High-Speed Rail is nothing more than a "full employment" act for lawyers looking to drain dry both sides.
- By a pure accident of fate, the trial lawyers fully fund the Democrat Party that demands the useless pork barrel rail system that will employ an army of lawyers for years on end.
- A perfect circle of corruption.
- The property rights of local people are being crushed in order to line the pockets of lawyers up and down the state.
Real estate attorneys are seizing a monumental opportunity as the People's Republic of California lumbers ahead with its high-speed rail plans in the central San Joaquin Valley.
The Fresno Bee reports that with 1,100 or more pieces of property in the path of the proposed route between Merced and Bakersfield, lawyers who specialize in eminent domain cases could see business spike over the coming months as the state's High-Speed Rail Authority starts trying to buy land for rights of way.
|A sign posted at a home close to the train's proposed |
route near Hanford, in Kings County.
"I think there's going to be a lot of attorneys who have never handled an eminent domain case who will suddenly be experts," said C. William Brewer, an eminent domain specialist with the Fresno law firm Motschiedler, Michaelides, Wishon, Brewer & Ryan.
Up and down the Valley, the rail authority anticipates spending tens of millions of dollars to buy the land it needs in Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties. The agency hopes to begin construction next year on a stretch of about 30 miles from northeast of Madera to the south end of Fresno -- the first portion of what is ultimately planned as a 520-mile system linking San Francisco and Los Angeles.
But some vocal property owners, including farmers, are loathe to part with their property and have vowed to force the state to use its power of eminent domain -- a potentially costly and time-consuming ordeal.
Eminent domain, or condemnation, is a legal process by which a government agency can declare a public need for property and sue to acquire it if the government cannot reach agreement with the landowner. A judge decides whether the agency is entitled to the property; in a second phase, a jury decides the fair market value and other compensation due the owner.
KFI 640 AM John and Ken on California's High Speed Rail
The rail authority last week identified four companies that it plans to hire, at a cost of $34 million, to negotiate the rights-of-way purchases in the Valley: Hamner Jewel Associates of Pismo Beach, Continental Field Services Corp. of Virginia, Universal Field Services of Oklahoma, and Golden State Right of Way Team in Sacramento.
Those four companies will be tasked with not only negotiating with property owners to buy their land, but also to survey, appraise and perform environmental assessments on the properties, handle utility relocation, and provide relocation assistance to businesses and homeowners that will be displaced by the line.
|Amtrak Rail Map.|
California already has a rail system in place.
But leaving the current system in place means
there is no new tax money to steal.
But if there is a chasm between what the state wants to pay and what the owner believes he or she is due, the state can proceed with a public hearing on what's called a resolution of necessity to seize the land. Negotiations, however, can continue all the way through the process, even into a trial.
"These public agencies typically send out a right-of-way agent, and these guys are pretty savvy," Brewer said. "Their job is to try to talk the property owner into accepting the initial offer and discourage them from talking to an attorney."
Attorneys don't come cheap. Some charge based on their billable hours invested in a case. Some charge a contingency fee based on a percentage of the amount ultimately recovered, while others base their contingency percentage only on what they successfully gain for their client above the government's original offer.
In some instances, if a judge determines that the government's offer was unreasonably low, the court can order the state to pay the property owner's legal fees as part of the award.