Senate Bill (SB) 177 (Peace) was approved by Governor Gray Davis on October 9, 1999 and became effective January 1, 2000. The bill adds Pub. Util. Code section 625 and requires certain public utilities that wish to condemn property for the purpose of offering competitive services to first file a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission asking the Commission to find that the proposed condemnation would be in the public interest.
The Commission is then required to conduct a hearing on the proposed condemnation of property by the public utility.
If, after conducting the hearing, the Commission finds that the proposed condemnation would serve the public interest, the public utility may then file an eminent domain action in Superior Court to condemn the property. However, if the Commission finds that the proposed condemnation would not serve the public interest, the public utility may not file a Superior Court action to condemn the property, unless an appellate court overturns the Commission's decision.
If the Commission finds in favor of the public utility, and the public utility wins an eminent domain action in Superior Court, the court will generally require the public utility to pay the property owner the fair market value of the property condemned. However, the Commission's decision on the complaint will address only whether the proposed condemnation would be in the public interest, and not the value of the property.
A complete manual, sample complaint and proof of service are available. The Public Advisor can help with questions about these procedures.