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California Easements and Boundaries: Law and Litigation

Succeed with this incomparable resource with numerous forms for drafting or litigating easements and related rights.

“I do not often deal with easement problems, and when I do, I am usually surprised by how unsatisfactorily the law is laid out. But no more! Professor French’s presentation in Chapter 1, ‘The Basics,’ is spectacular in its organization and clarity.”
Jim Moses, Banks & Watson, Sacramento

Succeed with this incomparable resource with numerous forms for drafting or litigating easements and related rights.

  • Fully grasp basic easement law and The Restatement
  • Review drought relief laws' effects on water rights
  • Litigate equitable easements and adjacent property rights
  • Draft notices under Good Neighbor Fence Act
  • Master the governing law of road and railroad easements
  • Prepare development, conservation, and utility easements
  • Effectively litigate boundary and neighbor disputes
  • Confidently advise on the role of title insurance
  • Apply public trust doctrine to limit easement rights
  • Understand mineral, water, and airport easements
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“I do not often deal with easement problems, and when I do, I am usually surprised by how unsatisfactorily the law is laid out. But no more! Professor French’s presentation in Chapter 1, ‘The Basics,’ is spectacular in its organization and clarity.”
Jim Moses, Banks & Watson, Sacramento

Succeed with this incomparable resource with numerous forms for drafting or litigating easements and related rights.

  • Fully grasp basic easement law and The Restatement
  • Review drought relief laws' effects on water rights
  • Litigate equitable easements and adjacent property rights
  • Draft notices under Good Neighbor Fence Act
  • Master the governing law of road and railroad easements
  • Prepare development, conservation, and utility easements
  • Effectively litigate boundary and neighbor disputes
  • Confidently advise on the role of title insurance
  • Apply public trust doctrine to limit easement rights
  • Understand mineral, water, and airport easements


Basic Easement Law: California and the Restatement (Third) of Property: Servitudes

Susan F. French

    • A.  Easement Defined  1.1
    • B.  Define and Distinguish: Affirmative Easements, Profits à Prendre, Licenses, Franchises, Leases, and Covenants  1.2
      • 1.  Affirmative Easements  1.3
      • 2.  Profits à Prendre  1.4
      • 3.  Licenses and Franchises  1.5
      • 4.  Leases  1.6
      • 5.  Covenants  1.7
    • C.  Negative Easements and Restrictive Covenants: Functionally Identical But Historically Different  1.8
    • D.  Conservation Easements  1.9
    • E.  Easement Terminology  1.10
    • F.  Sources of California Easement Law  1.11
    • G.  Uses of Easements and Profits  1.12
    • A.  Persons Who May Create Easements
      • 1.  Creator Must Own or Have Power Over Servient Estate  1.14
      • 2.  All Co-owners of Servient Estate Must Join to Create Easement  1.15
      • 3.  An Easement May Be Created to Benefit Any Estate in Land or Another Easement  1.16
      • 4.  Servient Estate Must Be Land  1.17
      • 5.  An Easement May Be Created to Benefit a Third Party  1.18
      • 6.  Restrictions on Creation by Owner of Dominant and Servient Estates  1.19
    • B.  Methods of Creating Easements
      • 1.  Express Creation by Written Instrument  1.20
      • 2.  Oral Grant of Easement  1.21
      • 3.  Estoppel  1.22
      • 4.  Implication  1.23
        • a.  On Basis of Prior Use  1.24
          • (1)  Use Must Be Apparent or Visible  1.25
          • (2)  Underground Utilities  1.26
        • b.  On Basis of Reference to a Map or Boundary  1.27
        • c.  On Basis of Necessity  1.28
          • (1)  Common Ownership  1.29
          • (2)  Degree of Necessity  1.30
          • (3)  Statutory Easement by Necessity for Utilities  1.31
      • 5.  Prescription  1.32
        • a.  Prescriptive Use: Hostile and Adverse Use  1.33
        • b.  Open or Notorious  1.34
        • c.  Continued and Uninterrupted  1.35
        • d.  No Prescription Against Public  1.36
        • e.  Differences Between Adverse Use and Adverse Possession  1.37
          • (1)  Payment of Taxes  1.38
          • (2)  Exclusive Use or Possession  1.39
        • f.  Prescriptive Use: Intended But Imperfectly Created Easement  1.40
        • g.  Preventing Prescription by Recording or Posting Notice  1.41
      • 6.  Dedication and Implied Dedication  1.42
      • 7.  Condemnation and Inverse Condemnation  1.43
      • 8.  Equitable Easements and Balancing Hardships: Judicial Refusal to Enjoin Repeated Trespass  1.44
    • A.  Duration  1.46
    • B.  Determining Whether Benefit Is Appurtenant, in Gross, or Personal  1.47
    • C.  Transferability of Easements  1.48
    • D.  Physical Scope: Location, Relocation, and Dimensions
      • 1.  Initial Location  1.49
      • 2.  Relocation  1.50
      • 3.  Dimensions  1.51
    • E.  Scope of Use; Rights of Servient Owner and Easement Holder  1.52
    • F.  Property That May Be Served by Appurtenant Easement  1.53
    • G.  Repair and Maintenance  1.54
    • A.  Burdens  1.56
    • B.  Appurtenant Benefits  1.57
    • C.  Subdivision of Property Burdened or Benefited by Easement  1.58
      • 1.  Subdivision of Servient Estate  1.59
      • 2.  Subdivision of Dominant Estate  1.60
    • D.  Benefits in Gross
      • 1.  Assignment of Entire Benefits  1.61
      • 2.  Division of Benefits in Gross  1.62
    • A.  Voluntary Modification or Termination  1.64
      • 1.  Release and Abandonment  1.65
      • 2.  Merger  1.66
    • B.  Involuntary Modification and Termination
      • 1.  Easement by Necessity  1.67
      • 2.  Estoppel  1.68
      • 3.  Prescription  1.69
      • 4.  Condemnation  1.70
      • 5.  Recording Act  1.71
    • C.  Judicial Modification and Termination
      • 1.  Changed Conditions; Frustration of Purpose
        • a.  Easements in General  1.72
        • b.  Conservation Easements  1.73
      • 2.  Benefits in Gross  1.74
    • A.  Actions to Establish and Determine Scope of Easements  1.75
    • B.  Actions for Excessive and Unauthorized Uses of Easements  1.76
    • C.  Actions for Unreasonable Interference With Easement  1.77


