Skip to Content
Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP
CALL TODAY! 888-998-2031

Do Local and State Governments Have Eminent Domain Powers?


The federal government has the power to acquire property under the legal principle of eminent domain. This power was established in a section of the United States Constitution known as the “takings clause,” which states, “... nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Although eminent domain is primarily associated with this section of the Constitution and the power of the federal government, eminent domain is a power of local and state governments as well. Some private entities can also be granted eminent domain powers, including power companies, railroads, school districts, and hospitals.

In general, the eminent domain powers of local and state governments will mirror those of the federal government. As stated in the Constitution, property must be acquired for public use and the property owner must be justly compensated. These are the basic principles of eminent domain in all cases.

Eminent Domain Powers of California and San Diego Local Governments

As government entities, both the state of California and the local government of San Diego and other municipalities hold eminent domain powers. Acquisitions by local governments will differ from those by the federal government in that the taking of a property will serve a purpose that benefits the local community rather than a national interest. For example, the federal government may take a property to build a section of the interstate, while a local eminent domain case may involve the building of a new park.

Like the federal government, a state or local government will need to ensure that a property is taken for a public use reason and that the owner of the property is fairly compensated. Regardless of whether your eminent domain case involves a federal, state, or local government, it is essential to keep these rights in mind.

The legal team of Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP represents people involved in eminent domain cases and other real estate law matters. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case.

To schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, complete our contact form or call 888.998.2031.