Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency v. Dhaliwal

California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento

April 21, 2015

BRINDERJIT S. DHALIWAL, as Co-executor, etc., et al., Defendants and Appellants.

[As modified May 20, 2015.]

Super. Ct. No. 34 2010 0070156.

Page 1316

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1317

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1318

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1319

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1320


Jenny & Jenny and Scott E. Jenny for Defendants and Appellants.

Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, Andrew W. Schwartz, Catherine C. Engberg and Erica A. Maharg for Plaintiff and Respondent.


BLEASE, Acting P. J.

In this eminent domain proceeding, plaintiff Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) acquired a fee simple interest in, a roadway easement over, and a temporary construction easement over a portion of defendant Ranjit S. Dhaliwal’s roughly 131-acre property in the Natomas Basin for use in connection with the Natomas Levee Improvement Program. The jury awarded Dhaliwal $178, 703 for the property taken and $29, 100 in severance damages. Brinderjit S. Dhaliwal and Gurdeep S. Dhaliwal, as co-executors of Dhaliwal’s estate, appeal.[1]

Dhaliwal does not contest SAFCA’s right to take the property. Rather, his challenge is limited to the compensation award. His principal contention on appeal is that the trial court prejudicially erred in allowing SAFCA to introduce evidence concerning “future access” to the property. He claims that such evidence is speculative because “[a]fter this case is concluded, the County and SAFCA would be able to deny Dhaliwal access to the property, ” leaving him landlocked. We shall conclude that the trial court did not err in admitting the challenged evidence because such evidence had the potential to affect the property’s market value, and was not conjectural, speculative, or remote (Metropolitan Water Dist. of So. California v. Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. (2007) 41 Cal.4th 954, 972-973 [62 Cal.Rptr.3d 623, 161 P.3d 1175] (Campus Crusade)) and did not contradict the scope of the taking as defined by the resolution of necessity (County of San Diego v. Bressi (1986) 184 Cal.App.3d 112, 123 [229 Cal.Rptr. 44] (Bressi); Coachella Valley Water Dist. v. Western Allied Properties, Inc. (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 969, 978-979 [235 Cal.Rptr. 725] (Coachella)).

Dhaliwal also contends that the trial court erred in allowing SAFCA’s appraiser to critique his appraiser’s valuation of the property, and that

Page 1321

SAFCA’s counsel committed misconduct during closing argument by commenting on Dhaliwal’s absence and referring to SAFCA’s inability to pay more than fair market value for the property. We shall conclude that neither contention has merit, and thus, affirm the judgment.


A. The Natomas Levee Improvement Program

The Natomas Basin is a large flood plain bordered by the American and Sacramento Rivers and includes portions of the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport. Because the existing levees are not adequate to protect the basin from a severe flood, SAFCA is repairing approximately 35 of the existing 42 miles of levees to provide the basin with at least a 100-year level of flood protection. This project is known as the Natomas Levee Improvement Program.

At all relevant times herein, there has been a de facto building moratorium in the basin. The first floor of any new building in the basin must be built above the base flood elevation, which generally speaking is not economically feasible. The de facto moratorium can be lifted once the project is complete and SAFCA is able to certify that the levee provides 100-year flood protection.

On December 10, 2009, SAFCA’s board of directors adopted a resolution of necessity declaring that the public interest and necessity required the project. SAFCA also determined that it was necessary for it to acquire a fee simple interest in approximately 10.94 acres, a roadway easement over approximately 0.499 acres, and a temporary construction easement over approximately 8.796 acres, including all riparian and water rights appurtenant to the fee acquisition portion, for the “construction, operation, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of improvements for present and future flood control, infrastructure relocations, habitat mitigation and other purposes in connection with the Project.”

B. The Property Before SAFCA’s Acquisition

Prior to SAFCA’s acquisition, the property consisted of two legal lots totaling just over 131-acres. It was (and is) zoned “AG-80, ” meaning it is approved for all agricultural uses and requires a minimum parcel size of 80 acres. It is located in the basin, on the land-side of the levee directly east of Garden Highway, north of Interstate 5, and west of the Sacramento International Airport. It was (and is) used for farming. There were three buildings on the property, a vacant single-family house, a small storage shed, and a barn.

Page 1322

The house was 80 years old, had not been occupied since 2008, and was in fair to poor condition. The shed and barn were also in disrepair. There was a driveway leading to the house off Garden Highway.

In addition to Garden Highway, the property was accessible from North Bayou Road, a public road that runs along the south side of the property, and Schoolhouse Road, a private dirt road that runs along the east and southeast border of the property.

C. SAFCA’s Acquisition

SAFCA acquired three interests in the subject property: (1) a fee simple interest in an approximately 10.94-acre strip of land along Garden Highway, which included the house and other buildings; (2) an approximately 0.499-acre roadway easement along the southern border of the property; and (3) an approximately 8.796-acre temporary construction easement with a term of three years. Following SAFCA’s acquisition, the property no longer is accessible via Garden Highway, but it continues to be accessible via North Bayou and Schoolhouse Roads.

D. Dhaliwal’s Appraisal

1. Fair Market Value

At trial, Dhaliwal presented the testimony of appraiser Arthur Gimmy to establish the fair market value of the property, along with severance damages and benefits, if any. Gimmy found that the highest and best use of the property prior to SAFCA’s acquisition was as rural residential property-- a combination of agricultural and residential living. Using February 22, 2010, as the date of value, he determined that the fair market value for the subject property before SAFCA’s acquisition was $2.3 million or $17,500 per acre. In making his determination, he used comparable sales, including two in the basin, namely: (1) a 275-plus acre property directly east of the subject property that sold in 2004 for $10,665 per acre; and (2) a 96.83 acre property along Garden Highway that sold in 2005 for $10, 699 per acre. He then adjusted those figures for time and other factors. He opined that since 2004 and 2005 on the one hand, and 2010 (the date of valuation) on the other, prices for this type of property, which has the potential to be used as mitigation land for future development, increased 40 to 50 percent. In reaching this conclusion, Gimmy relied on “trends in prices, ” but not on any one specific sale. He explained that this type of property was exempt from the recent downturn in real estate prices due to its potential for use as mitigation land for future development in the basin.

After determining the value of the whole, Gimmy allocated the appraised value between what he deemed “the key components of the property"—a

Page 1323

three-acre homestead and 128 acres of agricultural land. Using comparable sales of small parcels comprised of five acres or less, he valued the three-acre homestead at $375, 000 ($215, 000 for the land and $160, 000 for the improvements). During cross-examination, he acknowledged that smaller properties sell for much more per acre than larger properties and that the fictitious three-acre homestead could not legally be bought and sold since the property, as zoned, could not ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.