At its October 9, 2014 meeting, the West Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (“WSAFCA”) adopted Resolution 14-10-01, which authorizes the General Manager to make offers and take “any and all actions that may be necessary” to acquire private property for the purposes of the Sacramento River Southport EIP Project (“the project”). The project is part of the West Sac Flood Protect program, which represents the City of West Sacramento’s efforts to address several deficiencies in the existing levee system. The project encompasses a 3.6 square mile area containing 5.6 miles of existing levee structure along the South River corridor.

The Resolution states that in order to construct the project, property rights will need to be taken from at least 60 property owners along the Sacramento River in Southport. To accomplish this task, WSAFCA has the power of eminent domain and may use condemnation to take private property for its project.

According to WSAFCA’s Real Estate Plan, the overall project will require the taking of 295 acres for the levee structure, 50 acres for easements, and 30 acres for temporary and permanent rights associated with roadways. To date, roughly 25 property owners have been contacted by WSAFCA’s right of way agent, Bender Rosenthal, Inc., to negotiate the purchase of the necessary property interests. WSAFCA’s initial priority is taking property for the Interim Village Parkway and currently occupied residences. Resolution 14-10-01, authorizes the General Manager to initiate the acquisition process to purchase approximately 140 acres of property needed to build the interim Village Parkway from Gregory to Davis Road.

Know Your Rights

WSAFCA is obligated by law to make every reasonable effort to acquire the property interests through negotiation. The first step is for WSAFCA to have the property appraised. The appraisal must comply with California eminent domain law. It is supposed to represent the highest price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller based on the highest and best use of the property. WSAFCA must provide each property owner with a written statement of the basis of the offer. Among other things, the statement must include: (1) a general statement of the agency’s proposed use of the property; (2) an accurate description of the property to be acquired; (3) the highest and best use of the property; (4) the amount considered to be the just compensation; and (5) the comparable sales relied upon to reach that amount. So how do you know if WSAFCA’s offer meets this test?

You can hire your own appraiser. WSAFCA is obligated to pay the reasonable cost, up to $5,000, for the independent appraisal. The appraiser must be licensed by the Office of Real Estate Appraisers. No other legally enforceable conditions apply.

An appraisal for eminent domain involves an extensive understanding of the law and valuation principles. It is not the same as a general appraisal you may have received in the past. The appraisal must comply with legal principles that are unique to condemnation. The potential appraiser should be familiar with these principles, and it may be advisable to hire an attorney to ensure compliance and review WSAFCA’s appraisal.

You are not obligated to accept WSAFCA’s offer. If WSAFCA is unable to negotiate a purchase of the property, WSAFCA can initiate an eminent domain proceeding in California State Court to take the property by force.

If you have any questions or concerns, we are more than happy to discuss your rights and obligations in greater detail.