Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is a powerful tool that allows various types of public entities, as well as a few specialized private corporations, to acquire private property for public purposes and projects.  In recent years, the exercise of eminent domain powers has been more common, given the scarcity of available property for projects ranging from new schools to roadway improvements to utility upgrades.

Pacifica lawyers represent a wide range of clients with respect to all aspects of property acquisition, including the exercise of eminent domain.  We frequently assist with complex valuations and relocations, and are experienced in working effectively and efficiently with client teams that may also include appraisers, agents, and environmental consultants.

We assist clients in all aspects of the exercise of eminent domain, including by counseling clients on all steps necessary to initiate an eminent domain lawsuit. We have extensive experience defending clients against claims alleging a lack of authority to acquire property through eminent domain, including challenges to the public use for the acquisition, before trial courts and on appeal.  We emphasize acquiring property voluntarily when possible but, if necessary, we have successfully acquired property at trial and on appeal.

Representative Experience

  • We represent the City of Bellevue in the acquisition of several high-value parcels and other property interests needed for the East Link light rail project and related City transportation projects.  This representation has included a bench trial resulting in a valuation judgment in the City’s appraised amount as well as the successful defense of an appeal on a separate parcel regarding the determination of public use and necessity (City of Bellevue v. Pine Forest Properties, Inc., 185 Wn. App. 244, 340 P.3d 938 (2014)).
  • For more than a decade, we have represented an interstate natural gas pipeline company in negotiating and litigating, in state and federal court, land acquisitions in Washington and Oregon.
  • We represent multiple school districts in connection with acquiring properties needed for construction of new schools and administration facilities.
  • We represented Snohomish County in the acquisition of multiple parcels in downtown Everett needed to construct a new County courthouse.
  • We represented a port district seeking to acquire a waterfront parcel with historic contamination issues.  The engagement included complex issues pertaining to highest and best use of the property.  The contamination levels and feasibility of development were central issues in the property valuation.
  • We advise multiple clients, including cities, counties, and an area museum, on issues relating to relocation requirements and have defended the City of Bellevue in the appeal of a relocation benefits determination.

Practice Attorneys

Claire McNamara

Claire McNamara

ASSOCIATE
Kai Smith

Kai Smith

ASSOCIATE
Sarah S. Washburn

Sarah S. Washburn

OF COUNSEL
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