The term final
map refers to the process of dividing property into five or more
parcels (with some exceptions) for purposes of “sale, lease,
or finance.” The most common application is that an individual
wishes to divide their property for sale.
The final map
process has become complex over the years. An early evaluation
by our firm is highly recommended. A review begins by checking
the City or County zoning to make sure that a subdivision is
theoretically possible. In addition to the basic zoning defining
the minimum parcel size and frontage requirements, every City
and County has a laundry list of additional application requirements
and subdivision criteria.
zoning, we typically make a field review of the property to look
for practical or known regulatory problems based on past experience.
Many final maps require that the applicant make road improvements
along the frontage of the property, or even off-site improvements.
Sometimes the cost of road improvements makes the subdivision
prohibitive. If the property is not located on a City or County
maintained public road, it is essential that the property also
have deeded access easements of sufficient width to fully contain
the access roadways. This means that the cut and fill slopes
must also fit in the easement.
If the subdivision
looks feasible after a field review, we typically begin systematically
obtaining any technical studies needed to make a formal application
for the tentative parcel map. In rural areas, septic system feasibility
testing ( percolation and soil mantle) is often the next step.
In Nevada County and in some other jurisdictions, an archaeological
inventory and biological inventory are needed prior to making
application. These studies might identify resource constraints
that have to be protected and avoided during development. Once
any resources are identified, we can usually design resulting
parcels around them.
application also requires submittal of a current preliminary
title report that discloses ownership, financing, and easements
affecting the property. If there is financing on the property,
the lender(s) will probably have to ultimately consent to the
filing of the final parcel map. All of the study information
is placed on a tentative parcel map that is submitted to the
City or County for formal consideration. The tentative map shows
the manner in which we propose to divide the land.
the City or County conducts its own environmental review of the
proposed subdivision and additional studies or information might
be requested. The City or County typically provides copies of
the proposal to its internal departments, the fire agency, and
State agencies like the Department of Fish and Game and Caltrans.
All parties are invited to comment, express any concerns, and
suggest approval conditions. Often, unforseen issues arise and
we will hope to respond to them in a way that maintains the feasibility
of the land division.
The City or
County staff then develops a list of mitigation measures and
conditions of approval that they suggest applying to the approval
of the tentative parcel map. Finally, a public hearing is held,
after placing a legal notice in the newspaper and mailing a notice
to other property owners within 300-500 feet of the subject property.
At the public hearing, usually conducted by the Planning Commission,
the City or County considers the testimony and objections of
any interested persons. Sometimes, additional approval conditions
are crafted at the hearing to address public concerns. Sometimes
the density of the proposed subdivision is reduced as a part
of the process. Some applicants invest the time to talk to their
neighbors before applying for a land division. Other applicants
feel that it would only give neighbors more time to organize
a final map application, it is important to remember that approving
the tentative map is a discretionary action. In other words,
the City or County is not compelled by law to approve the application.
However, we find that most applications are successful, if they
are well thought out and meet all prevailing development standards.
Once the tentative
final map is approved, the City or County issues an approval
letter stating the conditions that must be met prior to recording
of the final parcel map. An approval is usually valid for two
years, and additional extensions of time can be pursued. Typical
conditions include the requirement for a field survey and map,
setting monuments at the new lot corners, installing water storage
or hydrants for fire protection, designing improvements, making
road improvements, paying mitigation fees, and pre-paying taxes.
Most road or other improvements must be designed by a civil engineer
and design must be approved by the City or County, prior to actual
might require that public water or public sewer be extended to
the property if it is available nearby. In many jurisdictions,
it is not mandatory that electrical and telephone service be
extended, at the applicant’s expense. However, from a practical
marketing standpoint, we suggest that these utilities be installed
as a part of a subdivision’s improvements.
require that property taxes be paid a year or more in advance
to avoid problems that might be associated with delinquent taxes
on all or a portion of the land being subdivided. This is not
technically a subdivision cost, but it is a serious cash flow
consideration, so we usually place an allowance for taxes in
Our firm will
assist in satisfying the conditions of approval and we of course,
prepare the survey and map, as well as any engineered plans.
After preparing plans and maps, we usher the plans through agency
map and plan checks, and help obtain clearances from all affected
departments and agencies.
tentative map stage of an application takes at least four to
seven months, and the final map stage takes at least an additional
four to eight months. If construction is required, the processing
sometimes takes longer because the work must be done during the
dry time of the year.
maps, it is usually necessary to obtain a public report from
the California Department of Real Estate prior to the sale of
any parcel. This report is a detailed disclosure document explaining
to buyers exactly what is known about the lots. Most of our clients
work with a title company to obtain the public report. Some work
with consultants specializing in this type of service.
wish to prepare Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s)
to accompany their subdivision. The CC&R’s provide
additional deed restrictions on the lots that are not otherwise
required by the County or City. Such restrictions might set minimum
home sizes, set an architectural theme, prohibit hanging laundry
in the front yard, and include whatever standards are important
to the subdivider. CC&R’s may be prepared by an attorney
or the subdivider might base them on a sample from another project.
If roads are
to be privately maintained, the City or County will require the
recording of a road maintenance agreement to provide for the
on-going maintenance of roads, fire suppression water storage
tanks, and other common utilities. Sometimes the subdivision
forms an official homeowners’ association as a separate
legal entity to administer the CC&R’s and maintenance
agreements. On smaller projects, there is often no homeowners’ association,
but only a working arrangement between lot owners, with some
owners volunteering to help with the administration of project
Once all of
the conditions are met and the final map is recorded, the individual
parcels may be sold separately or used for individual financing.
If you have questions about the subdivision process, please contact
Ken Baker or Andy
Cassano of our firm. We have years of experience with this
type of application and look forward to the possibility of assisting