Oregon and California Rails to Trails Land Dispute Attorneys

Kershaw Talley Barlow Is Helping West Coast Landowners Get Their Fair Share from Eminent Domain Claims

Kershaw Talley Barlow is currently pursuing a case on behalf of hundreds of landowners who own property along a railroad line in the process of being converted into a bike path. Known as the Great Redwood Trail, the route will extend from Marin, CA to Eureka OR. Along the way, it crosses through the holdings of multiple landowners. Yet, none of the local agencies involved in the transition have plans to fairly compensate these individuals for the taking of their land.

Our suit directly addresses this oversight. We are fighting to obtain fair compensation for landowners whose property will be used for the trail. If you own land along its route, we invite you to reach out today. Our lawyers are offering consultations absolutely free of charge to help property owners understand their rights.

Call us today at (916) 520-6639 to learn whether you may be owed compensation for your land. We are serving clients in California and Oregon.

Why the Rails to Trails Program Owes Landowners

Though the railroad tracks along this route have been around since the late 1800s, the government does not actually own the land underneath. It was granted the right to build on it via easements—contractual agreements that allow one party to use land while another retains ownership. Basically, property owners all along the route agreed to allow the government to build a railroad on their land. Now, the railroad is being removed.

Under California law, an easement granted for a specific purpose is extinguished if the use for the easement changes. In our lawsuit, now pending in Federal Court, the plaintiffs allege by converting the railroad to a bike trail, the government extinguished the agreement by changing its purpose. As a result, its construction of the bike path constitutes a “taking” under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution.

Although the government is allowed to take land from private property owners under its eminent domain power, it is required to pay the fair market value for any land it takes. We are arguing the government must officially acquire the land to be used for the trail and compensate the original owners accordingly.

Compensation Under Eminent Domain Law

While the government must offer just compensation to landowners whose property is seized via eminent domain, calculating a fair payment can be complicated. Especially when the government decides to take only a small portion of a property, paying only for the expropriation would mean giving landowners a small percentage of their land’s total worth. However, there are other considerations that must be made to determine how much a landowner loses in an eminent domain claim.

In the case of the Rails to Trails program, landowners should be compensated for a loss of property value, as having a public bike path running through your land will likely decrease its worth. Those with property along the bike path may also need to build fencing or barricades to keep the public off their land.

What to Know Before Joining This Litigation

If you think you may be eligible to join our lawsuit, we invite you to reach out to our team for a free consultation. However, we understand if you are unsure as to whether you want to get involved in litigation at this time. To that end, here are some basic facts about what you can and should expect from the case:

  • The lawsuit cannot stop the construction of the bike path. The only remedy is just compensation for the value of the property being taken by the government.
  • Landowners are not required to pay any attorney’s fees unless and until the case is successful. The attorneys handling these cases do so on a contingency basis and are only compensated if there is a recovery for the client.
  • There is usually very little effort required of plaintiffs to participate in this type of litigation. The only issue we are arguing is the value of the property being taken by the government. Rarely, if ever, do plaintiffs have to appear in court or sit for a deposition.

Kershaw Talley Barlow is based in Northern California, with offices in Sacramento and Chico. It has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for its clients and specializes in large, complex cases. You can learn more about us online or reach out to one of our lawyers with your questions.

Kershaw Talley Barlow is available at (916) 520-6639 to answer your questions about eminent domain and the Great Redwood Trail. We want to help landowners affected by the Rails to Trails program receive fair compensation for their property.


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