Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

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John Williams, PLS
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Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

Postby John Williams, PLS » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:47 am

I would like a few opinions and possibly case information that may help my client and expedite a current Lot Line Adjustment. The background info: Parcel Map prepared in 1980 recorded in 1981, the Owners statement "hereby dedicate in fee for public use the rights of way for road purposes shown on this map". The Board of Supervisors Clerk statement "accepted on behalf of the public the offer of dedication of the easements for road purposes shown on this map"
Fee or Easement?
The initial segment of the road shown on the map is in-place (albeit dirt) and partially maintained by the county to access the only developed portion of 1 parcel. The portion of road of our concern has not been developed and remains raw ground to this day. The tentative map public works department files from 1979 required dedications to access what we’ll call the “back parcel”.
Today all three parcels are under the same ownership and we are adjusting configuration of the lots, Lot Line Adjustment. The “back parcel” will be included into a newly configured parcel which is basically the current developed parcel and accessed by county dirt road. I am preparing new legal descriptions for the three parcels, I would like to utilize the previously shown centerline of the dedicated roads per the parcel map as the parcel boundaries. There is question to the underlying title of the roadbed, fee or easement? One of the newly configured parcels is on both sides of the undeveloped road and all three parcels will have access to the currently maintained portion. The county is concerned about the new legal descriptions being written to centerline. I however I do not want to end my descriptions at the right-of-way line and leave the roadbed out of the parcel conveyance. We understand the roadways as shown on the parcel map will still exist either as fee or easement and that we cannot grant land we do not have rights to. I want to provide a contiguous parcel description not separated by a 60 foot roadway strip for the future if the roadway could be vacated or abandoned through the Streets and Highways code process at a later date. The original roadway purpose to access the “back parcel” will no longer exist and the road was never improved.

I would like to hear some opinions from this group.
Thanks
John Williams

DaveRyan
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Re: Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

Postby DaveRyan » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:51 am

I would interpret it as fee. The dedication wording was likely the language subject to variability, i.e. doesn't exist on every subdivision and was therefor looked at more closely. It likely didn't just slip by. It's very clear and straightforward. I would surmise the acceptance was a standard statement taken from other maps in the City/County and did just slip by. What was their standard at the time? Look at 5 maps preceding and following. Look at the conditions of approval if you're really not convinced. Look at the Board's agenda item or interdepartmental correspondence that put it on the agenda.

Additionally, that's a clear action taken by the owner, signed, notarized, etc. The offer of the grant or dedication in fee is clearly there. The Clerk's statement shows intent to accept the dedication...whatever form it's in.

Dave Ryan,
Arcata

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Warren Smith
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Re: Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

Postby Warren Smith » Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:17 pm

There's a chance that it may be an easement. See if you can find the staff report, which may address the acceptance of a lesser interest than the offer.
Warren D. Smith, LS 4842
County Surveyor
Tuolumne County

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John Williams, PLS
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Location: Eastern Sierra

Re: Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

Postby John Williams, PLS » Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:07 pm

Thanks Dave,
Yes originally I though straight forward "dedicated in fee" but then the attorneys got involved. How do you feel about the new parcel descriptions going to centerline? and let them hash it out later. I think I need to check out the conditions of approval. the Public Works associate has found some internal notes, and BOS minutes, but I haven't seen the conditions of approval.
Good advice thank you.
I was going to write it as a together with type of description and define the roadway separately with a statement to the effect of "together with any rights that may exist" but was swayed by the client's attorney to go continuous.

John Williams

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Peter Ehlert
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Re: Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

Postby Peter Ehlert » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:35 pm

John: would legal staff consider a formal "acceptance in fee" at this time?
They would be considering the original dedication in the same light as an "irrevocable offer of dedication", still open to acceptance.
I believe there is some case law on that situation.

I vaguely remember a similar situation, offered to County, all annexed to City, then accepted by City... no history available.
City legal staff said something like "the acceptance is only a formality, obligation to maintain was the original issue", accepted it, and moved on with the project.
Peter Ehlert

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dedkad
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Re: Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

Postby dedkad » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:57 pm

John Williams, PLS wrote:Thanks Dave,
Yes originally I though straight forward "dedicated in fee" but then the attorneys got involved. How do you feel about the new parcel descriptions going to centerline? and let them hash it out later.
John Williams

I would try to figure it out now, so you could possibly use the parcel map to clean up the mess. If it's an easement, you could abandon it on the parcel map per Section 66499.20.2 of the SMA. If any portion of the street is still needed, it could be re-offered on the parcel map.

I agree with Dave that you should look at other maps at that time. An agency usually has a policy on how they take in streets. They are either all easements or all fee, it's not a random thing.

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John Williams, PLS
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Re: Fee, Easement, and new descriptions

Postby John Williams, PLS » Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:18 am

Thanks for the discussion points.
Peter, our client wants to look it as easement. Civil Code 1069 lends itself to the straight forward thought of dedicated in fee, in favor of the grantee.

I did review a handful of parcel maps before and after the subject map and they revealed a bit of history. It almost looks like the owner's statements were more based on the submitting surveyors style of statements, some were "in fee", "fee simple", "as easements" ,"dedicated for public use", etc. A bit all over the board. 2 of 5 maps prior the subject map accepted easements offers.The interesting part was that 6 of 7 maps after the subject map rejected all of the roads and drainage offers, and they were located in actual communities. The subject map with the acceptance is "out there" surrounded by BLM land, one private parcel located nearby but not even adjoining. I can't see why the county would have wanted to accept the offer. but as mentioned, I haven't gotten a chance to see the conditions of approval for the tentative.
Thanks again.
John


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