Development Easements

Neal A. Parish

David L. Preiss

Carolyn J. Stein

Stephen Stwora-Hail

    • A.  Historical Overview  2.2
      • 1.  Statutory Law  2.3
      • 2.  Common Law  2.4
    • B.  Modern Imposition of Restrictions and Obligations  2.5
    • A.  Government-Required Easements  2.6
    • B.  Authority for Government-Required Easements
      • 1.  Constitutional Authority
        • a.  California Constitution and the Police Power  2.7
        • b.  Constitutional Limitations  2.8
      • 2.  Statutory Power
        • a.  Subdivision Map Act
          • (1)  Local Development Conditions  2.9
          • (2)  Tentative and Final Maps  2.10
        • b.  Planning and Zoning Laws  2.11
      • 3.  Agreements and Offers by Developer
        • a.  Development Agreements  2.12
        • b.  Offer of Dedication  2.13
      • 4.  Conditions of Approval  2.14
    • C.  Private Easements  2.15
    • A.  Use  2.17
    • B.  Who Uses; Exclusivity  2.18
    • C.  Location and Relocation  2.19
    • D.  Dimensions  2.20
    • E.  Duration  2.21
    • A.  Streets, Gutters, Curbs, Sidewalks, and Lighting  2.22
    • B.  Utilities  2.23
    • C.  Landscaping  2.24
    • D.  Ingress and Egress; Emergency Vehicle Access
      • 1.  Importance of Ingress and Egress  2.25
      • 2.  Common Areas  2.26
      • 3.  Exclusive-Use Common Areas in Common Interest Developments  2.27
      • 4.  Emergency Vehicle Access  2.28
      • 5.  Access to Recreational Areas  2.28A
    • E.  Parking  2.29
      • 1.  Off-Site Parking  2.30
      • 2.  Reciprocal Parking Rights  2.31
      • 3.  Exclusive Easements  2.32
    • F.  Stormwater Runoff, Drainage, and Retention  2.33
    • G.  Signage  2.34
    • H.  Construction  2.35
    • I.  Side Yards and Setbacks  2.36
    • J.  Negative Easements  2.37
    • K.  Avigation Easements  2.37A
    • L.  Collaborative Land Use Easements  2.37B
    • A.  Public and Private Streets
      • 1.  Responsibility for Maintenance, Repair, and Replacement  2.39
      • 2.  Government Liability to Third Parties  2.40
      • 3.  Developer Liability to Third Parties  2.41
      • 4.  Government’s Rights With Respect to Encroachments  2.42
      • 5.  Government’s Liability to Abutting Owners  2.43
    • B.  Sidewalks and Parkways
      • 1.  Responsibility for Maintenance, Repair, and Replacement  2.44
      • 2.  Liability to Third Parties  2.45
    • C.  Utilities
      • 1.  Utility’s Liability to Third Parties  2.46
      • 2.  Developer’s Liability for Design or Construction Defects  2.47
    • D.  Other Development Easements
      • 1.  Responsibility for Maintenance, Repair, and Replacement  2.48
      • 2.  Government’s Liability to Third Parties for Torts and Nuisance  2.49
      • 3.  Developer’s Liability to Third Parties  2.50
      • 4.  Developer’s Liability to Public Agency  2.51
      • 5.  Easement Holder’s Liability to Owner of Underlying Fee  2.52
      • 6.  Fee Owner’s Liability to Easement Holder  2.53
    • A.  Statutory Authority  2.55
    • B.  Provisions in Grant of Easement
      • 1.  Consideration; Effect of Easement on Property Taxes and Assessments  2.56
      • 2.  Construction, Maintenance, Repair, and Replacement
        • a.  Responsibility and Requirements  2.57
        • b.  Allocation of Costs  2.58
      • 3.  Indemnity  2.59
      • 4.  Insurance  2.60
      • 5.  Damage and Destruction  2.61
      • 6.  Condemnation  2.62
      • 7.  Default and Remedies  2.63
      • 8.  Hazardous Materials  2.64
      • 9.  Miscellaneous Provisions  2.65
        • a.  Termination of Liability  2.66
        • b.  Notices  2.67
        • c.  Term and Termination; Amendments  2.68
    • A.  Reciprocal Easement Agreement
      • 1.  Form: Reciprocal Easement Agreement  2.69
      • 2.  Form: Table of Exhibits (Reciprocal Easement)  2.70
    • B.  Utility and Access Easement Agreement
      • 1.  Form: Utility and Access Easement Agreement  2.71
      • 2.  Form: Table of Exhibits (Utility and Access Easement)  2.72
    • C.  Slope and Drainage Easement Agreement
      • 1.  Form: Slope and Drainage Easement Agreement  2.73
      • 2.  Form: Table of Exhibits (Slope and Drainage Easement)  2.74


Miscellaneous Easements

Edward S. Rusky

Peter Brian Bothel

Laura S. Lowe

David G. Boss

Wendy L. Manley

    • A.  Ownership of Oil, Gas, and Other Minerals  3.2
      • 1.  Separation of Surface and Subsurface Ownership  3.3
      • 2.  No Separation of Surface and Subsurface Ownership  3.4
    • B.  Right of Surface Entry  3.5
    • C.  Mineral Leases  3.6
    • D.  Title Insurance Issues  3.7
    • A.  Types of Water Rights  3.8
    • B.  Ownership of Water in California  3.9
      • 1.  Riparian and Overlying Rights  3.10
      • 2.  Appropriative Rights Doctrine  3.11
    • C.  Statutory Authority
      • 1.  Right to Take Water as Easement or Profit  3.12
      • 2.  Statutory Appropriative Water Rights  3.13
        • a.  Monitoring and Enforcing Appropriative and Other Rights  3.13A
        • b.  Drought Relief Provisions  3.13B
      • 3.  Statutory Groundwater Management  3.13C
        • a.  Groundwater Maintenance  3.13D
        • b.  Coordination With Land Use Planning  3.13E
        • c.  State Intervention to Manage Groundwater Basin  3.13F
        • d.  Action to Determine Rights to Extract Groundwater  3.13G
      • 4.  Authorizing New Water Sources  3.13H
    • D.  Prescriptive Water Rights  3.14
    • E.  Secondary Easements  3.15
    • F.  Title Insurance Issues  3.16
    • A.  Ownership of Timber in California  3.17
    • B.  Secondary Easements Supporting Right to Remove Timber  3.18
    • C.  Title Insurance Issues  3.19
    • A.  California Trust Purpose and Scope; Federal Regulation  3.20
    • B.  Legal Development of Public Trust Doctrine
      • 1.  State Ownership  3.21
      • 2.  State Jurisdiction Over Public Trust Lands; Federal Preemption  3.22
      • 3.  Permit Conditions May Implement Public Trust Doctrine  3.22A
      • 4.  Land Exchanges May Implement Public Trust Doctrine  3.22B
    • C.  Equitable Estoppel Applicable to Public Trust  3.23
    • D.  Public Trust Interest in Private Lands  3.24
    • E.  Private Landowners’ Littoral Rights  3.24A
    • A.  Easement in Gross  3.25
      • 1.  Purpose of Avigation Easement  3.25A
      • 2.  Noise-Sensitive Projects  3.25B
    • B.  Grantors of Avigation Easements  3.26
    • C.  Easement by Condemnation  3.27
    • D.  Easement by Prescription  3.28
    • E.  Regulation of Adjacent Property  3.28A


Construction-Related Agreements

Richard M. Shapiro

    • A.  Distinguish Easement, License, Lease  4.2
    • B.  Common Issues in Temporary Use Construction Agreements  4.3
    • A.  Access and Site Investigation
      • 1.  Preconstruction Access  4.5
      • 2.  Form: Access Agreement  4.6
      • 3.  Documentation and Monitoring of Adjacent Property
        • a.  Inspection; Survey  4.7
        • b.  Form Provision: License to Monitor Adjacent Property  4.8
      • 4.  Easement Agreements for Public Projects
        • a.  Form: Grant of Temporary Construction Easement  4.8A
        • b.  Form: Grant of Public Service Easement  4.8B
        • c.  Form: Grant of Storm Drain Easement  4.8C
        • d.  Form: Grant of Public Pedestrian Access Easement  4.8D
        • e.  Form: Grant of Temporary Emergency Vehicle Access Easement  4.8E
      • 5.  Subordination Agreements for Public Projects
        • a.  Form: Subordination Agreement (From Deed of Trust Beneficiary)  4.8F
        • b.  Form: Subordination and Waiver Agreement (From Lessee)  4.8G
    • B.  Staging and Scaffolding  4.9
    • C.  Other Airspace Rights  4.10
    • D.  Storage  4.11
    • E.  Utilities
      • 1.  Temporary Utilities  4.12
      • 2.  Blanket Easements for Permanent Utilities  4.13
    • F.  Shoring and Tiebacks  4.14
      • 1.  Issues Related Specifically to Tiebacks and Underpinning  4.15
      • 2.  Form: Underpinning and Tieback Agreement  4.16
    • G.  Railroad Right-of-Way Encroachment  4.17
    • H.  Public Property Encroachment
      • 1.  California Law  4.18
      • 2.  Federal Law  4.18A
    • A.  Owner’s Liability at Common Law  4.19
    • B.  Owner’s Liability for Its Contractor’s Activities  4.20
    • C.  Statutory Liability Under Civil Code §832  4.21
      • 1.  Advance Notice Required  4.22
      • 2.  Requirements for Excavations Deeper Than Nine Feet  4.23
      • 3.  Form: Notice of Intended Excavation  4.24
    • A.  Description of Activity Permitted  4.25
    • B.  Parties Related to the Property Burdened  4.26
    • C.  Parties Related to the Property Benefited  4.27
    • D.  Issues Related to Affected Property
      • 1.  Property Description  4.28
      • 2.  Property Condition  4.29
    • E.  Term  4.30
    • F.  Indemnity  4.31
    • G.  Waiver  4.32
    • H.  Insurance
      • 1.  Liability Insurance  4.33
      • 2.  Additional Insureds  4.34
      • 3.  Construction Bonds  4.34A
    • A.  Encroachments  4.35
      • 1.  Remedies for Encroachment  4.36
      • 2.  Statute of Limitations  4.37
    • B.  Remedies for Trespass  4.38
    • C.  Remedies for Nuisance  4.39
    • A.  Private Eminent Domain  4.40
    • B.  Private Necessity  4.41


