Challenges with the County Recorder

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RICH FULTZ JR
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Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby RICH FULTZ JR » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:33 am

I realize this topic is similar to a recent discussion on this forum. The other discussion was regarding the Alameda County Recorder, as I recall. Unfortunately, at the time of that discussion, I did not have the opportunity to chime in. My challenges are very similar here in Stanislaus County. Basically we have clerks working in these offices with little to no experience. In Stanislaus County the clerks utilize a "check list" which is created by a committee of some sort. Nobody seems to know who is on the committee or where or when they meet. They do however use this check list from the committee as their only determination if your document is worthy of being recorded. As mentioned, the clerks who are following this check list have minimal experience. The most senior clerk in Stanislaus County has been on staff for less than one year. I have been recording documents on a regular basis for about 14 years now. I record anything from maps, Lot Line Adjustments, R/W & easement dedications, agreements, liens, etc... It has gotten to the point where I have about a 50% chance of success when I take a document to record. Depending on which clerk or what day or time I go, has an impact on my success. I apologize for venting my frustration, however I wanted to give you a clear understanding of this challenge. We all know the amount of time, effort and expense that it takes to complete some of these documents. It is very frustrating when we take our review and approval very seriously, only to have the rules change at the County Recorder's office. My latest frustration is regarding Lot Line Adjustments. In Turlock the City Engineer and the City Land Surveyor sign and stamp a LLA for approval. We are certifying that the LLA is in compliance with SMA (66412d), Turlock Municipal Code and technically correct. In my opinion, it is required that both the City Engineer and I approve the document. This is consistent with our approval of the maps. The County Recorder's clerk insist that our signatures shall be acknowledged(notarized). I question this requirement because our signatures are not acknowledged on the maps. The clerk's respond by saying that is what our "check list" says. I have found it interesting that this check list does not require the owner's signature on a LLA. I explained that issue to one of the clerks and asked her if she would be okay with an agency approving a LLA on her property without her acknowledgement. She agreed, that is an issue, but still needed to follow the check list. I could continue to share my experiences and details of all the challenges, however I know that is not going to resolve the issue.
Understanding that their are others having similar challenges with the Recorder's office, we need to take a different approach. The Land Surveying profession needs to communicate with this "committee" who is the author of this "check list" that all clerks are utilizing. My assumption is this committee is representing all the County Recorders in California. With that being said, the communication from the Land Surveying profession needs to be a State wide effort.
My goal with this post is to see if there is any interest to pursue this effort. These challenges have a very direct impact to me as a City Land Surveyor and I would imagine other agency Land Surveyors would agree. This definitely something the agency Land Surveyors neeed to address. I certainly welcome and encourage input from private sector Land Surveyors as well.

Any thoughts?

Rich Fultz, PLS
City Land Surveyor
City of Turlock

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Warren Smith
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Warren Smith » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:51 am

The California Recorders' Association of California (CRAC) promulgates a Manual for use Statewide - similar to CEAC's Guide to the Preparation of Records of Survey. This is the origin of the checklist. Typically, a clerk will bring up the document you are trying to record by its title. If it doesn't meet all the designated parameters, you should receive a reference sheet with the applicable statute cited.

That's the theory. In practice, counter techs are the first line of contact, and any grey areas need to be kicked up to senior staff. I used to have issues with recording Certificates of Correction, but after meeting with someone in management, it got sorted out. We have encountered the notary requirement recently for documents which bear a seal. Part of the discussion needs to address the authorizing statutes contained in different sections of the Government Code, and the Business and Professions Code.

You're right, it may mean a liaison committee between, say, CEAC and CRAC to update the Recorders' Manual in this regard.
Warren D. Smith, LS 4842
County Surveyor
Tuolumne County

William Magee
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby William Magee » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:56 am

Question:
What is the form and content of a LLA "approval" document for recording?

Answer, the state law is silent on this. It is open for interpretation.
Please don’t sue.

Ric7308
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Ric7308 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:06 am

Rich,

Warren said it very well and much better than I would have. There are a few times annually that BPELSG receives requests for certification of licensure and the requestor insists that our signature and Board Seal be notarized. We simply ask them to provide the laws that give them the authority to require our signature to be notarized and for the ones that actually respond, there is usually an exception for a state official that they failed to recognize and which we point out. The Recorders' Manual that Warren refers to may contain a similar exception for local government officials or at the least, the authorizing law behind the Manual should. It's most likely a new clerk who is used to seeing a seal on a document that is the notary seal and has less familiarity with other professional seals.

