Is It A Public Or Private Improvement Project? Court Reviews The Differences With Millions In Claims On The Line.

By Natalie Kuffel and Glen Hansen

In R&R Pipeline, Inc. v. Bond Safeguard Insurance Company (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 438, the Court of Appeal for the Second District held that a contractor who provided infrastructure work on a subdivision could timely file a $1.2 million lawsuit to enforce a subdivision improvement bond because the project was private and not public, even though the work was required by a subdivision agreement between the developer and a public entity.

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City Subdivision Regulations Do Not Apply To Family Compound On Existing Lots

By William W. Abbott

Tower Lane Properties v. City of Los Angeles (February 28, 2014, B244092) ___ Cal.App.4th ___. This one is not complicated. Facing an applicant’s request for a grading permit on a hillside to construct three homes and accessory uses on three existing parcels, the city required the property owner to obtain a tentative map. The requirement stemmed from the city’s ordinance which specified that a map was required if grading activity involved a hillside site of 60,000 square feet or more. The city offered a waiver of the map requirement, conditioned upon completion of CEQA documentation. Passing on the waiver option, the applicant filed suit to set aside the requirement to process the tentative map as no subdivision was involved.

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BONDING IS NOT ALWAYS A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE

By William W. Abbott

If you were hoping for an insightful article on human relationships, you are out of luck and clearly, you are reading the wrong blog. But if you are interested in bonding as it relates to subdivisions and improvement agreements, read on. With a frequency slightly ahead of locusts appearing every seventeen years, cases involving subdivision improvement bonds are cyclical, trailing serious downturns in the real estate development market. Two cases this year illustrate interesting features of this practice area.

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Buyer And Seller Can Cure A SMA Violation Under Black Hills Through Subsequent Agreement Modification

By William W. Abbott

The last market downturn has resulted in Subdivision Map Act (“SMA”) cases involving circumstances in which the parties to a purchase or option agreement pertaining to a portion of a legal parcel failed to include express language as a contingency requiring compliance with the SMA. Depending upon whether the real estate market is rising or falling, both buyers and sellers have taken advantage of the limitations of Government Code section 64499.30. To date, these cases include Black Hills Investments, Inc. v. Albertson’s, Inc. (2007) 146 Cal.App.4th 883 and Sixells, LLC v. Cannery Business Park (2008) 170 Cal.App.4th 648.

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California Legislature Breathes Life Into Tentative Maps One More Time

By William W. Abbott

Not surprisingly, the building industry was able to convince the Legislature to keep pending maps alive for another two years. AB 116, Chap. 62 Stats. 2013. Fortunately, the Legislature abandoned its existing complicated statutory formula for determining winners and losers, opting for much simpler protocols. If the TSM was approved after January 1, 2000 and the map was pending on July 11, 2013, the tentative map is extended by 24 months. This extension occurs automatically.

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Mobilehome Park Conversions Trigger Coastal and Mello Act Compliance Requirements

By William W. Abbott

Pacific Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates, LLC v. City of Los Angeles (November 29, 2012, S187243) ___Cal.4th ___. In a 6 to 1 decision, the California Supreme Court concluded that mobilehome park conversions subject to Government Code section 66427.5 of the Subdivision Map Act are also subject to the Coastal Act and Mello Act (the latter for affordable housing in the Coastal zone.) In 1991, the Legislature enacted Government Code section 66427.5. This new code section set forth the particular determinations under the Subdivision Map Act when local government was processing a subdivision map application for conversion of a rental park to an owner occupied park and was intended to narrow the scope of local government inquiry which might otherwise be permitted by the Subdivision Map Act when processing other types of proposed subdivisions. The 1991 legislation included language which stated, in conjunction with local government review of the tentative map, that “The scope of the hearing shall be limited to the issue of compliance with this section.”