Utility Easements and Access Rights

Andrew K. Rauch

Jerome F. Candelaria

John Davidson Thomas

Paul A. Werner III

    • A.  Nature of Easement; Methods of Creation  5.1
    • B.  Rights of Easement Holder  5.2
    • C.  Rights of Servient Owner  5.3
    • D.  Limits on Rights to Sue for Electromagnetic Fields
      • 1.  Nature of Claim  5.4
      • 2.  Statutory Limits  5.5
      • 3.  Personal Injury Litigation  5.6
    • A.  Nature of Easement; Methods of Creation  5.7
    • B.  Rights of Easement Holder  5.8
    • C.  Rights of Servient Owner  5.9
    • A.  Franchise Rights Granted by Cities or Counties  5.11
    • B.  Franchise Rights Granted by State to Cities or Counties  5.11A
    • C.  Franchise Rights for Telecommunication Companies  5.12
    • D.  Scope of Franchise Rights; Relocation Obligations  5.13
    • A.  Nature and Use  5.15
    • B.  California Governing Law  5.16
      • 1.  State and Local Law Regarding Rights-of-Way, Franchises, and Easements  5.17
      • 2.  State Pole-Attachment Law  5.18
    • C.  Federal Law Governing Cable Operators  5.19
      • 1.  Federal Cable Franchise Law  5.20
      • 2.  Federal Pole-Attachment Law  5.21
        • a.  Establishment of Regulation by State—Federal “Reverse Preemption”  5.22
        • b.  California Poles, Conduits, and Rights-of-Way Regulated by CPUC  5.23
        • c.  Substantive Areas of Regulation and Regulatory Enforcement: Rates, Terms, and Conditions  5.24
    • A.  Form: Utility Distribution Easement Grant Deed  5.26
    • B.  Form: Joint Use and Easement Relocation Agreement  5.27
    • C.  Form: Drainage and Construction Easement Agreement  5.28
    • D.  Form: Utility Easement Agreement for Underground Transmission of Electricity  5.29


Conservation Easements

James L. Pierce

Jessica Rader

    • A.  Conservation and Greenway Easements Defined  6.1
    • B.  Checklist: Negotiating and Drafting Conservation Easements  6.1A
    • A.  Ecological Values  6.3
    • B.  Open-Space Values  6.4
    • C.  Historic Values and Tribal Cultural Resources  6.5
    • D.  Agricultural Use Values  6.6
      • 1.  Scope of Agricultural Conservation Easement  6.7
      • 2.  Form Provision: Changed Economic Circumstances  6.8
    • E.  Farmland Mitigation Values  6.8A
    • F.  Conversion From Agricultural Use to Solar Energy Use  6.8B
    • G.  Particular Characteristics of Greenway Easements  6.8C
    • A.  Property Owner  6.9
    • B.  Easement Holder  6.10
    • C.  Meeting Grantee’s Criteria for Acceptance  6.11
    • D.  Educating Property Owner  6.12
    • E.  Subsequent Grantees  6.13
    • A.  Types of Available Tax Benefits  6.14
    • B.  Federal Tax Benefits
      • 1.  Income Tax  6.15
        • a.  Deductibility Requirements for Donated Open-Space Easements  6.16
        • b.  Significant Public Benefit of Open-Space Donation  6.17
        • c.  Form Provision: Public Policy Recitals  6.18
      • 2.  Estate Tax  6.19
    • C.  State and Local Tax Benefits
      • 1.  State Income Tax  6.20
      • 2.  Property Tax  6.21
    • A.  Baseline Data  6.22
      • 1.  Need for Baseline Data  6.23
      • 2.  Basic Legal Requirements  6.24
      • 3.  Written Text  6.25
      • 4.  Photographs  6.26
    • B.  Appraisal Requirement
      • 1.  Establishing Value of Easement  6.27
      • 2.  Qualified Appraisals and Appraisers  6.28
    • C.  Title Report  6.29
    • D.  Subordination  6.30
    • E.  Recordation and Notice  6.31
    • A.  Clarity in Easement Language  6.32
    • B.  Funding Costs of Monitoring and Enforcing the Easement  6.33
    • C.  Easement Violations
      • 1.  Communication Between the Parties  6.34
      • 2.  Alternative Dispute Resolution Versus Litigation  6.35
    • D.  Subsequent Landowners  6.36
    • A.  Recitals  6.38
    • B.  Basic Terms  6.39
    • C.  Public Access; Prerequisite to Tax Deductibility  6.40
    • D.  Duration
      • 1.  Perpetual Grant  6.41
      • 2.  Exceptions to Perpetual Grant
        • a.  Easement Turned Fee  6.42
        • b.  Foreclosure by Nonsubordinated Lender  6.43
        • c.  Eminent Domain  6.44
      • 3.  Extinguishment of Easement  6.44A
    • E.  Option to Purchase Perpetual Easement; Temporary Easement  6.45
    • F.  Amending Conservation Easements
      • 1.  General Rule Against Amending  6.46
      • 2.  Reasons to Amend  6.47
      • 3.  How to Amend  6.48
    • A.  Conservation Easement Forms Vary  6.49
    • B.  Form: Grant Deed and Conservation Easement and Agreement  6.50


Road and Railroad Easements

William H. Lynes

David G. Boss

    • A.  Public Benefit  7.1
    • B.  Easement or Fee Estate?  7.2
    • A.  Creation of Street Easements  7.4
      • 1.  Dedication  7.5
        • a.  Dedication Law and Contract Law Compared  7.6
        • b.  Statutory Dedications; Subdivision Map Act  7.7
          • (1)  Express Dedications Under Map Act  7.8
          • (2)  Implied Dedications Under Map Act  7.9
          • (3)  Issues Arising From Statutory Dedications  7.10
        • c.  Common Law Dedications  7.11
        • d.  Acceptance of Maintenance Obligation  7.12
      • 2.  Condemnation  7.13
      • 3.  Purchase and Deed  7.14
      • 4.  Statutory Grant on Federal Land  7.15
        • a.  RS 2477 Roads  7.16
        • b.  Section Line Roads  7.17
      • 5.  Less Common Methods of Creation
        • a.  Roads Dedicated by Government on Proprietary Property  7.18
        • b.  Roads Created by Partition Actions  7.19
    • B.  Transfer of Street Easements
      • 1.  Relinquishment  7.20
      • 2.  Incorporation and Annexation  7.21
    • C.  Determination of Easement or Fee  7.22
      • 1.  Statutory Limitations Defining the Acquired Estate  7.23
        • a.  Estate or Interest Acquired by Deed  7.24
        • b.  Estate or Interest Acquired by Condemnation  7.25
        • c.  Estate or Interest Acquired by Dedication  7.26
      • 2.  Interpretation of Deeds and Decrees  7.27
    • D.  Competing Rights in Street Easements
      • 1.  Before Acceptance  7.28
      • 2.  After Acceptance and Opening  7.29
      • 3.  After Vacating Public Use Easement  7.30
      • 4.  Abutter’s Rights and Access  7.31
    • E.  Scope of Easement: Physical Dimensions and Boundaries  7.32
      • 1.  Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions of Easements  7.33
        • a.  Height of Easement Above Street Surface  7.34
        • b.  Depth of Easement Below Street Surface  7.35
        • c.  Width of Easement  7.36
      • 2.  Ownership Presumed to Center Line of Street  7.37
        • a.  CC §831: Law of Monuments  7.38
        • b.  CC §1112: Law of Appurtenances  7.39
        • c.  CCP §2077: Rules of Construction  7.40
      • 3.  Rebutting Presumption of Ownership to Center Line  7.41
        • a.  Use of Metes and Bounds Description; Fee Title Exception  7.42
        • b.  Marginal Street Doctrine  7.43
        • c.  Tract Maps Excluding Street  7.44
      • 4.  Title Insurance Coverage of Adjoining Streets  7.45
    • F.  Termination of Street Easements  7.46
      • 1.  Nonuse and Adverse Possession  7.47
      • 2.  The Vacation Process  7.48
      • 3.  Challenges to Vacation  7.49
    • A.  Creation of Railroad Easements  7.51
      • 1.  Purchase and Deed  7.52
      • 2.  Condemnation  7.53
      • 3.  Adverse Possession  7.54
      • 4.  Legislative Grant  7.55
        • a.  Congressional Grant  7.56
        • b.  State Lands of California  7.57
    • B.  Transfer of Railroad Easements  7.58
    • C.  Determination of Easement or Fee  7.59
      • 1.  Title Acquired by Deed  7.60
      • 2.  Title Acquired by Condemnation  7.61
      • 3.  Interests Acquired by Adverse Use  7.62
      • 4.  Title Acquired by Legislative Grant  7.63
    • D.  Scope of Railroad Easements: Competing Use Tensions  7.64
      • 1.  Rights of Adjoining Landowners in the Railroad Right-of-Way  7.65
      • 2.  Railroad Grants of Lesser Rights to Third Parties  7.66
      • 3.  Evolution in Uses  7.67
    • E.  Scope of the Railroad Easement: Physical Boundaries  7.68
    • F.  Termination or Interim Use of Railroad Easements  7.69
      • 1.  Government Regulation of Abandonment  7.70
        • a.  Rails to Trails; Interim Use  7.71
        • b.  Special Rules for the Abandonment of Congressional Grant Rights-of-Way  7.72
      • 2.  Termination Under State and Federal Substantive Law  7.73
      • 3.  Posttermination Issues  7.74
        • a.  Subdivision Map Act  7.75
        • b.  Environmental Cleanup Liability  7.76
    • A.  In General  7.77
    • B.  Types and Methods of Creation  7.78
    • C.  Competing Interests of Dominant and Servient Owners  7.79
    • D.  Termination  7.80
    • A.  Classes of Bikeways  7.81
    • B.  Creation and Design of Bikeways  7.82
    • C.  Protecting Persons With Disabilities  7.83


