Surveying in Marin County

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hellsangle
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Surveying in Marin County

Postby hellsangle » Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:05 am

At our Chapter's Zoom meeting it was noted that some surveyors outside Marin are unaware of where the boundary bones are buried.

If you are unfamiliar with surveying boundaries in Marin County here are some important links:

1). Our Secretary, Webmaster, Josh Woelbing's Chapter website: http://marinclsa.com/
Loads of good information. Don't forget Record Maps Index subscription! Not all recorded maps are indexed on the Assessor's Maps!

2). Marin County Surveyor's link: https://www.marincounty.org/depts/pw/di ... /surveying
Tracy Park has posted excellent information here.

3). http://contentdm.marinlibrary.org/digit ... on/Surveys
Many of the old maps have been scanned and are available on-line. PLEASE MAKE DONATIONS IF YOU EMPLOY THESE RECORDS!
The library is spending a fortune scanning, indexing, etc this ancient collection of surveys. 25,000+ surveys/notes/etc. reside in this Library!
Note: due to the Covid-19 situation the Library is very taxed and have a very small time to research! DO NOT REQUEST RESEARCH FOR
ESTIMATES!!! THE LIBRARY STAFF'S TIME IS VERY PRECIOUS.

4). Just for fun: https://annetkent.kontribune.com/articles/9883

5). Historian Dewey Livingston's episodes of "Reading the Maps" (he's up to episode Five): https://annetkent.kontribune.com/articles/9777
Some of these articles contain links to old historical photographs related to the episode and may help determine if stakes still exist.

6) Although clients may want it and want it now . . . if the research is not performed and the boundary is challenged - you may wish you spent the time and money to best represent a court defensible boundary.

Attached are some histories on how the Marin County Library obtained the records of Saint Bill Schroeder who made them public!
Also some other histories. (I believe Mt. Diablo Historical Society may have some of this information.)

Also if you contact our chapter . . . we can share other unrecorded map archives and who has those records. Generally an hourly fee & copy fee is charged for the time it takes to research these private archives. (Generally between approximately $150 to $1,500 depending how deep your research request becomes.)

And almost always when determining a boundary in Marin, it more often than not, trigger a Record of Survey. For those of you that don't file a Record of Survey, (when you should have!) . . . you'd better sleep with one eye open. LOL

If anyone has questions, do not hesitate to email me or our chapter's secretary, Josh.

Crazy Phil - Surveyor to Recorder
geometre@vom.com
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JoshPLS
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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby JoshPLS » Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:53 pm

Thanks for posting this Phil!

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hellsangle
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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby hellsangle » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:45 pm

Just for fun story . . . Map Room Report.

Have a good week all . . . wash those hands, wear that mask . . . and put the seat down.

Crazy Phil - Surveyor to Recorder
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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Peter Ehlert » Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:34 pm

Glad to see you writing again Phil
Peter Ehlert

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby PLS7393 » Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:18 am

Good info hear Phil, but I always thought the boundary bones of Marin County were buried in your backyard, lol.

Surveyor to Recorder baby!!! I'll keep the craziness alive here in the East Bay, following the footsteps!
Keith Nofield, Professional Land Surveying
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hellsangle
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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby hellsangle » Wed Jul 29, 2020 12:35 pm

Ha! Thanks for your kind words, Keith!

At least I know there is one other "crazy" out there.

Crazy Phil - Surveyor to Recorder (I'll never give up for that wish)

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby DWoolley » Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:46 pm

hellsangle wrote:Ha! Thanks for your kind words, Keith!

At least I know there is one other "crazy" out there.

Crazy Phil - Surveyor to Recorder (I'll never give up for that wish)


You are not alone fellas. The CLSA Board of Directors voted on moving the "surveyor to recorder" proposal forward this past Saturday and garnered 8% in favor of the idea. Equally, but opposite, the Directors voted to move forward the record of survey checking fee cap of $500 with an additional cost per page.

The meeting was extraordinary in the discussions, open debate and ideas that were in the technical weeds. The participation and ideas were exceptional.