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Warren Smith
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Warren Smith » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:08 am

That's another good reason to support legislation for a non-conditional parcel map for lot line adjustments. It would introduce uniformity to the process.
Warren D. Smith, LS 4842
County Surveyor
Tuolumne County

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mpallamary
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby mpallamary » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:36 am

I have lectured before the County Recorder's Association and know/knew the committee members. I have also set up a working committee here in San Diego for the local chapter and I have gotten them involved in recording standards and other mechanisms. This is something State CLSA should consider.

I have some contacts if needed.

Please advise as I am at your disposal.

http://www.craconline.org/

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dedkad
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby dedkad » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:18 pm

I'm not aware of anything in the state law that addresses who approves a LLA. Who approves your LLA's in Turlock shouldn't be a matter of opinion. It should be in your agency's ordinances or at least in their policies & procedures. In many agencies, including mine, the Community Development Director signs the LLA. I get his signature notarized. Unless your agency requires it, having both the City Engineer and the City Surveyor sign the LLA seems like overkill.

But back to your general complaint, I agree that getting documents recorded can sometimes be very frustrating. Honestly, I don't care if they require a certain fee or a certain notarization or a certain format, I just want them to be consistent so I don't have to make multiple trips down there.

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Ian Wilson
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Ian Wilson » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:49 pm

Whoa! Take a step back there and re-read that first post.

"It has gotten to the point where I have about a 50% chance of success when I take a document to record."

This is not some rookie trying to get one over on the County Recorder. This statement comes from a gentleman who has been surveying since shortly after he could walk. This is a gentleman who has spent the past 14 years as the City Surveyor for the City of Turlock. This quote comes from a government official! And he admits that he's got a 50/50 shot at getting the statutorily mandated document filed!

What chance for us mere mortals?

This thread goes hand in hand with the one I started when frustrated by a "checklister" requiring a Basis of Bearings on a description for an easement over the "northerly 10 feet" of the parcel.

I really would like to get a committee moving at the state level to pursue this sort of thing and help develop standards. Is someone interested in stepping up as Chair? It appears that there are a number of people who are interested in serving on the committee...

Let me know, please.

Ian Wilson
2017 President

Ric7308
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Ric7308 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:16 pm

dedkad wrote:I'm not aware of anything in the state law that addresses who approves a LLA. Who approves your LLA's in Turlock shouldn't be a matter of opinion. It should be in your agency's ordinances or at least in their policies & procedures. In many agencies, including mine, the Community Development Director signs the LLA. I get his signature notarized. Unless your agency requires it, having both the City Engineer and the City Surveyor sign the LLA seems like overkill.

But back to your general complaint, I agree that getting documents recorded can sometimes be very frustrating. Honestly, I don't care if they require a certain fee or a certain notarization or a certain format, I just want them to be consistent so I don't have to make multiple trips down there.


Dedkad, and presumably your Community Development Director is a licensed land surveyor or Pre-82 civil engineer, correct?

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mpallamary
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby mpallamary » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:32 pm

Please see the attached.
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William Magee
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby William Magee » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:39 pm

As an aside, review of the legal descriptions and exhibits for technical correctness or conflict with title, would seem to be prohibited by 66412(d). I can name several agencies which do not review the legal descriptions or exhibits for technical correctness or conflict with title, apparently keeping in conformance with the law:

per 66412(d):
"A local agency or advisory agency shall limit its review and approval to a determination of whether or not the parcels resulting from the lot line adjustment will conform to the local general plan, any applicable specific plan, any applicable coastal plan, and zoning and building ordinances."

Purely a planning process.
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Ric7308
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Ric7308 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:22 pm

William Magee wrote:As an aside, review of the legal descriptions and exhibits for technical correctness or conflict with title, would seem to be prohibited by 66412(d). I can name several agencies which do not review the legal descriptions or exhibits for technical correctness or conflict with title, apparently keeping in conformance with the law:

per 66412(d):
"A local agency or advisory agency shall limit its review and approval to a determination of whether or not the parcels resulting from the lot line adjustment will conform to the local general plan, any applicable specific plan, any applicable coastal plan, and zoning and building ordinances."

Purely a planning process.


Unless the local agency has enacted ordinances, as allowed by the SMA, that establish a policy for review of legal descriptions and exhibits for whatever reason that in the opinion of BPELSG is the practice of land surveying.

-Dave Ryan-
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby -Dave Ryan- » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:28 pm

Mr. Magee, I’m going to have to differ with your interpretation on the process. 66412(d) outlines the legal requirements/limitations on approving whether a lot line adjustment can occur(be approved). It doesn’t speak to the ministerial processing of documents to effect the completion of the lot line adjustment. A City or County would be negligent in not ensuring the documentation is done properly. I can assure you, if someone who is familiar with and experienced with the LLA recordation process isn‘t overseeing the final delivery of the properly prepared and executed documention to the Recorder, a mess would ensue. That’s just anecdotal experience from 21 years of watching what comes through as supposedly finished LLA documents.