Boundary Easements and Neighboring Property Rights

Laurence L. Hummer

Daniel L. Goodkin

  • I.  CHAPTER SCOPE  8.1
  • II.  PARTY WALLS  8.2
    • A.  History of Party Walls  8.3
    • B.  Created by Agreement or by Law  8.4
      • 1.  Drafting Express Agreements  8.5
      • 2.  Party Wall Rights and Duties Created by Law (Implied Agreements)  8.6
    • C.  Extension of Party Wall  8.7
    • D.  Interpreting Party Wall Agreements  8.8
    • E.  Destruction of Servient Tenement  8.9
    • F.  Party Walls in Condominium Projects  8.10
    • G.  Form: Party Wall Agreement  8.11
    • A.  Statutory Law  8.13
    • B.  Distinction Between Natural and Artificial Conditions  8.14
    • C.  Liability of Upper and Lower Property Owners  8.15
    • D.  Tieback Agreements  8.16
    • E.  Remedial Action by Public Entity to Avoid Impending Peril  8.17
    • F.  Injunctive Relief  8.18
    • G.  Rights Under CC §1002  8.19
    • A.  Identifying Boundary Disputes and Encroachments   8.20
    • B.  Resolving Boundary and Encroachment Disputes
      • 1.  Agreed Boundary Doctrine  8.21
      • 2.  Adverse Possession  8.22
      • 3.  Prescriptive Easement  8.23
      • 4.  Quieting Title  8.23A
      • 5.  Doctrine of Relative Hardships
        • a.  Equitable Easements  8.24
        • b.  Extent of Court’s Discretion  8.25
      • 6.  Good Faith Improver Statute  8.26
      • 7.  Invoking Statute of Limitations  8.27
    • C.  Maintenance of Boundary Fences, Hedges, and Walls
      • 1.  Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013  8.28
      • 2.  Notice of Intention to Incur Costs for Boundary Fence (Good Neighbor Fence Act)  8.28A
      • 3.  Maintenance and Liability Obligations of Easement Holders Distinguished  8.29
      • 4.  Boundary Trees  8.30
    • D.  Spite Fences: State Law and Local Fence and Hedge Law Ordinances   8.31
    • A.  Legal Principles
      • 1.  Encroachment Principles and Characteristics  8.32
      • 2.  License Principles and Characteristics  8.32A
    • B.  Types of Encroachments  8.33
    • C.  Examples of Encroachment and License Agreements  8.34
    • D.  Negotiating and Drafting Encroachment or License Agreements  8.35
    • A.  Coordination Among Property Owners and Public Entities  8.35A
      • 1.  Avoiding Liability Under Subdivision Map Act  8.35B
      • 2.  Local Agency Approval  8.35C
      • 3.  Conservation Areas, Mobilehomes, Manufactured Housing  8.35D
    • B.  Other Approvals and Costs
      • 1.  Lenders Holding Security Interests  8.35E
      • 2.  Survey; Certificate of Compliance  8.35F
    • C.  Delivery and Recordation of Documents  8.35G
    • D.  Samples of Local Forms
      • 1.  Form: Request for Lot Line Adjustment and Certificate of Compliance  8.35H
      • 2.  Form: Lot Line Adjustment Application  8.35I
    • A.  CC&Rs and Local Ordinances  8.37
    • B.  Solar Easements  8.38
    • A.  Easement by Necessity  8.39
    • B.  Easement by Implication  8.40
    • C.  Easements by Eminent Domain  8.41
      • 1.  For Utilities  8.42
      • 2.  For Access to Make Repairs  8.43
    • D.  Easements by Implied Dedication  8.43A
    • A.  Historical Background  8.45
    • B.  Modern View  8.46
    • C.  Drafting Easement Agreements; Recordation  8.47
      • 1.  Recitals; Surveys; Drawings  8.48
      • 2.  Granting Clause for Appurtenant Easement  8.49
        • a.  Exclusive Versus Nonexclusive  8.50
        • b.  Scope  8.51
        • c.  Easement for Parking  8.52
        • d.  Caution Regarding References to “Land”  8.53
      • 3.  Duration
        • a.  Marketable Record Title Act  8.54
        • b.  Covenants Running With the Land  8.55
      • 4.  Subordination; Title Insurance  8.56
    • D.  Drafting License Agreements  8.57
    • E.  Other Provisions of Easement and License Agreements  8.58
    • F.  Easement Agreement
      • 1.  Form: Title and Introductory Paragraph  8.59
      • 2.  Form: Recitals  8.60
      • 3.  Form: Introduction to Provisions of Agreement  8.61
      • 4.  Form: Granting Clause  8.62
      • 5.  Form: General Reservation Clause  8.63
      • 6.  Form: Duration Clause  8.64
      • 7.  Form: Subordination  8.65
      • 8.  Form: Signatures  8.66
    • G.  Form: License Agreement  8.67


Title, Survey, and Title Insurance Issues

Laura S. Lowe

David G. Boss

Peter Brian Bothel

Cynthia K. Long

    • A.  Inspecting Title Documents and Property  9.1
    • B.  Reviewing Preliminary Reports  9.2
      • 1.  Exception Documents  9.3
      • 2.  Easements Burdening the Property  9.4
      • 3.  Easements Benefiting the Property  9.5
        • a.  Access  9.6
        • b.  Utilities  9.7
        • c.  Common Areas  9.8
    • C.  Resolving Problems  9.9
      • 1.  Terminating Easements  9.10
        • a.  Quitclaim Deed  9.11
        • b.  Vacating  9.12
        • c.  Relocating  9.13
        • d.  Abandonment  9.14
      • 2.  Creating Easements  9.15
    • A.  ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Standards  9.16
    • B.  Aerial Surveys  9.17
    • C.  Surveys of Record Easements  9.18
      • 1.  Location  9.19
      • 2.  Dimensions  9.20
      • 3.  Affected Properties  9.21
      • 4.  Conflicting or Concurrent Uses May Be Excepted From Coverage  9.22
      • 5.  Encroachments Onto Easement Area  9.23
    • D.  Surveys May Reveal Unrecorded Easements  9.24
      • 1.  Surveys Showing Evidence of Possession  9.25
      • 2.  Surveys Locating Utilities  9.26
      • 3.  Surveys Locating Driveways, Parking Spaces, Curbs  9.27
      • 4.  Encroachments Onto Property  9.28
    • A.  Constructive Notice; Indexing  9.29
    • B.  Margins for Recordation of Data and Photographic Reproduction  9.30
    • C.  Accurate Identification of Grantor and Grantee  9.31
    • D.  Legibility of Text  9.32
    • E.  Signatures of Grantor and Grantee  9.33
    • F.  Acknowledgment of Signatures  9.34
    • G.  Document in English  9.35
    • A.  Why Title Insurance Is Necessary  9.36
    • B.  Structure of Title Insurance Policies  9.37
    • C.  Common Risks That Cloud Title  9.38
      • 1.  Foreclosure Risk  9.39
      • 2.  Easements Extinguished by Merger  9.40
      • 3.  Vague or Incomplete Legal Descriptions  9.41
    • D.  Insuring Easement Specifically  9.42
    • E.  Scope and Use Disputes Not Insured  9.43
    • F.  Creating Insurable Easement  9.44
    • G.  Commonly Insured Easements  9.45
    • H.  Endorsements That Enhance Coverage for Insured Easements  9.46
      • 1.  Access Endorsements  9.47
      • 2.  Contiguity Endorsements  9.48
      • 3.  Zoning Endorsements  9.49
    • A.  Schedule B Exceptions  9.50
    • B.  Reviewing Easements Excepted From Coverage  9.51
    • C.  Expanding Coverage With Endorsements  9.52
      • 1.  Comprehensive Endorsements  9.53
      • 2.  Other Easement-Related Endorsements  9.54
    • A.  Defense Obligations  9.55
    • B.  Measure of Loss for Easement Claims  9.56