DWoolley

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Jim Frame » Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:15 pm

garnered 8% in favor of the idea


8%? How many directors are there? (Interestingly, that information doesn't appear to be available via the CLSA website, nor are meeting minutes.)
Jim Frame
Frame Surveying & Mapping
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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby DWoolley » Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:44 pm

Jim Frame:

I believe the meeting minutes will not be released until approved at the next meeting.

For the online meetings the polls remain open for a minute or two and the moderator will report the percentage of attendees that have voted and the results of the vote before they close the poll. For example, it would be reported to those on the call "...85% of the votes have been cast with 92% voting in favor of the motion". The votes cast will not be 100% because there are folks on the panel and/or guest that count as an attendee, but do not have voting capabilities.

I didn't see the number of Directors on the call or know how many are on the Board, but I believe there were about 45, a full house, in attendance. Eight percent would be 3-4 people in favor on that particular motion. Before the vote, during the discussion, there was a lot of support for the County Surveyor review, but several folks commented that the review process should be uniform from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

DWoolley

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Sunburned_Surveyor » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:39 pm

Thanks for posting this list of resources. That is great information. I don't work in Marin County, but I will save this information in case I ever do.

I recently had a conversation with a land surveyor working on a boundary survey in Marin County. He got a bit of a run around about needing an unfiled map. After he paid for it, he found it was of little use in his boundary resolution. (He wasn't allowed to look at the map before he paid for a copy.) I tried to explain to him that I strongly questioned the value of an unfiled retracement survey, especially one completed when our recording laws were in place. I asked the other surveyor these questions:

- What are the controlling calls in your vesting deed?
- What are the original monuments?

If a surveyor is preparing a retracement survey and then not filing that map as the law requires, I would argue his/her monuments are of little value. Is the unfiled map signed and sealed? Was it really prepared by the land surveyor? Does he explain on the map how the boundary was resolved and monuments were set? Are his monuments identified with his LS number? How do I know those monuments weren't set by a land owner or a party chief doing an unlicensed survey on a Saturday? An unsigned napkin sketch by a land surveyor who isn't following the law isn't a very reliable source of information. We have laws requiring identification of monuments, signing of maps, and filing of maps in a public repository for good reasons.

In rare cases, where monuments of questionable authority had been relied upon by ALL of the land-owners sharing the monumented line, an unfiled map might offer some value. However, I suspect any neighbors who disagreed with the location of the monuments would have a good legal argument that they can't be relied on.

In short: I worry that unfiled maps may be an attempt by some land surveyors to keep non-locals from surveying in their backyard. My argument in response is that retracement monuments from an unfiled map probably aren't controlling, unless rare circumstances arise.

If the unfiled survey actually created the parcels in questions and set original monuments, the situation is different. But in that case, hopefully another surveyor has put something about the origin of the monuments in the record.

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Sunburned_Surveyor » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:48 pm

I just want to add that I could be completely wrong in my opinion. I'd love to hear thoughts from other boundary surveyors here about the level of control retracement monuments from an unfiled survey have in a boundary resolution. I'm sure I will learn from the discussion.

Thanks!

Landon

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Warren Smith » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:39 pm

Landon, haven't you used Chas Widdows' unfiled maps?
The difference being that they are filed in the County Surveyor's office.
If the monuments fit reasonably, I'm not sure a disagreeable landowner would have standing to argue that measurements trump a piece of iron that's been in the ground for 50 years.
Warren D. Smith, LS 4842
County Surveyor
Tuolumne County

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby David Kendall » Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:24 am

I consider every detail I find as evidence unless I have a good reason not to. A no record monument is just as good as a record monument if it is in the right spot and has been accepted and used by the landowners. Holding a found monument is almost always a legally defensible position. As is holding improvements apparently built in reliance on an original or historic monument that is no longer present. Rejecting historic occupation or monuments outright should be accompanied by a statement of reasoning on the face of the plat. Pulling a pipe out of the ground does not erase history.

It seems to me there was a culture in CA for many years of setting monuments at record locations without filing. The invention of the corner record changed all that but I have never seen a corner record prior to around 1975. Before that you have monuments of unknown pedigree placed at record locations by a surveyor at the request of a landowner.

In Marin there was apparently a culture of not filing anything on most simple surveys (read no material discrepancy with the record). This means that fenceline staking and home construction layout from the 1920s through 1970s was performed by surveyors staking where usually nothing was filed. Guess when most of the homes were built in Marin....

