California high-speed rail wins in court – for now

A judge in Sacramento ruled in favor of the California High-Speed Rail Authority last month, allowing the Authority to continue its rail project between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Kings County landowners who brought the lawsuit claimed that the Authority failed to deliver on its promises to California voters, who approved funding for the project in 2008.

The Authority, they said, had failed to show that the trains would meet the travel requirements, be financially viable without a state subsidy and meet initial ridership estimates. Since the vote occurred, the High-Speed Rail Authority has made changes in an attempt to salvage the project, including agreeing to share tracks with commuter trains.

While the judge agreed that the Rail Authority has not met its promises, he believed a judgment against the Authority would be premature. You can read more about the lawsuit here.

Future lawsuits could play out differently

If the Rail Authority is unable to meet its promises to voters, there may be grounds for a similar lawsuit in the future. There are other cases against the Rail Authority pending to block the project and protect landowners. We’ll keep you up-to-date on new developments.

Landowner rights: The Rail Authority and eminent domain

Even if the project continues (as it will for the time being), landowners have rights during the eminent domain process that they should exercise. Eminent domain can be difficult to fight, but that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and simply do what the government asks you to do. In most cases, landowners can and should get more for their property than the government offers them.

A new plan for the high-speed rail project would place tracks from San Francisco Bay Area to the Central Valley, including a segment from San Jose to Bakersfield. If your property is at risk of being taken by the government, call an attorney to discuss your rights and your options.

Posted: 04/12/16 Joseph Dzida