Litigating Easement and Boundary Disputes

David L. Roth

Elizabeth C. Gianola

Jeffrey N. Garland

Jason L. Satterly

    • A.  Instructions to Client to Prepare for Initial Consultation  10.3
    • B.  Conduct of Initial Consultation  10.4
    • C.  Issues to Consider During Initial Consultation  10.5
      • 1.  Early Retention of Experts  10.6
      • 2.  Prevalence of Mistaken Ideas About the Law  10.7
      • 3.  Insurance Coverage  10.8
      • 4.  Handling Client’s Emotional Issues  10.9
    • D.  Options for Resolving Easement and Boundary Disputes  10.10
    • E.  Checklist: Dos and Don’ts in Boundary Location and Encroachment Disputes  10.11
    • A.  Ordinances Governing Construction  10.13
    • B.  Heritage Tree Ordinances  10.14
    • C.  View Ordinances  10.15
    • D.  Ordinance Enforcement  10.16
    • E.  Accessing Municipal Codes  10.17
    • A.  Giving Notice of Claim and Tendering Defense  10.19
    • B.  Differences Between Title Insurance and Other Insurance  10.20
    • C.  Title Insurance  10.21
    • D.  Property Insurance and Liability Insurance  10.22
    • E.  When Insurer Must Investigate or Defend  10.23
    • A.  Site Visit  10.25
    • B.  Surveying  10.26
    • C.  Consultants and Expert Witnesses  10.27
      • 1.  Surveyors  10.28
      • 2.  Appraisers  10.29
      • 3.  Arborists and Other Plant Experts  10.30
      • 4.  Engineering Experts  10.31
    • D.  Title Documents
      • 1.  Title Documents to Obtain  10.32
      • 2.  What to Look for in Title Documents  10.33
    • E.  Photographs, Videos, and Diagrams  10.34
    • F.  Permit Records  10.35
    • G.  Potential Witnesses  10.36
      • 1.  Interviewing Prospective Witnesses  10.37
      • 2.  Securing Witness Statements  10.38
    • H.  Public Records  10.39
    • I.  Online Research  10.40
    • A.  Standard Theories of Recovery
      • 1.  Quiet Title and Declaratory Relief  10.42
      • 2.  Trespass, Nuisance, and Inverse Condemnation  10.43
      • 3.  Breach of Contract  10.44
      • 4.  Negligence; Slander of Title  10.45
      • 5.  Nondisclosure and Misrepresentation  10.45A
    • B.  Lis Pendens  10.46
    • C.  Boundary Dispute and Easement Theories of Recovery
      • 1.  Prescriptive Easements  10.47
      • 2.  Easements by Necessity  10.48
      • 3.  Easement by Implication  10.49
      • 4.  Equitable Easements and the Doctrine of Relative Hardships  10.50
      • 5.  Easements by Agreement  10.51
      • 6.  Agreed Boundary  10.52
      • 7.  Boundary Revisions Under Cullen Earthquake Act  10.52A
      • 8.  Other Legal Theories Establishing Easements  10.53
    • D.  Ownership, Possession, and Occupancy Theories of Recovery
      • 1.  Adverse Possession  10.54
      • 2.  Ejectment  10.55
      • 3.  Forcible Entry and Detainer  10.56
    • E.  Remedies
      • 1.  Judgments and Declarations of Legal Title  10.57
      • 2.  Damages and Specific Performance  10.58
      • 3.  Injunctions  10.59
    • F.  Complaint Forms
      • 1.  Form: Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (to Establish and Enforce Equitable Easement)  10.59A
      • 3.  Form: Verified Complaint: To Quiet Title to Prescriptive Easement; To Quiet Title to Equitable Easement; For Enforcement of Easement Pursuant to CC §809; To Enjoin Private Nuisance; For Declaratory Relief  10.59C
      • 4.  Form: Verified Cross-Complaint: To Quiet Title to Parking Easement on Real Property; For Enforcement of Easement Pursuant to CC §809; To Enjoin Private Nuisance; For Declaratory Relief  10.59D
      • 5.  Other Complaint Forms  10.59E
    • A.  Answers and Dispositive Motions
      • 1.  Tactical and Strategic Decisions  10.61
      • 2.  Affirmative Defenses  10.62
        • a.  Statute of Limitations  10.63
        • b.  Comparative Fault  10.64
        • c.  Other Common Affirmative or Statutory Defenses  10.65
        • d.  Checklist: Defenses to Complaint to Enforce Easement  10.65A
    • B.  The Cross-Complaint: Theories of Recovery  10.66
      • 1.  Termination of an Easement  10.67
      • 2.  Limitation of Easement Right  10.68
      • 3.  Good Faith Improver Statute  10.69
      • 4.  Inverse Condemnation Damages  10.69A
      • 5.  Recovery of Maintenance and Repair Costs  10.70
    • C.  Indemnity Actions Against Third Parties  10.70A
    • A.  Strategies  10.71
      • 1.  Nature of Dispute and Relevant Discovery Topics
        • a.  Disputes Concerning the Location of an Easement or Boundary  10.72
        • b.  Disputes Concerning the Use of an Easement  10.73
        • c.  Disputed Encroachments  10.74
      • 2.  Objectives and Special Considerations  10.75
      • 3.  Discovery Methods
        • a.  Informal Discovery Methods  10.76
          • (1)  Documents  10.77
          • (2)  Expert Consultation  10.78
          • (3)  Site Visits; Informal Versus Formal Discovery  10.79
        • b.  Formal Discovery Methods  10.80
          • (1)  Demands for the Inspection and Copying of Documents, Land, and Other Tangible Things  10.81
          • (2)  Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories, and Depositions  10.82
    • A.  Types of Agreements Commonly Used to Settle Easement and Boundary Disputes
      • 1.  Easement Agreements  10.84
      • 2.  Encroachment and License Agreements  10.85
      • 3.  Party Wall Agreements  10.86
      • 4.  Maintenance Agreements  10.87
      • 5.  Voluntary Lot Line Adjustments  10.87A
      • 6.  Subdivisions; Common Interest Developments  10.88
      • 7.  General Considerations  10.89
    • B.  Financial and Insurance Considerations  10.90
    • C.  Mediation  10.91
    • D.  Third Parties  10.92
    • A.  Jury or Bench Trial  10.93
    • B.  Pretrial Motions and Stipulations  10.94
    • C.  Judgments  10.95
    • D.  Attorney Fees and Costs; Effect of CCP §998  10.96
    • E.  Interest on Damages Awarded  10.97


(1st Edition)

August 2019



File Name

Book Section



Chapter 2

Development Easements



Reciprocal Easement Agreement



Table of Exhibits (Reciprocal Easement)



Utility and Access Easement Agreement



Table of Exhibits (Utility and Access Easement)



Slope and Drainage Easement Agreement



Table of Exhibits (Slope and Drainage Easement)


Chapter 4

Construction-Related Agreements



Access Agreement



Form Provision: License to Monitor Adjacent Property



Grant of Temporary Construction Easement



Grant of Public Service Easement



Grant of Storm Drain Easement



Grant of Public Pedestrian Access Easement



Grant of Temporary Emergency Vehicle Access Easement



Subordination Agreement (From Deed of Trust Beneficiary)



Subordination and Waiver Agreement (From Lessee)



