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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 13

Meeting Date: August 14, 2007

Subject/Title: Adopt a Resolution supporting legislation developed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority to revise Senate Bill 1210, a bill that was passed in 2006, changing the legal process by which public agencies acquire properties by eminent domain.

Prepared by: Steve Kersevan, Traffic Engineering Manager

Submitted by: Bailey Grewal, Director of Public Works/City Engineer

RECOMMENDATION
Adopt a Resolution supporting legislation developed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority to revise Senate Bill 1210, a bill that was passed in 2006, changing the legal process by which public agencies acquire properties by eminent domain.

PREVIOUS ACTION
None.

BACKGROUND
Contra Costa Transportation Authority (“CCTA”) staff requests that its jurisdictional public agencies adopt the attached Resolution, which supports changes proposed by CCTA and other public agencies to Senate Bill 1210 (“SB 1210”). In 2006, SB 1210 was passed and signed into law by the Governor. SB 1210 modified or repealed several statutes in the Eminent Domain law. The intent of SB 1210 was to give additional rights to property owners faced with public agencies acquiring their property through eminent domain. The goal of the legislation was to strike a balance between the public good and the protections afforded to property owners.

However, SB 1210 imposes new and potentially costly burdens on public agencies. As a result, a court cannot grant a public entity early possession of property that is being condemned unless it finds that the hardship to the public agency of denying early possession outweighs the hardship to the property owner or occupant granting early possession. This could mean that, after a public project is planned, designed, reviewed under environmental laws, budgeted, and construction estimates are obtained, a public agency may find itself unable to advertise or award the construction contract until after there is a judgment or, potentially, until after the appeal of that judgment, which could take years, resulting in substantial cost increases and, in some cases, the loss of available project funds.

CCTA has analyzed the bill and has indicated that, in cases where legal action is necessary to acquire property needed for a public project, it could add up to two years to the timeline for awarding and constructing the project. SB 1210 may have serious implications for projects such as the Highway 4 widening. Attached is a timeline depicting the pre- and post-SB 1210 time frames for taking possession of property in cases where there is no settlement up front.

CCTA has been working to develop "cleanup" language to address these concerns and to generate support for new legislation. CCTA staff has been in discussions with the author of SB 1210 and with other public agencies with a similar interest in expeditious project delivery. They hope to be able to have legislation passed this year to accomplish this change and request the support of local jurisdictions. The intent of the proposed cleanup legislation is to address the concerns about California's eminent domain process that gave rise to the adoption of SB 1210, while remedying some of the unintended fiscal and project impacts created by SB 1210, and clearing up procedural ambiguities.

FISCAL IMPACT
None.

Attachments:
Resolution
CCTA SB 1210 Comparative Timeline Chart

RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD SUPPORTING LEGISLATION DEVELOPED BY THE CONTRA COSTA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY TO REVISE SENATE BILL 1210, A BILL THAT WAS PASSED IN 2006, CHANGING THE LEGAL PROCESS BY WHICH PUBLIC AGENCIES ACQUIRE PROPERTIES BY EMINENT DOMAIN.

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 1210 (“SB 1210”) was passed and signed into law by the Governor in 2006; and

WHEREAS, SB 1210 made significant changes to the legal process by which public agencies are authorized to obtain pre-trial possession of property being acquired by eminent domain; and

WHEREAS, SB 1210 imposes new and potentially costly burdens on public agencies; and

WHEREAS, SB 1210 makes no allowance for emergency possession by public agencies in cases where there is an urgent need to protect the public's health and safety, and public services; and

WHEREAS, analysis of the SB 1210 by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and other public agencies indicates that the legislation of SB 1210 can add up to two years to the timeline for awarding and constructing public improvement projects; and

WHEREAS, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, working with other public agencies, has identified specific concerns and developed solutions to address these concerns in the form of proposed cleanup legislation.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood does hereby certify that the City of Brentwood supports:

1) the proposed cleanup legislation to SB 1210 developed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority; and
2) the need for a fair and equitable balance between the greater public good and the protections afforded to private property owners; and
3) legislative resolution to eminent domain issues that may impair project delivery and to communicate this position to state officials.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at a regular meeting held on 14th day of August 2007 by the following vote:
 

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