, it will be worth following whether the property owners move forward with a residential development. If they do, the City's pursuit of its park expansion plans at this site in the future will become much, much more expensive.