Underpinning and Tieback Agreement



Notice of Intended Excavation


Chapter 5

Utility Easements and Access Rights



Drafting Utility Easements; Additional Clauses



Utility Distribution Easement Grant Deed



Joint Use and Easement Relocation Agreement



Drainage and Construction Easement Agreement



Utility Easement Agreement for Underground Transmission of Electricity


Chapter 6

Conservation Easements



Checklist: Negotiating and Drafting Conservation Easements



Form Provision: Changed Economic Circumstances



Form Provision: Public Policy Recitals



Grant Deed and Conservation Easement and Agreement


Chapter 8

Boundary Easements and Neighboring Property Rights



Party Wall Agreement



Notice of Intention to Incur Costs for Boundary Fence (Good Neighbor Fence Act)



Title and Introductory Paragraph






Introduction to Provisions of Agreement



Granting Clause



General Reservation Clause



Duration Clause









License Agreement


Chapter 10

Litigating Easement and Boundary Disputes



Checklist: Dos and Don’ts in Boundary Location and Encroachment Disputes



Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (to Establish and Enforce Equitable Easement)



Form: Multitheory Complaint For Fraud And Alternative Remedies



Verified Complaint: To Quiet Title to Prescriptive Easement; To Quiet Title to Equitable Easement; For Enforcement of Easement Pursuant to CC §809; To Enjoin Private Nuisance; For Declaratory Relief



Verified Cross-Complaint: To Quiet Title to Parking Easement on Real Property; For Enforcement of Easement Pursuant to CC §809; To Enjoin Private Nuisance; For Declaratory Relief



Checklist: Defenses to Complaint to Enforce Easement


Selected Developments

August 2020 Update

Supreme Court Cases. In Knick v Township of Scott (2019) ___ US __, 139 S Ct 2162, 2167, the United States Supreme Court held that a property owner may bring a taking claim in federal court under 42 USC §1983 without first bringing an inverse condemnation action in state court. See §§1.43, 10.69A.

Owners of property containing (or adjacent to) “waters of the United States” risk substantial criminal and civil penalties for activities causing a discharge of fill material into such waters without a permit. In Hawaii Wildlife Fund v County of Maui (2020) ___ US ___, 140 S Ct 1462, the United States Supreme Court held that federal permits are required for discharges to groundwater that will ultimately reach “waters of the United States” if the addition of the pollutants through groundwater is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge from the point source into navigable waters. See §3.20.

In Scholes v Lambirth Trucking Co. (2020) 8 C5th 1094, the California Supreme Court held that the 5-year statute of limitations and heightened damages provisions of CC §3346 do not apply to injuries to timber caused by negligently set fires; they apply primarily to “timber trespass,” the kind of direct, intentional injury to trees on the property of another that would be perpetrated by actions such as deliberately cutting down a neighbor’s trees. See §§8.30, 10.63.

Pending before the California Supreme Court is Weiss v People ex rel Dep’t of Transp. (review granted June 13, 2018, S248141; superseded opinion at 20 CA5th 1156) (court of appeal upheld owners’ claim that sound wall along freeway increased impact of noise, vibration, glare, and dust on their properties, obstructed their ocean views, interfered with enjoyment of their properties, and diminished property values). See §10.43.

Profits à Prendre and Licenses. The owner of subsurface rights in real property does not own the oil and gas that may lie beneath the land’s surface; instead, that fee owner holds a “profit à prendre,” or right to extract that oil and gas from the ground. Leiper v Gallegos (2019) 42 CA5th 394, cited in §§1.4, 3.2, 3.3.

An unrecorded irrevocable license does not bind a subsequent purchaser of the property burdened by the license if the purchaser has no actual or constructive notice of the license. See Gamerberg v 3000 E. 11th St., LLC (2020) 44 CA5th 424 (involving unrecorded right to use parking spaces). See §§1.5, 1.71, 10.85.

Equitable and Prescriptive Easements. Civil Code §1009 prevents use of private property, other than coastal property as defined in the statute, by members of the public for recreational purposes from ripening into prescriptive rights. But §1009 does not prevent a landowner from acquiring an appurtenant easement over neighboring land for access to a state park. Ditzian v Unger (2019) 31 CA5th 738. See §§1.32, 7.11, 8.43A, 10.47.

In California, the legal foundation for establishing an easement by prescription is entirely in the common law. Adverse use by the servient owner for 5 years, however, may terminate a private easement or right-of-way. In McLear-Gary v Scott (2018) 25 CA5th 145, a quiet title cause of action alleged that the plaintiff acquired a prescriptive easement, and the defendants’ affirmative defense alleged that plaintiff’s adverse use of a road over defendants’ property was interrupted and barred by defendants’ maintenance of a locked gate on the road that prevented plaintiff’s use for 5 continuous years. This defense did not succeed, because the defendants failed to timely pay taxes, an essential element of adverse possession. See §§1.38, 1.69, 8.22–8.23, 10.42, 10.47, 10.49, 10.65A.

A court decree establishing an equitable easement must be based on the court’s balancing of the hardships to all parties, and the underlying trespass or encroachment must not be willful or negligent. Hansen v Sandridge Partners, L.P. (2018) 22 CA5th 1020, 1029 (defendants knew there was lot line uncertainty before they planted pistachio trees and installed drip irrigation system; also, court refused to decree prescriptive easement). See §§1.39, 1.44, 8.23–8.24, 10.47, 10.50.

Water Rights and Public Trust Doctrine. Substantial revisions were made in §§3.8–3.22B to clarify California water acquisition and enforcement rights, including the public trust doctrine. For example, although water rights in California are subject to (1) the prohibition against waste and unreasonable use and (2) the use policy declared in Wat C §106, water rights are also subject to the public trust doctrine, except for groundwater that is not interconnected with navigable surface waters. See additional authorities explaining this exception in §3.8.

The discussion of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and the power of local agencies to adopt and implement groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) was substantially revised and expanded to explain in detail the functions of the GSPs and the broad authority of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies to achieve the SGMA’s goals. See §3.13D.

The California Coastal Act of 1976 (Coastal Act) (Pub Res C §§30000–30900) recognizes the public’s right to use tidelands and trust waters for recreational purposes and comprehensively provides a process for ensuring public access. See, e.g., Greene v California Coastal Comm’n (2019) 40 CA5th 1227 (upheld Coastal Commission's permit condition that property owners set back their construction of proposed duplex remodeling five feet from seaward property line because owners’ proposal would effectively privatize public beach in violation of Coastal Act’s access policy), cited in §§3.20, 3.22A.

Under President Trump’s Executive Order No. 13778 (Feb. 28, 2017) directing federal agencies to reconsider the narrower interpretation of “waters of the United States” under the Rapanos decision, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers finalized a revised definition of “waters of the United States,” which was achieved in 2020 under a two-step process, described in §3.20.

Construction, Access, and Utility Easements; Liability Issues. The grant of an easement for electric power lines over an area defined by metes and bounds description that also granted “free access” to the electrical facilities created a second floating easement, whose location became fixed by the grantee’s actual use. Southern Cal. Edison Co. v Severns (2019) 39 CA5th 815. See §§1.49–1.50, 5.3.

Even though the responsibility for maintaining sidewalks rests with the abutting landowner, the owner ordinarily is not liable to third parties for injuries caused by the sidewalk’s condition. The statutory duty to repair and maintain the sidewalk is owed to the government, unless the owner has caused a dangerous condition. For example, not all sidewalk defects or height differentials between adjacent concrete panels are “dangerous conditions” and may be trivial as a matter of law. Huckey v Temecula (2019) 37 CA5th 1092. See §2.45.

The Underpinning and Tieback Agreement form was updated and revised to add provisions that more definitively describe the right to enter and the duration of that right. See §4.16.

If the duration of a tieback agreement or a right granted in the agreement is defined by the occurrence of an event or completion of an activity, and the event or activity is delayed by causes not under the user’s control, such as interruption of electric service or pandemic shelter-in-place orders, then even in the absence of an explicit force majeure provision in the agreement creating the use right, it may be possible to assert provisions of CC §1511 as a defense to a claim for unlawful detainer or an injunction seeking cessation of the use. See §4.30.

Under the Communications Act of 1934, franchised cable operators receive access to public rights-of-way “within the area to be served by the cable system and which have been dedicated for compatible uses” for purposes of constructing cable systems. 47 USC §541(a)(2). Compatible uses include, for example, a “telecom cable” when the initial dedication was for “electric transmission.” West v Louisville Gas & Elec. Co. (7th Cir 2020) 951 F3d 827. See §5.19.