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Appellate Court Applies Permit Streamlining Act to Affirm Effect of City Acknowledging Completeness of Application; Restricts Consideration of Tenant Survey in Mobilehome Park Conversion Application

By William W. Abbott

Within the Subdivision Map Act (Map Act), the processing of a mobilehome park conversion (from rental to individual ownership) invokes some of the more complex procedures, and from a local government perspective, potentially involves an application with a lot of emotional baggage. Unlike other Map Act related applications, park conversions involve a tenant survey, the results of which have been the subject of a several appellate court decisions. The recent appellate opinion in Chino MHC, LP v. City of Chino (October 31, 2012, E053467) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, provides guidance in two areas: what is the effect under the Permit Streamlining Act of a city determination that an application is complete when later reviewing the mandated tenant survey form, and, are the results of the tenant survey the basis to deny a conversion request?

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Court Upholds Processing of Sequential Boundary Line Adjustments

By William W. Abbott

Sierra Club v. Napa County Board of Supervisors (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 162.

In 1991, the California Legislature amended the Subdivision Map Act to restrict the use of boundary line adjustments by limiting their use to four or fewer adjacent parcels. Government Code Section 66412(d). While intended to deal with the reconfiguration of large ranches without going through the subdivision process, the 1991 amendment made the process of making minor technical adjustments between contiguous parcels unnecessarily more cumbersome then what was really necessary. (Essentially, the use of a nail gun to put in a thumbtack.) Local governments and engineers developed different strategies for working around the amendments. One of those was processing multiple sequential adjustments. 

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How Do You Say "No" To A Housing Project? With Findings.

By William W. Abbott

This case reminds me of that dreaded moment when a judge, work supervisor or parent turns to you and asks, “what part of “NO” don’t you understand; the “N” or the “O”? And as simple as the question is, the answer, in a land use context, is more complicated then would first appear. For purposes of housing projects, the riddle is Government Code section 65589.5(j) which, among other provisions, requires a city or county to adopt findings justifying the denial or density reduction in circumstances in which the project complies with “applicable, objective general plan and zoning standards and criteria, including design review standards.” This code section was added in an effort to tighten down the discretion exercised by local officials when acting on a housing project application. It is codified as part of the Housing Accountability Act. A companion code section places the burden of proof on the city or county. (Government Code section 65589.6.)

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Tentative Maps Receive Third Extension

By Leslie Walker

On July 13, 2011, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 208, granting a two-year extension to certain tentative maps. To qualify, the maps must have been approved and not yet expired as of July 15, 2011 and must expire before January 1, 2014. The terms of the extension are similar to a similar bill passed in 2009 (Assembly Bill 333, see How Many Lawyers Does it Take to Extend a Tentative Map?). Assembly Bill 208 extensions are in addition to extensions provided for in the following Government Code sections:

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Vested Rights Class at UC Davis Extension August 18, 2011

Please join William W. Abbott and Steven Rudolph on August 18, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM for an in depth look at the art of crafting development agreements in their UC Davis Extension course, Vested Rights, Vesting Maps and Development Agreements.

Development agreements are an effective avenue for a community and a developer to work together to process projects. Both sides need to carefully consider the terms of these contracts and look at questions of content and performance before completing such agreements. Review the legislative and judicial aspects of development agreements. Examine the legal basis for development agreements and the overlap between agreements and vesting subdivision maps.

Gain an understanding of the negotiating process, identify and discuss the range of options available when negotiating a development agreement, and review the "theoretically" possible agreement. Review the key points to an agreement and learn ways to assist in understanding the needs of the "other side." Learn how to strategically pick the players to conduct the negotiation. An in-depth discussion will look at techniques and concepts that are likely to work, those that do not, and why most attempts at development agreements are doomed to failure.

Topics include:

  • Common Law Vested Rights
  • Legal Review
  • Development Agreements vs. Vested Maps
  • The Development Agreement Statute
  • Key Terms and Alternative Approaches
  • Considerations in Negotiating the Agreement
  • Contents of an Agreement
  • Testing the Waters
  • Paper Control—Who Drafts the Document?
  • Enforceability
  • How to Implement Agreements
  • What Happens After the Life of an Agreement?

Register at:

http://extension.ucdavis.edu/unit/land_use_and_natural_resources/course/description/?type=A&unit=LUNR&SectionID=157252&course_title=Vested%20Rights,%20Vesting%20Maps%20and%20Development%20Agreements&prgList=LUP&AreaName=Land+Use

 

REMINDER! Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2011.

