While the battle continues, some local residents have been receiving appraisals on their properties from the California High Speed Rail Authority. And the Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) are answering with additional eminent domain workshops, visits to authority board meetings and lawsuits.
CCHSRA recently held one workshop, and it’s busy working on a second, with the date to be announced. Their effort comes as people in Corcoran along the high speed rail corridor are receiving written appraisals for their properties.
The high speed rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield cuts through a slice of property just east of Corcoran. The alignment takes out several homes along 5th and 51/2 avenues, along with farmland both north and south of the community. Many of those residents have been personally contacted by appraisers; some have received their official appraisals, while their next door neighbors have not.
None of the residents contacted by The Journal have been excited about the amounts they have been offered for their properties.
“I would characterize it as being offered an amount you might be offered for bare property,” said one resident. “It certainly didn’t take into account any improvements.”
Nor, he said, did the possible payment amount come close to replacing the memories that have gone into over 30 years of inhabiting the family property.
If the family ends up accepting the offer, they may pull up stakes and move to Texas, he added.
Another family noted that they could not replace what they might be losing, for the amount offered for their property by high speed rail.
“It’s more than I paid for it, but not enough, in today’s market, to replace it,” she said.
However, that property owner said she had also been contacted by another authority representative who spoke to her about relocation costs, which, once added to the appraisal figure, might come closer to helping her find a new property.
For those who cannot come to terms with the authority, CCHSRA is preparing Kings County residents for the next step: eminent domain. The authority can move in and take the properties along the alignment by offering what it considers “fair market value” to those owners who refuse to sell.
Aaron Fukuda of the CCHSRA said another eminent domain workshop is currently being planned. Several Kings County residents were present at the meeting held Jan. 29, he noted.
“We are continuing out battle against the authority,” he said, “and we need the help of all our residents.”
The next rail authority meeting is to be held March 10 in Sacramento and CCHSRA is attempting to fill a bus with landowners to take to the session. Fukuda reported that at the January authority meeting, representatives from the authority said the appraisal and acquisition process in Kings County was going smoothly.
“They know this is not true. We told authority staff and board of the ‘flash appraisals’ whereby landowners are not being included in the appraisal process, and other underhanded tactics. Again, at the February meeting we reported problems with the process and the authority chairman said he was tired of our complaining.” Said Fukuda.
In fact, he added public relations reps for the authority have characterized the appeals as “an attempt to gain media attention” by a group that has filed several alwsuits against the authority.
Fukuda said he would like to fill the bus with residents—and landowners—who can make their own complaints known to the authority. Anyone who would like to be on the bus can email cchsraorg@gmail or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the lawsuit front, CCHSRA is challenging the authority’s ability to skip the CEQA process while moving forward with its high speed rail alignment plans.