Because a privately owned public utility company has the power of eminent domain necessary for the construction and maintenance of its utility plants and transmission of utility services, it may be subject to an inverse condemnation claim when it causes injury to another utility company’s property or to adjacent private land in the course of maintaining its transmission facilities or providing utility services to the public. See In re PG&E Corp. (Bankr ND Cal 2019) 611 BR 110 (noting that California Supreme Court has not ruled on this issue and allowing claims to proceed for injury caused by wildfires under California court of appeal rulings). See §10.43.

Conservation Easements and Deductibility. On the adequacy of conservation easements as mitigation measures under the California Environmental Quality Act, when, for example, agricultural land is converted, see King & Gardiner Farms, LLC v County of Kern (2020) 45 CA5th 814, 875 (entering into binding agricultural conservation easement does not create new agricultural land to replace agricultural land being converted to other uses; easement does not offset loss of agricultural land (in whole or in part), which means environmental impact would remain significant). See §6.1.

The application of CEQA to certain conservation easements may be limited by exemptions for public agency transactions described in Pub Res C §21080.28, which became effective January 1, 2020. See §6.1.

The Checklist: Negotiating and Drafting Conservation Easements, in §6.1A was updated to assist practitioners in negotiating and preparing tax-qualified conservation easements.

In 2011, the legislature created a mechanism for converting Williamson Act conservation contracts to solar-use easements under certain considerations. But on January 1, 2020, former Govt C §51255.1 was repealed by operation of law. As of the writing of this 2020 update, there is no pending legislation to address this process gap. See §6.8B.

The Internal Revenue Service continues to scrutinize conservation easement contributions, and the courts have upheld the IRS’s disallowances of the tax deduction. See, e.g., Hoffman Props. II, LP v Commissioner (6th Cir 2020) 956 F3d 832 (affirmed tax court’s decision that donation of easement in façade of historic building did not satisfy perpetuity requirement); Coal Prop. Holdings, LLC v Commissioner (2019) 153 TC 126 (conservation easement deed was not in perpetuity, because in event of judicial extinguishment of easement, proportionate value was improperly reduced by amounts paid to satisfy prior claims against donor and amounts attributable to appreciation in value of improvements existing when easement was granted). See §6.15.

To qualify for a tax deduction, an easement area must be an identifiable specific piece of real property to be considered a “qualified real property interest” under §170(h)(2)(C). Compare, e.g., BC Ranch II, L.P. v Commissioner (5th Cir 2017) 867 F3d 547 with Pine Mountain Preserve v Commissioner (2018) 151 TC 247 (refused to follow BC Ranch II in interpreting similar easement provisions); See also Nathaniel A. Carter, TC Memo 2020–21, all discussed in the Practice Tip in §6.15.

In §6.36, easement drafting strategies were added that address how to provide for transfer fees to ensure compliance with CC §1098.6(a). Easement holders will need to be cognizant of how they manage transfer fees so that they comply with 12 CFR §1228.1. See also revisions to conservation easement agreement in §6.50 for addressing compliance with CC §1098.6.

In the absence of case law deciding whether conservation easements would merge with the fee in the event the easement holder acquires the fee, some easements provide that the interests can never merge. See Warning in §6.42.

Street, Trail, and Road Easements. Recent cases decided the applicability of statutory immunities for California public entities under the state Government Claims Act. See, e.g., Loeb v County of San Diego (2019) 43 CA5th 421 (immunity under Govt C §831.4 applies to pathway partially used for recreational purposes in addition to restroom access); Lee v Department of Parks & Recreation (2019) 38 CA5th 206 (campground pedestrian’s premises liability suit against state failed because immunity under §831.4 protected state). See §§2.49, 8.29.

The Tenth Circuit decided which public interest groups have a right to intervene in RS 2477 of the Revised Statutes litigation over interests in federally created rights-of-way in roads. See Kane County v U.S. (10th Cir 2020) 950 F3d 1323, cited in §7.16.

The calculation of damages for a taking under 16 USC §1247(d) depends not on the status of the land at the time of the Notice of Interim Trail Use (NITU) but on what interest the owner would have had in the absence of the NITU. That determination is made by applying state law easement principles. See, e.g., Castillo v Diaz (Fed Cir 2020) 952 F3d 1311 (application of centerline presumption under Florida law means that subsequent deeds to subdivision parcels did not grant ownership of land in railroad corridor), cited in §7.71.

The California Department of Transportation (DOT), in cooperation with county and city governments, must establish and update minimum safety design criteria for the planning and construction of bikeways. Its most recent Design Information Bulletin was issued in May 2018. See §7.82.

Litigation of Easements, Encroachments, and Neighboring Property Rights. Unless a homeowners association has the power to grant easements over streets in the community that are owned by individual homeowners, its grant of an easement to use the streets is not effective as to the rights of homeowners. The homeowners must be joined in any action to quiet title to the purported easement. See, e.g., Ranch at the Falls LLC v O’Neal (2019) 38 CA5th 155 (which also rejected plaintiff’s claims for prescriptive and equitable easements). See §§1.14, 1.44, 8.23, 8.48, 10.47, 10.50.

A court of appeal rejected an inverse condemnation action for damage to a private residence during a flood in Ruiz v County of San Diego (2020) 47 CA5th 504, which held that no implied acceptance of a privately owned drainage pipe occurred by its use as part of a public area drainage system; the county had expressly rejected an offer to dedicate and did not exercise dominion or control over the pipe located on private property. See §§1.42–1.43, 2.48, 10.69A.

In the absence of detailed arrangements between the parties to the easement, it is assumed that they are intended to exercise their respective rights and privileges by mutual accommodation. The servient owner, for example, may be liable for unreasonably interfering with the easement. Inzana v Turlock Irrigation Dist. Bd. of Directors (2019) 35 CA5th 429 (irrigation district entitled to terminate water deliveries to servient owner who unreasonably interfered with district’s easement; tree removal order justified on basis that trees would eventually interfere with access to pipeline and damage the pipe). See §§1.52, 1.77, 10.59.

Whether a trespass claim is barred by the 3-year statute of limitations (CCP §338(b)) depends on whether the trespass is permanent or continuing. A trespass is continuing if it can be remedied at a reasonable cost and by reasonable means. See Madani v Rabinowitz (2020) 45 CA5th 602 (cause of action based on encroaching fence was continuing trespass because cost of moving it would be only $5000 to $6000 and thus was not barred by statute of limitations), discussed in §§1.76, 8.20, 10.63.

Holders of private street, railroad, or other right-of-way easements may be subject to liability for injuries to third parties suffered on such easements. But easement holders are liable only if the injury is somehow related to the control they have over the easement. See Soto v Union Pac. R.R. (2020) 45 CA5th 168 (railroad company holding right-of-way easement had no duty to make area safe, because it did not own, possess, or control railroad crossing). See §§2.41, 8.29.

There is a split among the courts of appeal on the interpretation of negative easements, contained in covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) for modern tract developments, that are intended to preserve view, light, and air. A recent court of appeal declined to follow earlier cases and held that a view easement contained in CC&Rs should not be construed to require that the conduct of the defendant be “unreasonable” to support a finding that the defendant violated the easement. See Eisen v Tavangarian (2019) 36 CA5th 626 (declined to follow Zabrucky case and did not interpret CC&Rs to require that conduct of defendant be “unreasonable” to be actionable, when that language did not appear in CC&Rs). See §§8.37, 10.53.

Courts do not issue advisory opinions. Prospective interference with a prescriptive easement is speculative and courts will not address the issue in the absence of any evidence of a current controversy. City of Santa Maria v Adam (Santa Maria III) (2019) 43 CA5th 152, 161. See §§10.65, 10.65A.

Complaints in court actions to enforce easement rights are subject to a panoply of statutory, equitable, and factual defenses; some of the most common are listed in the newly revised defenses’ checklist in §10.65A.

The California anti-SLAPP statute authorizes a person to file a special motion to strike a cause of action arising from any act of that person “in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution” that is made “in connection with a public issue.” CCP §425.16(b)(1). In a case arising from an existing driveway easement, Starview Prop. LLC v Lee (2019) 41 CA5th 203, the court of appeal remanded the matter for the trial court to consider on the merits of the anti-SLAPP motion that it had denied as untimely. See §10.65B.

