California Supreme Court to Decide Whether Certain Precondemnation Activities Amount to a Taking

July 16, 2014

The California Supreme Court has granted review of an important eminent domain case decided by the Third District Court of Appeal in March. In Property Reserve Inc. v. Superior Court of San Joaquin County, the appellate court found that certain provisions of California’s Eminent Domain Law allowing entry into property for testing purposes, also known as “entry statutes” (Code of Civil Procedure section 1245.010 et seq.), constituted a physical invasion of property, and hence a taking. In the case, a state agency had filed a “master petition” seeking a court order granting it rights of entry for extensive geological testing, including drilling and environmental studies from more than 150 parcels of land totaling thousands of acres. The Court of Appeal determined that both the geological and environmental activities amounted to takings and that the State was required to file eminent domain complaints to determine compensation for the affected owners.

 

The Court’s decision to grant review immediately decertifies the Third District Court of Appeal’s ruling. While public agencies may continue to seek court orders for testing activities, affected property owners may assert that these activities constitute a taking, pending resolution of the case.