Those agencies who aren’t looking at these things closely are in for a rude awakening when landowners start coming back wondering why their title is all screwed up. I'm talking about descriptions AND the form the document takes. I think the public has an expectation someone is actually looking at this stuff before blindly sending it off to be set in concrete in the public records.

Dave Ryan,
Arcata

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dedkad
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby dedkad » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:36 pm

Ric7308 wrote:
dedkad wrote:I'm not aware of anything in the state law that addresses who approves a LLA. Who approves your LLA's in Turlock shouldn't be a matter of opinion. It should be in your agency's ordinances or at least in their policies & procedures. In many agencies, including mine, the Community Development Director signs the LLA. I get his signature notarized. Unless your agency requires it, having both the City Engineer and the City Surveyor sign the LLA seems like overkill.

But back to your general complaint, I agree that getting documents recorded can sometimes be very frustrating. Honestly, I don't care if they require a certain fee or a certain notarization or a certain format, I just want them to be consistent so I don't have to make multiple trips down there.


Dedkad, and presumably your Community Development Director is a licensed land surveyor or Pre-82 civil engineer, correct?


I was talking strictly about who signs the document as "approved", not the person who actually does the reviewing. I agree with others that someone working under the direction of a licensed land surveyor should review the legal descriptions for technical correctness, but I don't see where in the SMA it requires me to put my signature on that document also.

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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby William Magee » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:42 pm

Dave, I understand your view from the practical application perspective, but not necessarily as to what the law itself states. In my opinion 66412(d) is largely not a whole law. For instance it states that "the LLA shall be reflected in a deed". Often this is not the practical case. Instead, agencies often deviate from this statutory requirement and record some agency approval document of some form or another. Some agencies require additional certificates of compliance. One agency I know requires a merger process in parallel. yada yada yada.

I do know of several agencies which do not review the legal descriptions or accompanying exhibits/plats for technical correctness or title concerns. I asked the head of one planning department about this not long ago and he stated that those documents were the responsibility of the preparing surveyor and title company.

Personally, I'm only debating this for the purpose of continuing a much needed discussion. Dave, you hit on a key where you said 66412(d) does not speak to the ministerial processing of documents. I'll take that one step further and declare that I believe 66412(d) has long been in need of language specifying the form, content and ministerial processing of LLA's. In my not so humble opinion, "the LLA shall be reflected in a deed" is a reflection on a how not to create legislation. More amazing is that it is still the operative language regarding form and content even though it is often not the practical application employed by many agencies.
Please don’t sue.

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dedkad
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby dedkad » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:55 pm

William Magee wrote:As an aside, review of the legal descriptions and exhibits for technical correctness or conflict with title, would seem to be prohibited by 66412(d). I can name several agencies which do not review the legal descriptions or exhibits for technical correctness or conflict with title, apparently keeping in conformance with the law:

per 66412(d):
"A local agency or advisory agency shall limit its review and approval to a determination of whether or not the parcels resulting from the lot line adjustment will conform to the local general plan, any applicable specific plan, any applicable coastal plan, and zoning and building ordinances."

Purely a planning process.


I agree it pretty much falls into the planning realm, but from an agency perspective I would argue that a technical review is necessary in order to determine that the proposed boundary lines are indeed where they are supposed to be in order to be in conformance with the building and zoning codes. Anyone can draw a line across a page and say this is where the new lot line is, but it takes a surveyor to review the legal description to verify that the line matches the drawing.

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David Kendall
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby David Kendall » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:27 pm

Ian Wilson wrote: I really would like to get a committee moving at the state level to pursue this sort of thing and help develop standards.


With all due respect Mr President I don't see development of more standards solving this one. It's bureaucrats thinking new and improved standards will make everything all right that created this checklist fiasco we are in now. Fact is, there's no easy solution, save a case by case education campaign similar to the one for monument preservation (which the OP knows something about)...

Inexperience is the recurring theme in these encounters (this one and the BOB on legal description thread) Education is the solution. How do we educate an industry of self righteous clerks?

Maybe collect the body of law on these topics and put it into a slick pamphlet that you can drop into the envelope with the documents to be recorded. Once the county recorder has a conference with county counsel regarding straight law they will likely be set straight as well. Same goes for community development directors and city engineers

These situations are obviously too complex to fit into a better checklist to fix the broken standards already in place. I'm about exasperated from watching people trying to standardize humanity, it's ridiculous! We have to become politicians and beat them at their own game.