In January and February 2011 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2011 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting, AB 32 
  • Water Supply Assessments
  • CEQA Litigation: Exemptions, Setting the Baseline, Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extensions
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Agricultural Land Mitigation
  • New General Permit Under Clean Water Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations, Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 11, 2011
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available. 

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2011.

In January and February 2011 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2011 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting, AB 32 
  • Water Supply Assessments
  • CEQA Litigation: Exemptions, Setting the Baseline, Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extensions
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Agricultural Land Mitigation
  • New General Permit Under Clean Water Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations, Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 11, 2011
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available. 

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

Land Use Litigation Traps

By William W. Abbott

While land use litigation is not overly complex, it contains two procedural rules which occasionally trip up project opponents. First, CEQA requires that the petitioner request a hearing within 90 days. Public Resources Code section 21167.4 An oral request is insufficient. Second, if the challenge is to a tentative map approval, the petitioner must also obtain and serve a summons. Government Code section 66499.37. In Torrey Hills Community Coalition v. City of San Diego (2010) ___ Cal.App.4th ____, the appellate court affirmed the action of a trial court dismissing a writ petition on both grounds. With respect to the dismissal of the CEQA claim, the court held that an oral request was insufficient as it was non compliant with the statutory obligation to serve the request on all parties. The Map Act dismissal was more intriguing. Petitioner claimed impossibility as a form of relief, based upon declarations establishing that the San Diego superior court routinely declined to issue a summons in cases involving CEQA writs, a scenario we highlighted in an earlier write up. Notwithstanding the evidence that a summons would not have been issued in the case, the appellate court concluded that the petitioner failed to establish sufficient facts to claim impossibility. The appellate court followed its earlier reasoning as set forth in Friends of Riverside’s Hills v. City of Riverside (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 743, wherein the same court dismissed the related CEQA causes of action, based upon the non compliance with the Subdivision Map Act service rules. While the holding in Friends was published on November 24, 2008, and the 90 day period in Torrey Hills expired on December 15, 2008, there was no evidence that the petitioner had requested a summons between the publication date and end of the 90 day service period and consequently made an inadequate showing of impossibility.

William W. Abbott is a partner at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

2009's Top 10: Legislation, Regulations, & Cases

From the quick fix solutions for the Delta to CEQA analysis on mitigation deferral, impact fees and the feasibility of alternatives, to the scope of the Corps permitting authority, the following legislation, regulations, and cases from 2009 (listed first by type of document, then in chronological order) will have the most impact on water supply, water quality, and land use and entitlement practice (e.g., development) in California in the coming years. And remember, you read it here first!

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A Fair Argument and the Need to Prepare an EIR: A Timeless Tale

By William W. Abbott

In 2001, the County of Inyo adopted an updated General Plan, which included a definition of “net acreage”.  This definition excluded areas devoted to streets, roads and utilities. Over time, staff was concerned with interpretation of this provision as it related to utilities, and in 2005, the Board of Supervisors, based upon a negative declaration, amended the General Plan’s definition of net acreage, deleting the reference to utilities.  The Board then acted to approve three parcel maps, each based upon negative declarations.

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Reminder! Save the Date

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2010!

In January and February 2010 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2010 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting
  • Water Supply Legislation
  • CEQA Litigation: Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extension
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Endangered Species Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations: Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 12, 2010
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available.

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

 

Save the Date!

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2010!

In January and February 2010 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.  In addition, the following hot topics for 2010 will be discussed:

  • Global Warming: CEQA Guidelines, Mandatory Reporting
  • Water Supply Legislation
  • CEQA Litigation: Alternative Analysis & Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
  • Subdivision Map Extension
  • Interpreting Development Agreements
  • Endangered Species Act

Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be presenting its annual program at three California locations: Sacramento, Modesto and Redding. Details for the seminars are below. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you there.

Modesto Conference

  • Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010
  • Location: Double Tree Hotel Modesto, 1150 Ninth Street
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Redding Conference 

  • Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn Redding , 5050 Bechelli Lane
  • Registration: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Program: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sacramento Conference

  • Date: Friday, February 12, 2010
  • Location: Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street
  • Registration: 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. with continental breakfast
  • Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

There is no charge for the programs and MCLE and AICP CM credits are available.

