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San Diego, City of v. Barratt Am., Inc.

Citation: 35 ELR 20086
No. No. D044079, (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 04/25/2005)

A California appellate court, in an eminent domain action concerning the valuation of property to be used in a highway project, held that a trial court correctly precluded the city's valuation method of the taken property. The city argued that the taken property should be valued based on its "agricultural use" zoning because the proper method for disregarding the influence of the highway project on the value of the taken property would assume the project was abandoned on the valuation date. The city's preferred method, however, is inconsistent with the state code and prior case law. In addition, the property owners' valuation methods—which disregarded the influence of the project on the value of the taken property by assuming the project had never been contemplated and that development pressures would have resulted in a planning process for the area and upzoning by the valuation date—were appropriate under the facts of this case, and the trial court's instructions to the jury were adequate.