California Supreme Court Gave Oakland Eminent Domain Right To Raiders With Proof Of Public Use
Raiders fans generally assume that the City of Oakland does not have the right to take the Oakland Raiders by Eminent Domain. But a read of the 1982 City of Oakland vs Oakland Raiders case at the California Supreme Court level says otherwise.
Raiders fans stop where the case history reads that the California Supreme Court dismissed the City of Oakland’ claim of (pure) Eminent Domain rights, and fail to read more. But the most important paragraph after that is down below in the read and says “From the foregoing we conclude only that the acquisition and, indeed, the operation of a sports franchise may be an appropriate municipal function. If such valid public use can be demonstrated, the statutes discussed herein afford City the power to acquire by eminent domain any property necessary to accomplish that use. [32 Cal. 3d 73]”
And goes on to read: Our conclusion requiring a trial on the merits is reinforced by the long recognized and fundamental importance of the “facts and circumstances” of each case in determining whether a proposed use is a proper public use. (Fallbrook Irrigation District v. Bradley, supra, 164 U.S. at pp. 159-160 [41 L.Ed. at pp. 338-339]; Linggi v. Garovotti (1955) 45 [32 Cal. 3d 76] Cal.2d 20, 24 [286 P.2d 15]; Lindsay I. Co. v. Mehrtens (1893) 97 Cal. 676, 680 [32 P. 802]; University of So. California v. Robbins, supra, 1 Cal.App.2d at pp. 527-528.) City and the Raiders should be afforded a full opportunity before a trial court to present the “facts and circumstances” of their respective sides during a trial on the merits. That opportunity was, of course, foreclosed by the trial court’s entry of summary judgment dismissing the action. We reverse and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”
The lower trial court rejected the City of Oakland’s claim of the public purpose being recreational, and supported the Raiders “free flow of commerce” argument – even though the judge did not call for an economic test of the claim. A mistake. But, and again, the California Supreme Court said the City of Oakland could take the Raiders by Eminent Domain, it just had to provide the right argument.
Today, with the City and County spending $90 million on outstanding bond debt on the Raiders Bonds and facing a giant economic loss both in television ad revenue and in other revenue streams, current or future, and the issue of lack of good faith dealing, that case should be re-introduced.