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Ian Wilson
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Ian Wilson » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:31 pm

Excellent comments, Mr. Kendall. And a very positive aim and direction for a committee.

I would welcome your input.

Education. Education. Education.

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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby -Dave Ryan- » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:25 pm

Mr Magee- you hit a nail right on the head with your observation about 66142(d) offering little guidance on the process. It's pretty poorly written and has probably helped contribute to a multitude of varying processes throughout the state. I often wonder if a lot line adjustment has even practically or legally occurred with what agencies are doing in some cases. I don't necessarily think a step-by-step process needs to be statutorally spelled out, but it's been batted around for so many years, maybe we'll actually improve on the language someday.

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RICH FULTZ JR
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby RICH FULTZ JR » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:19 am

I appreciate all your valuable input on this topic. The discussion has gone a couple different directions,which is good. My goal was to focus on the issues with the Recorder's check list. The LLA was intended to provide an example of my challenges. I agree, we need to establish a committee to voice our concerns on the content of the Recorder's Manual. I am certainly interested in participating in this effort, I will take the role as the Chair if needed. I have no experience with State level committees, therefore I would need some guidance. Is this something we could kick off at the CLSA conference as a round table discussion?

I thought it might be beneficial to provide the specific check list being utilized for recording a LLA. Please see the attached image.
For those of you have not seen this check list, this should give you better understanding of the issue. I have identified several flaws with this check list and items that can be misinterpreted by clerks. I encourage you to review it and identify the issues as well.

Again, I appreciate all the discussion on the LLA process from agency to agency. I also agree, this is a topic that warrants further discussion. I know our City of Turlock process needs some refinement. We have a group of agency Land Surveyors in the Central Valley who meet monthly to discuss procedures and common challenges. This grass roots effort has been beneficial, however it does not include representatives beyond Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced and Mariposa counties.

Thanks again for all the valuable input.
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Scott
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Scott » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:44 am

Does anyone know the specific citation that allows LS's & RE's to sign and stamp documents without an acknowledgment that are recorded (e.g., pretty much every legal description I have ever scrivened)?

Maybe a combination of citations including:
PLSA §8761.1. Consistency of authority to sign and seal land surveying documents
The authority of a licensed land surveyor or registered civil engineer to prepare, sign, issue, stamp, seal, or approve any map, plat, report, description or other document shall be consistent with that person’s authority to practice land surveying.

I already searched Board Rules and PLSA for;
acknowledgment
notary
signature
signed
sign
Scott DeLaMare
LS 8078

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Warren Smith
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Warren Smith » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:23 am

The Government Code sections which deal with County Recorders' duties specify acknowledgement of signatures for the execution of documents affecting interests in real property.

A document which approves the creation of new parcels, adjusts or merges existing ones, requires consent of the fee title owners, but approvals are accomplished under authority of Codes relating to legislative bodies or officials attesting to that approval. Think Clerk of the Board/City Clerk, County/City Surveyor, Tax Collector. There are official seals for those signatures.
Warren D. Smith, LS 4842
County Surveyor
Tuolumne County

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Scott
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Scott » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:11 am

Thanks Warren, Execution/Approval, I don't think I can explain that well enough to a clerk to accomplish anything.

Sometimes it is the director of planning, or some other administrative person, signing/approving the Certificate of LLA Approval without an accompanied Professional Seal. In that case, I do believe the signature should be acknowledged.

If the City Engineer and/or the City Surveyor sign and stamp their approval on a Certificate of LLA Approval to be recorded, I do not believe an acknowledgment is needed.

I do not believe a signature that is accompanied by a Professional Seal needs to be acknowledged, but I am looking for direct proof, which may not exist.

Ric, can you whip up a new Board Rule or amend the PLSA to state in plain language?

Does anybody know where to get an electronic current searchable copy of the Document Reference and Indexing Manual (an official publication of the County Recorders' Association of California)?
Scott DeLaMare
LS 8078

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Ian Wilson
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Ian Wilson » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:24 am

Scott:

It's from a few years ago, but...http://docshare04.docshare.tips/files/11014/110149549.pdf

The file is too large to upload.
Ian Wilson, P.L.S. (CA / NV / CO)
Alameda County Surveyor

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Scott
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Re: Challenges with the County Recorder

Postby Scott » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:38 am

Thanks Ian.

Yeah, 2008, I go that one.

I'm looking for a real clean scan of 96 to add on the end of Requirement 4: "(unless accompanied by a Professional Seal)" and somewhere also add "Revised 2020" to it to take a copy down to the recorder, HA.
Scott DeLaMare
LS 8078


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