The prevalence of narrow windy streets going up the mountains and valleys makes it especially risky to survey here without proper research as an incorrectly applied tangent on a curve (for example) can wreak havoc on the deed corner 50' distant. The minimally improved roads will not provide any answers. Then you wonder why the deed line is going through the 80 year old house?

I do not consider the categorical rejection of no record monuments (apparently out of spite?) to be prudent practice. Also I have been greatly rewarded almost every time I have ventured into research of private records and field notes for answers to a tricky or confusing boundary. I do agree that restricted access to private records can be problematic. I don't know that surveyors use private records to gain a competitive advantage but I have heard this claim. The guys I have spoken with who maintain the private records usually disagree with this statement (not just in Marin) and they say that requests for access to their private records are extremely rare. Just because I do not understand the pedigree of a monument does not make it worthless.

The solution is for all of these private records to be somehow made public. The county governments do not want the liability of maintaining the collections. I think that the County Surveyors know it is a good idea to catalog unfiled surveys but the costs add up quick and then they get the stink eye from the BOS. County of Marin has done an exemplary job of attempting to remedy this problem (I believe mostly through private donations) but the magnitude of the private records is overwhelming and the damage to the public from their secrecy is great.

Diligent research is part of the job of a land surveyor. In Marin County it is particularly onerous. I'm sure there are other places where this is true as well

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Scott » Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:19 am

I believe unfiled records should be shared generously and unconditionally, especially if it is used as a reference on a RoS.

I know I will take heat for this on this forum from owners of old records, but I hold this opinion with irons in the fire.

I have more than one old defunct company's records at my office acquired over the 60+ years my company has been in business, some at a price. I research and refer to the records all the time. I do not charge for requests and so far, always search the records myself when requested, because I know how and where everything is filed. Granted I get very few requests.

I have managed to get almost all of one of the old defunct company's records scanned and posted online on the County's record map gis site and also on the Central Valley Chapter's web site, but that is less than a quarter of the old records I have.

I believe that anything unfiled that is referenced on a RoS should be saved/indexed/filed by the Surveyor of Record and be made available to any future retracing Surveyor at no cost. Isn't one of the purposes of a Survey to help future Surveyors trace the footsteps?
It would also be nice if the County Surveyor saved/indexed/filed anything unfiled that is referenced on a RoS that has been submitted.

Maybe CLSA could make an effort to start collecting (or purchasing, if necessary) all unfiled records and put them online. I would be happy to donate the records I have. I would also donate time to get them transferred.
Scott DeLaMare
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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby mpallamary » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:04 am

Great idea. San Diego County will not accept survey records. We used to be able to file them but no more.

I have a couple of survey business records. I do not have an office. They are stored offsite and it takes me about an hour to retrieve records and I pay $800 a month to store them. I always make them available but must charge for my research time (to feed me and my family) and storage. Do you believe I am entitled to be paid for my time and the cost to store the records?

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby hellsangle » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:07 am

Good questions. Good debate. Possibly a few misconceptions . . .

This is gonna be as epic as Evan Page’s posts - only not as well written.

Let’s start with some history of why these ol’ geezers didn’t record their maps?

California Surveyor Issue #10, October 1969:

“RECENT BOARD ACTIONS

At its meeting held in Sacramento on July 11, 1969 the Board of Registration for Professional Engineers approved the following recommendation for interpretation of a portion of
the Land Surveyors' Act:

"The term 'material evidence', as used in Section 8762)a( of Chapter 15, Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code )Land Surveyor Act( does not relate itself to either old or new )found or set( evidence. “

"Conversely, survey points found or set do not necessarily constitute 'material evidence', which would require recordation of a map according to Section 8762 )a(. If the evidence )found or set( is not significant enough to make a difference, then it cannot be deemed 'material evidence'.”

"However, it can be stated that recordation of a map is not required according to Section 8762 )a( if points were set which do not appear on any map, but which points would not significantly affect the outcome of the survey; and the best interest of the public would not be significantly enhanced by the recordation. "

When I was cutting my teeth in this profession . . . the modus operandi was: “If ten surveyors come up with insignificant differences - then no need to file a Record of Survey. That is probably why there are so many “unrecorded” plats/surveys. Or - they thumbed their noses at the law? (Also see California Surveyor 1ssue #12, February 1970 that may have been ignored?.)

