Real Estate Services (Acquisitions)
How is the need for property acquisition determined?
As Metro continues to expand our transit system, we often find the need to buy or lease land from property owners for new transportation projects. Property acquisition can be may be required for a variety of reasons. The most common are listed below.
Permanent Property Needs
Highway, rail, bus and other projects generally require more property to expand capacity and increase service to the public. This may be for new or wider travel lanes, rail or bus rights-of-way, interchanges, ramps, bridges, stations or maintenance yards. In this situation, the property acquired becomes a permanent part of the project and the region’s transportation infrastructure.
- Subsurface (below ground) easements: Some projects need below ground easements for subway tunnels, subway stations, utility lines and various other purposes.
- Temporary construction staging: When building a project, property is sometimes needed for a period to house construction equipment and materials. These staging areas are for active construction, equipment and material storage, field offices, parking, and other construction-related activities. Staging areas are usually located off-street and immediately next to where the project is being built.
Who and what determines property acquisition?
The decision whether to acquire property for a project is decided during the environmental planning process. This occurs in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and often results in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Some projects also need federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which can result in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
During this process, various project alternatives are evaluated, and property is identified that might be needed for a project. The final list of properties is not finalized until the very end of the process when the study being conducted is adopted by the Metro Board. Public feedback and input is always an important part of these studies.
Will Metro buy or lease my property?
This is often one of the first questions we are asked by property owners. The answer depends on the specific property rights that will be required for the project.
Types of property rights required
Property rights required for Metro can vary from a full acquisition of the “fee simple interest” in an entire property to a partial acquisition of a portion of the property that is required for the project. Types of partial acquisitions include partial “fee” acquisitions and various types of permanent and temporary easements. When will I be informed that my property is needed for a project?
How will I be compensated?
Metro is required to provide just compensation to property owners for the purchase or use of their property. The compensation process consists of several steps, with responsibilities for both Metro and the property owner.
Step 1: Appraisal
The first step in this process is for Metro to obtain an appraisal of the property to determine the fair market value of the property interest(s) required for the project. The appraisal will consider the various factors that influence value including the property rights to be acquired, market conditions, location, the physical and economic characteristics of the property and its highest and best use.
Step 2: Offer made by Metro
Once the property’s fair market value is established, an offer of just compensation will be made to the property owner. Time will be allowed for the owner to obtain their own appraisal if desired, and to have a full discussion with Metro regarding their opinion of the property’s value.
Step 3: Final negotiation and purchase
Metro will seek a negotiated agreement with a property owner whenever possible. If a negotiated agreement cannot be reached, Metro may exercise its power of eminent domain to acquire the property. Initiating eminent domain procedures requires specific approval by Metro’s Board of Directors.
Will I receive relocation benefits if I am required to move from the property?
If you are an owner-occupant or tenant occupying a property that is acquired for a public project, you may be eligible for relocation benefits. Federal and state regulations provide for payments to help relocate businesses and households displaced by the acquisition. Your relocation benefits will be explained in detail by Metro staff, or a consultant hired by Metro. Please note that no one is required to relocate from their property until they have been given at least a 90-day written notice to move.
How can I stay involved or provide feedback?
We invite you to stay involved during the planning and construction of Metro transit projects. You can keep up with developments at our Projects section, where you can find information about ongoing studies and projects under construction. At various project web pages, you can also leave comments and provide your contact information so that we can keep you informed of upcoming meetings and other important news.
Please send general questions or requests for more information to: [email protected].