An RSVP will be required as space is limited. To reserve a spot, call our office at (916) 456-9595. When calling, please specify which conference you will be attending.

Sacramento County Bar Association Real Property Law Section

William W. Abbott, partner of Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will be speaking on the following topic on Monday September 14, 2009 at 11:45 a.m.

“Preservation of Local Government Approvals”

Location:

  • The Firehouse Restaurant – Golden Eagle Room
  • 112 Second Street
  • Old Sacramento, California
  • Telephone: (916) 442-4772

Date/Time:    

  • Monday, September 14, 2009 at 11:45 a.m.

How Many Lawyers Does it Take to Extend a Tentative Map?

By William W. Abbott

The Building Industry Association (“BIA”) scored a major success with AB 333, which protects many tentative maps by tacking on an additional statutory life jacket of 24 months. Chapter 18, Statutes of 2009 operates as follows.

 Tentative subdivision maps scheduled to expire before January 1, 2012, are statutorily extended by 24 months. The new extension authorization, Government Code section 66452.22 is in addition to those already provided for by law, listed below:  

 

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Revisiting History Part II: When is a Recorded 1909 Map Not a Subdivision Map?

By William W. Abbott

Adjudicating old subdivision maps is becoming more and more like driving the last nail into a coffin: the patient is dead and we are simply down to the final details.  Blog readers may remember Revisiting History: When is a Recorded 1915 Map Not a Subdivision Map?, which reviewed the holding in Witt Home Ranch, Inc. v. County of Sonoma (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 543, a case in which the First Appellate District concluded, relying on Gardner v. County of Sonoma (2003) 29 Cal.App.4th 990, that a 1915 subdivision map did not meet the grandfather test for prior subdivisions found in Government Code section 66499.30.

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Using the Subdivision Map Act to Void an Unwanted Transaction

By Cori Badgley

Sixells, LLC v. Cannery Business Park (2008) 170 Cal.App.4th 648 reminds buyers and sellers that when entering into a purchase agreement whereby the property must be subdivided, the Subdivision Map Act requires that a parcel map be filed prior to contracting for the sale or the sale must be expressly conditioned upon the approval and filing of a final map. The purchase and sale agreement between Sixells and Cannery Business Park failed to meet these requirements and was therefore void.

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CEQA Practioners Beware: Your Petition Challenging Approval Of A Subdivision Under CEQA May Be Summarily Dismissed If You Don't Comply With The Subdivision Map Act

By Glen Hansen

In Friends of Riverside’s Hills v. City of Riverside (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 743, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District addressed some of procedural traps that can befall unwary litigants who seek to bring CEQA challenges to local land use decisions including subdivision approval.

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Putting The Cart Before the Horse - Developer Cannot Pursue Declaratory Judgment Before City Council Passes Final Housing Ordinance

By Leslie Walker and Nathan Jones

The following case exemplifies that a developer cannot instigate litigation attacking a proposed ordinance until a municipal government has passed the ordinance in question. The matter of Stonehouse Homes, LLC. v. City of Sierra Madre (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 531, more broadly holds that to maintain a declaratory relief action, a plaintiff must be able to demonstrate a present conflict in addition to showing the existence of tangible injury.

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Revisiting History: When is a Recorded 1915 Map Not a Subdivision Map?

By William W. Abbott and Janell M. Bogue

The 2003 California Supreme Court decision of Gardner v. County of Sonoma (2003) 29 Cal.4th 990 left unanswered the status of pre-1929 subdivision maps. The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District in Witt Home Ranch, Inc. v. County of Sonoma (July 29, 2008) 2008 Cal. App. Lexis 1160 has now tackled one aspect of this issue in the context of a 1915 subdivision map.

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Senate Bill 1185: Legislature Puts Time on the Side of Tentative Subdivision and Parcel Maps, But Drafting Error May Trigger Follow-Up Legislation

By Leslie Z. Walker and William W. Abbott

The California Legislature borrowed a trick from California’s last economic downturn to assist struggling homebuilders. On July 15, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 1185 (Chapter 124, Statutes 2008), which, similar to previous legislation passed in the mid 1990's (Gov. Code, §§ 66452.11 and 66452.13) extends the life of approved tentative subdivision maps.