I recently had a conversation with a land surveyor working on a boundary survey in Marin County. He got a bit of a run around about needing an unfiled map. After he paid for it, he found it was of little use in his boundary resolution. (He wasn't allowed to look at the map before he paid for a copy.) I tried to explain to him that I strongly questioned the value of an unfiled retracement survey, especially one completed when our recording laws were in place. I asked the other surveyor these questions:

- What are the controlling calls in your vesting deed?
- What are the original monuments?



“What-if-time”: One, it “assumes” a “retracement” survey. What if it was the original (minor) subdivision?! Do we not retrace the foot-steps of he original (subdividing) surveyor - regardless if it was not recorded? Without attempting to look for unrecorded surveys are we doing the client a favor by this omission? What if “the other guy” looked for and found an unrecorded survey and turns out - that unrecorded survey could conclusively establish the boundary? The surveyor that did not perform such research may find himself or herself in deposition or court with a deer-in-the-headlights look after the opposing side’s attorney springs the unrecorded plat on ‘em, and asks, “would this change your opinion?” By the time a survey works its way to deposition/court - the client, more likely than not, has spent tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees. (The non-research-surveyor may have saved his client a thousand bucks?)

Two, because we didn’t budget for “research” does that mean we don’t look? When searching for passive monuments that control a boundary . . . and not finding them, some may say “Searched for-Not Found” (SFNF).

Isn’t research as important? What if an unrecorded map was performed by a lousy surveyor, that knew how to measure . . . . and found some pretty compelling evidence? Do you not search for those records because it was not recorded or might cost some money? Evidence is evidence! What if such records can re-establish the position of an original monument?! It seems to me that if one goes to the field without proper research, he/she is going off half-cocked without the necessary information that may find the original intent quicker than collecting data that are only opined re-surveys. Patience. Patience.

If a surveyor is preparing a retracement survey and then not filing that map as the law requires, I would argue his/her monuments are of little value. Is the unfiled map signed and sealed? Was it really prepared by the land surveyor? Does he explain on the map how the boundary was resolved and monuments were set? Are his monuments identified with his LS number? How do I know those monuments weren't set by a land owner or a party chief doing an unlicensed survey on a Saturday? An unsigned napkin sketch by a land surveyor who isn't following the law isn't a very reliable source of information. We have laws requiring identification of monuments, signing of maps, and filing of maps in a public repository for good reasons.


Most all of the above could be answered with thorough research. In any case it is evidence. Evidence that, more often than not, is accepted by a court of law.

In rare cases, where monuments of questionable authority had been relied upon by ALL of the land-owners sharing the monumented line, an unfiled map might offer some value. However, I suspect any neighbors who disagreed with the location of the monuments would have a good legal argument that they can't be relied on.


Then the neighbors who disagree might see midiation or worse. If the points have been “blessed”, (as our good friend Jeff Lucas might say) and over time improvements were constructed . . . what might a court say?

In short: I worry that unfiled maps may be an attempt by some land surveyors to keep non-locals from surveying in their backyard. My argument in response is that retracement monuments from an unfiled map probably aren't controlling, unless rare circumstances arise.


In my fifty years of surveying that has not been the case in Marin County and other counties. (Before 1960s - yes, that might have been true in Marin.)

I believe unfiled records should be shared generously and unconditionally, especially if it is used as a reference on a RoS.

I know I will take heat for this on this forum from owners of old records, but I hold this opinion with irons in the fire.

I have more than one old defunct company's records at my office acquired over the 60+ years my company has been in business, some at a price. I research and refer to the records all the time. I do not charge for requests and so far, always search the records myself when requested, because I know how and where everything is filed. Granted I get very few requests.

I have managed to get almost all of one of the old defunct company's records scanned and posted online on the County's record map gis site and also on the Central Valley Chapter's web site, but that is less than a quarter of the old records I have.

