RTA Update 2017

In Southern Arizona, The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is a major source of condemnation cases - cases in which government entities use the power of eminent domain to take private property needed for public-works projects. The RTA plan is a 20-year plan, approved by voters in 2006, that mandates improvements to many roadways in Tucson. 

The RTA had its 10-year anniversary last year, in 2016, marking the halfway point of the RTA plan. What can citizens expect from the next ten years? This map shows which projects remain to be completed:

As you can see, Broadway Boulevard, Silverbell Road, Valencia Road, 22nd Street, Grant Road, 1st Avenue, and Tangerine Road are still slated for major improvements. 

Many property owners who have asked me to represent them when their property has been taken through eminent domain express surprise at how quickly the process moves once the government decides their property is needed for a project. Property owners along these roadways should be prepared for the major disruption that can occur during an eminent domain taking. Having an experienced eminent domain lawyer can help to answer many of the questions that are sure to arise during the process.

Sammartino Law Group Receives Clients' Choice Award for 2015

Avvo, an online legal services marketplace, has awarded Sammartino Law Group its 2015 Clients' Choice Award for my 2015 service to Real Estate and Land Use and Zoning clients. 

I am extremely grateful to have been able to meet the real estate legal needs of southern Arizona property owners, primarily through my focus on condemnation and eminent domain law. This year, I have helped clients who have had or will have their private property taken for the Grant Road Improvement Project,  the Downtown Links Project, the Los Reales Buffer Project, the Houghton Road: Broadway Blvd. to 22nd St. Project, and the Tangerine Road Corridor Project. In 2016, I hope to add the Broadway Boulevard Project to that list, among other projects.

It is important to me that this recognition from Avvo comes because of what I have done for my clients. I give thanks to those who hired or considered hiring me to help them, and I wish all past, present, and future clients good luck and good health in the new year. 

Third-Quarter 2015 Updates: State of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)

As many Tucsonans are aware, the Tucson voters passed the $2.1B Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan in May of 2006. Since then, the RTA has been working on delivering 35 roadway  corridor projects that impact Tucson and Pima County property owners. Of these 35 projects, most of them require the implementing agency to acquire private property through eminent domain. 

Here is a list of the 35 roadway corridor projects:

Source: Our Mobility, May 2015 http://www.rtamobility.com/documents/OurMobilityMay2015.pdf

Source: Our Mobility, May 2015 http://www.rtamobility.com/documents/OurMobilityMay2015.pdf

No matter how you quantify it, this is a large public works project, or series of projects. The RTA website does not supply easy-to-understand project status information, so I have distilled the information the site does provide to provide the same list of projects along with each project's (somewhat) current status:

Status of RTA Projects 2015.png

The RTA has completed 9 projects, is currently constructing 6, is designing 11, and is waiting to begin 9 future projects. The 20 projects in-design or for the future (and even some of the projects under construction, like Grant Road) will likely require more condemnation of private property, and those property owners may want to consult an eminent domain attorney to advise them of their rights. 


Grant Road Widening Construction Sequence and Project Segments Map

The Regional Transportation Authority's website for the Grant Road Improvement Plan - www.grantroad.info - contains a wealth of information on the project but is not well organized. It is difficult to find the official map of the construction sequencing, so I have reproduced it here:

Grant Road Improvement Project Construction Sequence - The project is currently in Segment Two

The City is moving into Project Segment Two, which runs from North Castro Avenue to North Fremont Avenue. Acquisitions will begin soon, and the RTA will likely provide property owners with offers to sell properties along the project for less than their true market value. An experienced eminent domain lawyer can help property owners get the proper value for their condemned property along Grant Road. 

Grant Road Property Residential Property Owners in Tucson Experiencing Effects of Condemnation Blight

I was saddened to read this story about two Grant Road homeowners, Javier and Rebecca Garcia, in the Tucson Weekly. Often, property owners in the path of future public works projects - like the Grant Road widening - experience condemnation blight.

  Will the sale of this property be used as comparable data to derive the fair market value of currently-operating businesses on Grant Road?

 Will the sale of this property be used as comparable data to derive the fair market value of currently-operating businesses on Grant Road?

Condemnation blight is the  phenomenon of property devaluation that occurs prior to the official taking of property because buyers in the real estate market are unwilling to pay fair market value for properties that will be taken for a public purpose 10 or 15 years in the future. When properties eventually are officially condemned, sometimes government agencies are tempted to use blighted sales - sales of property in the path of the project that are below market value because of the impending project. 

Broadway Boulevard owners can surely relate to the Garcias: the current Broadway Boulevard widening plan has been in place since 1986. One can see the effects of blight on Broadway on the north side of the street between Euclid and Campbell Avenue.

Residential property owners and commercial property owners both face difficult decisions when the greedy appetites of government planners cast a pall on properties far in advance of the actual acquisition date. Acquisition of the Garcia's property is "years in the future," according to the Weekly - maybe not until 2017 or beyond. Hopefully those affected by blight will have an advocate who understands blight and can use the legal tools available to obtain just compensation for Grant Road and Broadway Boulevard properties.