California Department of Transportation
District 6 Director Sharri Bender Ehlert
Get more information about the 'Move Over' law by clicking here...

1352 W. Olive Avenue
P.O. Box 12616
Fresno, CA 93778-2616


  • (559) 488-4082
  • (559) 444-2409
  • 711 - TTY

(559) 445-6259




Right of Way Division FAQs

All Caltrans right-of-way agents are professionally qualified in their specific specialties. The many tasks of the right-of-way division require a variety of agent specialties:

Appraisal Agents appraise the property to arrive at a fair market value.

Acquisition Agents make a first written offer based on the fair market value of the appraisal. If a business or a residence is being displaced, Relocation Agents find alternative dwellings and determine the amount of benefits the owner is due.

Property Management Agents take care of state-owned property, which might involve renting out and maintaining upkeep of the property.

Excess Land Agents market and auction off the property, once a property is declared excess.

Utilities Agents coordinate with gas, electric, telephone, sewer, and water companies to move their properties from the new right-of-way.

Demolition and Clearance Agents are in charge of clearing houses from the right-of-way and other improvements before construction begins.

Airspace Agents lease state-owned property within the right-of-way, such as parking sites, wireless sites, public parks, etc.

Local Public Agency Agents visit cities, counties and special districts to ensure that they are in compliance with right-of-way procedures.

Why does Caltrans need my property?

It is needed for the project. During the project planning and development phase, the project went through many design reviews and was presented to the public through a series of public hearings. Therefore, it was determined that your property was necessary to build the project long before the Right-of-Way agent meets with you the first time.

What is condemnation or eminent domain?

Condemnation is the legal proceeding by which the power of eminent domain is exercised.

Eminent domain is the inherent power of the government to acquire private property for public use. The owners of such private property shall not be deprived of their property without just compensation as provided in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I of the California Constitution.

What happens if I refuse to sell my property to Caltrans?

If you and Caltrans are unable to reach an agreement, Caltrans must go through the condemnation process. Caltrans must put its offer to purchase (again based on the appraisal) on deposit. You can request a first-level hearing with Caltrans management from the District level. If no resolution is reached, Caltrans headquarters in Sacramento conducts a second-level hearing. If still no agreement is reached, Caltrans then requests the California Transportation Commission to adopt a Resolution of Necessity (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1245.230). You will be given the opportunity to appear before the California Transportation Commission to discuss the project design and the necessity of the property purchase. No discussion of property value is allowed. At this point, Caltrans files the Resolution of Necessity, which includes a future possession date, and files a court date. At least one or more mandatory settlement conferences will be held with you. If still unresolved, the case goes before a judge and/or jury who will make the decision on property value.

Am I entitled to relocation benefits?

You may be entitled to Advisory Assistance, Moving Costs, and Replacement Housing Payments. Advisory Assistance is available to everyone who occupies the real property acquired by Caltrans. Moving Costs, reimbursement for actual, reasonable and necessary expenses, are available to everyone who must move their personal property from the real property acquired by Caltrans. Replacement Housing Payments are available for residential occupants based on type and length of occupancy at the time Caltrans initiates negotiations to acquire your property.

How are relocation benefits determined?

A housing study is performed to find a home that is at least “equal to or better than” your home and that is also “decent, safe and sanitary.” Your benefits are determined on the difference between the purchase price of your home and a comparable home described in the housing study. Additional benefits include moving expenses, interest rate differentials, property tax differentials, etc. There are also benefits for tenants (people who rent).

What are my costs associated with the sale of my property?

Caltrans will pick up escrow, title insurance, reconveyance fees, etc. Basically, the offer made on your property is the net you will receive.

When will I have to move?

Once the purchase agreement has been signed, escrow will probably take 45 to 60 days. Caltrans then allows for a 15-day grace period after close of escrow. At this point, you can either rent the property from Caltrans (if construction schedules allow) or you need to move.

What if I am renting?

As mentioned above, escrow can take up to two months. After escrow, Caltrans must give you a minimum of 90 additional days to leave the property and must inform you in writing. Under most circumstances, a tenant may have five months or so from the time the property goes into escrow.

What is a “hardship” acquisition?

Hardship is defined as a situation in which unusual personal circumstances of a property owner are aggravated by a proposed transportation project and cannot be solved by the property owner without an acquisition by the state. There are two types of hardship acquisitions:

  • Those that occur in advance of the regular right-of-way process.
  • Those that occur when the requirements for starting the regular right-of-way acquisition process have been met, but funding and activity on the project have been deferred.

How does Caltrans approve “hardship” acquisitions?

If a freeway agreement has not been signed, the District must provide prior written notice to the appropriate local governments of all hardship and protection acquisitions. Advance acquisitions made prior to completion of environmental and location processes are not to influence environmental assessment of the project.

Acquisition may be through donations, purchase, or other means. Each acquisition proposal is submitted for review and recommended action to the regional transportation planning agency in whose jurisdiction the land is located. Caltrans may approve the acquisition only after the regional transportation agency holds a hearing and finds that potential transportation facilities to be located on the land can be constructed in a manner that will avoid or mitigate specified environmental impacts or values.

Do I qualify for a “hardship” acquisition?

You may qualify for a hardship acquisition under one of these five conditions:

1. Medical: Advanced age, needing care or assistance from others. Major disabilities, where present facilities are inadequate or cannot by maintained by the owner. Doctor's recommendation for a change in climate or physical environment.
2. Financial: Litigation such as a probate. Loss of employment. Retirement and cannot afford to maintain. Pending foreclosure or tax sale.
3. Change of Work: Your job changes location, making commuting not feasible.
4. Non-decent, safe and sanitary housing: Overcrowded or in a state of disrepair.
5. Monetary loss on income or vacant properties: The owner must demonstrate an adverse impact of the project on the profitability of a business or a property, including the inability to obtain financing, the inherent risk of ownership, and the impact of local governmental regulations affecting development.

For more information, see