By A.J. Hazarabedian

Property owner Fred Jast is fighting the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (“ACE”) regarding the amount of money they’re offering for the acquisition of his property.  Mr. Jast’s property is needed for an underpass project at Baldwin Avenue in the city of El Monte.

According to the article, El Monte man fights eminent domain claim,” from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Fred Jast believes his property is worth hundreds of thousands more than what the City has offered.  Jast had his property appraised at $745,000 and ACE is offering $550,000 which includes moving expenses.

Mr. Jast claims, “[ACE has] the right to take my property, but they don’t have the right to steal my property.”  The article indicates that Fred Jast’s property has declined in value as real estate prices, in general, have fallen significantly.

His property consists of 7,300 square feet and houses his home as well as a workshop he uses for his electrical contracting business.

Mr. Jast has not agreed to the offer and has yet to leave the property.  ACE’s real estate manager, Mark Mendoza, explained in the article that ACE, “went to court [last week] to get permission to forcibly remove Jast from the property, with the help of the sheriff.”

Once this hurdle is overcome, ACE will be one step closer to beginning construction as both project design and environmental reviews have been completed.


Commentary from A.J. Hazarabedian:

Mr. Jast’s issue is perhaps the most common issue in eminent domain: the property owner disagrees with the Agency’s appraisal.  Mr. Jast is correct that the Agency cannot steal his property.  If he disagrees with the Agency’s value, he is entitled under the California Constitution to have a jury decide the fair market value of his property.  Mr. Jast would also be entitled to relocation benefits, and possibly loss of business  goodwill, since he apparently was operating a business on the property.  With the right experienced eminent domain counsel, owners like Mr. Jast can ensure that they receive all items of compensation to which they are entitled by law, and can often obtain significantly greater compensation that that offered by the public agency.