The Oxnard Union High School District began Eminent Domain procedures to acquire property owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The property is required for construction of a right-turn lane for the new Rancho Campana High School, scheduled to open in time for the 2015-2016 school year. According to reports, the City of Oxnard set a deadline of June 30, 2014 for the district to acquire the property or begin the eminent domain process. Although the parties are currently engaged in negotiations, the district initiated eminent domain procedures in order to meet the city’s deadline. On June 25, 2014, the school board voted 5-0, adopting a resolution of necessity. Representatives at the district are hopeful that a purchase of the property will be completed in the next few weeks.
A church is typically considered a “special use” or “special purpose” property because, due to its uniqueness, there is usually no relevant market of comparable sales for purposes of valuation. Where there is no relevant, comparable market for a property, Evidence Code section 823 and Code of Civil Procedure section 1263.320 allow the use of “any method of valuation which is just and equitable.” One method the Church could use to value its property is to appraise the land alone, according to market data, combined with an appraisal of the improvements on the basis of reconstruction cost. (See City of Pleasant Hill v. First Baptist Church (1969) 1 Cal.App.3d 384, 396-397.)