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Highway widening project raises concerns about eminent domain

Thanks to our pleasant year-round weather and natural beauty, California boasts a healthy number of permanent residents and visitors alike. This also means though that with more people comes more vehicles, and more vehicles equals more traffic on our already congested roadways.

This increase in congestion has led to a large number of highway construction projects all over the state over the last few decades that have all made the promise of making commutes that much easier for California drivers. This is the same promise being made by city officials in Sacramento County where a highway widening project is already being scheduled along Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael and along Hazel Avenue in Fair Oaks.

But the construction project may raise concerns in the minds of our readers, especially considering the fact that the county is using eminent domain to gain ownership of parts of 34 properties in Fair Oaks and Carmichael.

Eminent domain, as you may or may not know, is a law that allows the government to expropriate -- or take ownership of -- private property for public use. In the Sacramento County case, the Board of Supervisors gave permission to county negotiators to invoke eminent domain if they were unable to reach a mutual sales agreement with property owners.

Some property owners near the project have already expressed concern over construction, raising questions about an increase in traffic and the possibility that sidewalks may be too close to properties now. For one apartment complex, the widening project raised concerns about vehicles accidentally leaving the roadway and colliding with the building.

The biggest concern though among our San Diego readers may be regarding the use of eminent domain and whether landowners were given fair compensation for their property. Although reports do not indicate the possibility of litigation at this time, the use of eminent domain may raise considerable unease in the community in the weeks and months to come, paving the way for potential litigation down the road.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Eminent domain set for road projects in Fair Oaks, Carmichael," Tony Bizjak, Nov. 7, 2014

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