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Old Maps, Re-Subdivision Maps, and Relocated Easements

By William W. Abbott

The Subdivision Map Act (“SMA”) contains a process for re-subdividing all or a part of an existing subdivision.  When that occurs, public easements shown on the prior map are extinguished unless incorporated into the new map. (Gov. Code, § 66499.20 ½.) This sounds like a simple enough concept, but in reality, there is nothing truly simple whenever the facts involve dirt, the SMA and easements.

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Offers of Dedication and Public Acceptance; How Much is Enough and Reconciliation of Common Law Revocation with Express Provisions of the Subdivision Map Act

By William W. Abbott

A common scenario in California counties involves the concurrent recording of a subdivision or parcel map, coupled with the subdivider’s offer of dedication of a road easement to the County. Frequently, the offer to dedicate goes unaccepted by the County. Pursuant to the Subdivision Map Act ("SMA"), this offer remains open and can be accepted by the Board of Supervisors at a later date. Government Code section 66477.2. Official action is not always required for the public to gain rights of use. Roads can also be informally dedicated to the public by public use, the question being, how much public use is required?

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The Development Blues: Property Lies Undeveloped for 30 Years and Counting

By Cori M. Badgley and Kate J. Hart

In an attempt to invalidate or, at a minimum, get damages for the California Coastal Commission’s (“Commission”) denial of a coastal development permit, Charles A. Pratt Construction Co., Inc. (“Pratt”) brought suit against the Commission, claiming that the Commission’s decision violated Pratt’s vested right to develop its property and, in the alternative, if the decision was valid, the Commission committed a regulatory taking by denying the coastal development permit. In Charles A. Pratt Construction Co., Inc. v. California Coastal Commission (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1068, the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District upheld the Commission’s denial of the permit and dismissed Pratt’s regulatory takings claim for lack of ripeness.

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Time Waits for No Map: Strategies to Extend the Life of a Tentative Subdivision Map

By Leslie Z. Walker and William W. Abbott

This article discusses steps that can add life to existing tentative subdivision map approvals until such time as development opportunities improve.

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Conservation Easements and the Subdivision Map Act

By William W. Abbott

The California Attorney General was recently asked whether or not the grant of a conservation easement on a portion of a parcel constituted a “division” for purposes of the Subdivision Map Act. (Government Code, §§ 66410 et seq.) The AG concluded, as many surveyors, local officials and land use attorneys had already determined, that such a conveyance was in fact, not a subdivision. (California Attorney General Opinion 06-801, August 14, 2007.)

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Easements, Exclusive Occupancy and the Subdivision Map Act

By William W. Abbott

When does an easement cross over and become a “division of land” for purposes of the Subdivision Map Act? Apparently, not as frequently as suggested by the California Attorney General and noted California authority.
 

In Blackmore v. Powell (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 1593, the Second Appellate District ruled on the validity of an easement granted between adjacent owners, which provided the grantee with the right to an exclusive easement for ingress and egress as well as the right to construct a garage within the easement area. In Blackmore, a property owner (grantor) granted an exclusive easement to an adjacent owner (grantee). The scope of the easement was for driveway purposes, including the right to build a garage within the easement area. Title to both the benefited and burdened parcels passed to subsequent owners, who then initiated the dispute over the nature and scope of the easement, as it related to the ability to construct and exclusively occupy a garage.

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Appellate Court Cites Exactions and Impact Fees Book

By William W. Abbott

Citing "Exactions and Impact Fees in California" [1], the Third Appellate District ruled that the Subdivision Map Act (Gov. Code, §§ 66410 et seq.) 90-day statute of limitations trumped the longer Mitigation Fee Act (Gov. Code, §§ 66000 et seq.) timeline when reviewing a legal challenge to a subdivision map denial by the City of Chico. The case is Thomas Fogarty v. City of Chico (March 12, 2007) 2007 Cal.App.Lexis 339. Continue Reading...

Contract Language and the Subdivision Map Act

By Janell M. Bogue

The recently decided case of Black Hills Investments, Inc. v. Albertson’s, Inc. (2007) 146 Cal.App.4th 883 illustrates the importance of contract language when selling parcels of land before a valid map has been filed. Continue Reading...