I believe that anything unfiled that is referenced on a RoS should be saved/indexed/filed by the Surveyor of Record and be made available to any future retracing Surveyor at no cost. Isn't one of the purposes of a Survey to help future Surveyors trace the footsteps?
It would also be nice if the County Surveyor saved/indexed/filed anything unfiled that is referenced on a RoS that has been submitted.

Maybe CLSA could make an effort to start collecting (or purchasing, if necessary) all unfiled records and put them online. I would be happy to donate the records I have. I would also donate time to get them transferred.


Admirable trait, Scott - scanning all those records and gifting them to the surveying community!
I don’t mean to incense some . . . but do I sense a bit of entitlement? Do you fault a guy who has spent tens of thousands of dollars into purchasing records?

Most owners of archives purchased them for convenience - not to withhold knowledge from competitors, (has been my experience).

Does one fault the archive-owner for receiving a stipend for his time to research information in his/her archive for a competitor? Does one fault the archive-owner for the price-per-square-foot costs to store these records? How about the cost to index these records? I guarantee - it is not a money making enterprise. Quite the opposite!

I have a couple of survey business records. I do not have an office. They are stored offsite and it takes me about an hour to retrieve records and I pay $800 a month to store them. I always make them available but must charge for my research time (to feed me and my family) and storage. Do you believe I am entitled to be paid for my time and the cost to store the records?


What’s wrong with that? Seems fair to me.

I’d pay a substantial fee for that one unrecorded survey that becomes conclusive evidence! This pecuniary act could save the client tens of thousands of dollars should it wind up in depositions and/or court!

An example of a boundary dispute in Marin: One boundary was opined by recorded-maps-research-only surveyor. Another by a surveyor that did thorough research which found a lead plug and nail hole in a concrete driveway. This lead plug was 1.4 feet from the recorded-maps-research-only surveyor point. Said lead plug was set from original hubs in the 1960s and was more harmonious with the improvements by about 1.5 feet!

Enough of Crazy Phil’s ramblings . . .

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby mpallamary » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:33 am

Here, in San Diego, I have come across numerous surveys where the surveyor states, "searched for but not found" when retracing streets that have been paved over. As anyone who works in these areas knows, the original streets were concrete. After you did a hole ten inched deep, you will find the original monument, sometimes set many years ago by the city engineer, even though nothing has been filed or recorded. Of course, it was the city that paved the monuments over. I have found these old monuments out of location by as much as 18 inches.

Research you say......

There are unrecorded city notes that although not filed, can be obtained if you look for them. And in many instances, there are private survey notes that show setting the paved over monuments!

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Scott » Mon Aug 10, 2020 3:56 pm

What happens when these "archive-owners" pass away suddenly and the wife is left with this big ol' warehouse full of crap. Is somebody going to purchase and store all that? Maybe, if the surveying community even knows about it, but I doubt it.

Once I get it scanned and online, I no longer have to worry about it, ever, at all.

I am not chucking the originals after scanning, but way out in the future, when I pass and my wife throws it all away, there will at least be scans online.

BTW, There are new owners of my off-site storage and they want to double the rent. Does anybody want to purchase some records?
Scott DeLaMare
LS 8078

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby btaylor » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:11 pm

Scott wrote:What happens when these "archive-owners" pass away suddenly and the wife is left with this big ol' warehouse full of crap. Is somebody going to purchase and store all that? Maybe, if the surveying community even knows about it, but I doubt it.


Very close to what happened with one of the most prominent coastal surveyors here in the Bay Area. We were able to procure them just in time. Very lucky set of circumstances. They have been invaluable in some areas.

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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby Jim Frame » Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:29 pm

20-odd years ago one of the older firms in Yolo County folded up when the owner died. I don't know if he had any heirs, but whoever cleaned out the office threw all the maps and records into a dumpster. One of the former employees, who had long since left and opened up shop under his own license, got word of it and rescued a bunch of the paper. Some years back he died as well, and I don't know what became of the stuff.
Jim Frame
Frame Surveying & Mapping
609 A Street
Davis, CA 95616
[url]framesurveying.com[/url]

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hellsangle
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Re: Surveying in Marin County

Postby hellsangle » Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:59 pm

Great points, Scott & Jim!

Crazy Phil


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