Timing is Everything: The California Supreme Court Says a Newly Incorporated City Can Refuse to Approve a Final Map

By Janell M. Bogue

The California Supreme Court recently held that in specific situations, a newly incorporated city has greater discretion to reject a final map when the tentative map was approved by the county. This case is City of Goleta v. Superior Court of Santa Barbara County (2006) 40 Cal.4th 270.
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Effective January 1, 2007 Notice of Subdivision Map Act Public Hearings Must be Provided to Mineral Rights Holders

By William W. Abbott and Janell M. Bogue

Practitioners need to immediately review public notification status on all pending Subdivision Map Act applications. AB 2867 (Chapter 363, Statutes of 2006), which was effective on January 1, 2007, amends the notice requirements of the Planning and Zoning law. Continue Reading...

The Road Less Traveled, Or In This Case, Not At All

By William W. Abbott

Older subdivision maps create a series of unique considerations. In the case of Wright v. City of Morro Bay (November 7, 2006) 2006 Cal. App. LEXIS 1752, the court wrestled with the status of a mapped but unused road. Property owners Wright and Reddell (“Wright”) owned property in the City of Morro Bay. The property was the subject of an 1888 subdivision (pre-dating California’s first subdivision ordinance, enacted in 1893.) Wright’s property was adjacent to a street (“Jordan Terrace”) shown on the subdivision map. Jordan Terrace had never been used a public street or for any other public purpose. In 1935 however, the City had accepted Jordan Terrace into the City street system. Continue Reading...

Court of Appeal Sheds Light on Moratoria, Phasing and Final Maps

By Kate J. Hart and Janell M. Bogue

In Ailanto Properties, Inc. v. City of Half Moon Bay (August 30, 2006) 2006 Cal. App. Lexis 1317, the First District Court of Appeal held that Government Code section 66452.6 (b)(1) limits the length of any moratorium-related tolling of the expiration of a tentative map to five years, regardless of the length of the moratorium itself. The court further held that when a phased final map does not conform to the requirements of the vesting tentative map ("VTM"), then the filing will not extend the life of the VTM pursuant to Government Code section 66452.6(a)(1) and (d).

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Take Notice!

Mahon v. County of San Mateo (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 812
The "deemed approved" remedy for untimely processing must give heads up to neighbors -- what may be "deemed" is not what it seemed.

By Joel Ellinwood, AICP

Recognizing that the often seemingly interminable delay by local agencies in development permit processing drives up costs of providing housing and other desirable projects, the development industry succeeded in persuading the legislature to impose what at first glance appear to be strict timelines for the agency to approve or disapprove projects. The timelines are given teeth by provisions which may result in projects being "deemed approved" if the agency fails to act within the time provided. However, as the recent case of Mahon v. County of San Mateo (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 812 (modified June 19, 2006) illustrates, the teeth don't seem to have much bite. This article will identify strategies for making the best use of what little bite is left to help manage the pace of development processing.

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Subdivision Map Act: Annual Quartering Exception

by Robert T. Yamachika

The Subdivision Map Act has a long memory. This is what a prospective purchaser of several parcels in Ventura County recently found out in Fishback v. County of Ventura (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 896. This decision is an excellent overview of the arcane world of antiquated subdivisions.

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Municipal Authority to Settle Litigation in Closed Session

by William W. Abbott

How far can a city council go in closed session in settling litigation involving a land use dispute? We have a better idea after reading Trancas Property Owners Association v. City of Malibu (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 1245 (rehearing granted October 26, 2005). In the eyes of the Second District Court of Appeal, the city council cannot (1) contract away the police power (the authority to apply later enacted zoning), and (2) make land use decisions which would otherwise be subject to a public hearing process.

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Appellate Court Reaffirms the Rule that the Rights Attached to an Approved Tentative Map are Limited

by William W. Abbott

In 1990, Terry Parkin, obtained approval of a tentative parcel map for a four lot residential development located in Orange County. The map approval included 37 conditions, some of which pertained to site grading. Sixteen months later, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Foothill/Trabuco Specific Plan ("FTSP"). The FTSP approval included development regulations, and development and design guidelines. In regards to grading, the FTSP development requirements specified that no grading could be approved unless the County first approved a site development permit or use permit.

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