Since January 1, 2019, an attorney representing a client participating in a mediation or a mediation consultation must, before the client agrees to participate in the process, provide the client with a printed disclosure containing the confidentiality restrictions described in Evid C §1119 and obtain a printed acknowledgment signed by the client stating that he or she has read and understands the restrictions. A new Judicial Council form for this requirement is in Mediation Disclosure Notification and Acknowledgment (Judicial Council Form ADR–200). See §10.91.

For a newly added form settlement agreement among neighboring property owners that can be adapted to resolve disputes about the use and scope of existing recorded easement grants, see §10.92A. For discussion of specific terms that might be needed for this type of agreement, see §§10.84–10.92.

Under CCP §1021.9, a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to an award of attorney fees in an action to recover damages to property resulting from trespass on lands under cultivation or used for grazing. See Kelly v House (2020) 47 CA5th 384 (in action for trespass, court of appeal concluded trial court erred in failing to award statutory attorney fees under §1021.9). See §10.96.

About the Authors

DAVID G. BOSS, coauthor of chapters 3, 7, and 9, is the founder and Principal of The Boss Law Firm, APLC, San Diego. He represents title insurers and developers in real estate matters and has provided legal counsel to title insurers in connection with the coverage for, and resolution of, numerous title insurance claims as well as the underwriting of title insurance transactions involving residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and publicly owned or managed lands. Mr. Boss received his B.A. degree from the University of California (Los Angeles) in Economics in 1981 and his J.D. degree from the University of San Diego Law School in 1984.

PETER BRIAN BOTHEL, coauthor of chapters 3 and 9, was a senior associate with the firm of Cassidy, Shimko & Dawson, San Francisco. Now deceased, Mr. Bothel practiced in the real property law areas of acquisitions and financing, commercial leasing, and other real estate transactions. He also had experience in real estate litigation, title issues, title insurance coverage and escrow, foreclosures, and easements. Mr. Bothel received his J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1977 and his B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois, in 1974.

JEROME F. CANDELARIA, coauthor of chapter 5, is Vice President & Counsel, Regulatory Affairs, California Cable & Telecommunications Association, Sacramento. He represents the cable industry on regulatory matters before the FCC, CPUC, and other state agencies. He currently serves as the national cable industry representative on the FCC’s North American Numbering Council and is the Vice-Chair of the State Emergency Communications Committee. Mr. Candelaria received his B.A. in 1986 from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. in 1989 from Harvard Law School.

SUSAN F. FRENCH, author of chapter 1, assisted in the planning of this book and is an emerita member of the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. She was the Reporter for the Restatement (Third) of the Law of Property, Servitudes (2000) and is coauthor of casebooks in Property and Community Association Law (common interest communities). Professor French taught Property, Trusts & Wills, and Community Association Law, and has published in all three fields. She received her A.B. from Stanford University in 1964 and her J.D. from the University of Washington in 1967.

JEFFREY N. GARLAND, coauthor of chapter 10, is senior counsel with Hilbert & Satterly, LLP, San Diego. He specializes in all aspects of real estate and business litigation, from inception through appeal, including an extensive title insurance practice. He has served as a court-appointed special master and as a mediator. Mr. Garland received his B.A. in 1971 from United States International University and his J.D. (magna cum laude) in 1974 from the University of San Diego Law School, where he was Lead Article Editor of the San Diego Law Review.

ELIZABETH C. GIANOLA, coauthor of chapter 10, is a shareholder of Horan Lloyd, PC, Carmel. She specializes in real property and commercial litigation before both state and federal courts. She is past Vice Chair of the Executive Committee, Real Property Law Section of the California Lawyers Association. Ms. Gianola received her B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and her Ph.D. in law from the Sorbonne.

DANIEL L. GOODKIN, coauthor of chapter 8, and founding partner of Goodkin & Lynch LLP, Los Angeles, is a real estate and construction litigator and has tried multiple cases involving easements and boundary disputes. He also litigates and is a frequent speaker on lien laws, title issues, real property purchase and sale agreements, landlord-tenant issues, mold litigation, and indoor air quality issues. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Real Estate Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and also served as a Judge Pro Tem for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Mr. Goodkin received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

LAURENCE L. HUMMER, coauthor of chapter 8, assisted in the planning of this book and is a sole practitioner in Los Angeles. His practice focuses on civil litigation and on commercial and residential real estate transactions. He has tried cases involving real property purchase and sale agreements; construction contracts, delays, and defects; quiet title to real estate; commercial landlord-tenant disputes; neighborhood height limitations and view restrictions; and contamination of industrial property and groundwater. He has resolved many real estate boundary, easement, and encroachment disputes for businesses and homeowners. Mr. Hummer received his A.B. in 1973 from Stanford University and his J.D. in 1980 from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

CYNTHIA K. LONG, coauthor of chapter 9, was formerly a partner in Bothel & Long, San Francisco, and is Senior Vice-President and Regional Counsel for Old Republic Title Company in San Francisco. She specializes in real property litigation. She is a speaker for CEB real property law programs and has contributed to other CEB real property litigation publications. Ms. Long received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her J.D. in 1979 from Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco.

LAURA S. LOWE, coauthor of chapters 3 and 9, assisted in the planning of this book and is currently Senior Counsel with Old Republic Title Company in San Francisco. She formerly worked as the West Region Agency Counsel for LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc., the parent company for Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation. Ms. Lowe has presented programs for CEB and the California Lawyers Association’s Real Property Section. Ms. Lowe graduated from University of San Francisco School of Law in 1982 and received her B.S. in 1974 from Ohio State University.

WILLIAM H. LYNES, original author of chapter 7, and annual update author through 2017, is Vice President and Commercial Counsel with Chicago Title Insurance Company, Los Angeles, and has been an attorney with Chicago Title and its predecessor Ticor Title Insurance Company of California since 1986. He acts as underwriting counsel on commercial and industrial transactions and on railroad and other specialty title transactions. Mr. Lynes received his B.A. in 1972 from St. Lawrence University, and his J.D. in 1976 from the University of San Fernando Valley College of Law.

NEAL A. PARISH, principal coauthor of chapter 2, specializes in real estate, land use, and public agency law at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP, Oakland. For private industry and individual clients, he negotiates and analyzes real estate contracts, including leases, purchase and sale contracts, subdivision documents including CC&Rs, and easements. He also assists a variety of clients with land use and permitting issues. He served as chair of the City of Oakland Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board. Mr. Parish received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, his Master of City Planning and his M.S., Transportation Engineering, from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

JAMES L. PIERCE, original author of chapter 6, and annual update author through 2015, serves as Senior Staff Counsel in the California Department of Conservation, Sacramento. He formerly worked in the California Attorney General’s Office, as a sole practitioner in Mt. Shasta, and as Staff Counsel to the California State Coastal Conservancy in Oakland. He specializes in land use and conservation, real property, environmental, and public agency law. Mr. Pierce received his B.M. in 1984 from San Francisco State University, his M.M. in 1985 from Northwestern University, and his J.D. in 1991 from University of San Francisco School of Law. Any statements in chapter 6 are solely the personal statements of the author and do not reflect the views of any governmental agency or official, including, but not limited to, the California Department of Conservation.

DAVID L. PREISS, coauthor of chapter 2, assisted in the planning of this book and is a partner with Holland & Knight LLP, San Francisco, specializing in land use, real estate, and surface mining issues, as well as real estate development and transactions. He was a contributing author on CEB leasing and development books and frequently lectures on land use and development law. Mr. Preiss obtained his B.A. in 1977 from Williams College and his J.D. in 1982 from the University of California, Davis, School of Law.

ANDREW K. RAUCH, coauthor of chapter 5, assisted in the planning of this book and is the principal of Andrew Rauch, APC, San Diego, specializing in eminent domain, agriculture law, and real estate litigation. Earlier in his career he worked for the California Department of Transportation, handling tort defense, eminent domain matters, and real estate transactions. He is a member of the California Lawyers Association’s Real Property Law Section and the International Right-of-Way Association. Mr. Rauch received his B.S. from Brigham Young University in 1984, and his J.D. from Lincoln Law School, Sacramento, in 1988.

DAVID L. ROTH, coauthor of chapter 10, assisted in the planning of this book, was the principal of The Real Estate Law Offices of David L. Roth, Oakland, and specialized in real estate litigation and transactions. Now deceased, he served as an executive editor of the California Real Property Journal, the quarterly publication of the Real Property Section of the California Lawyers Association, was a chair of the Alameda County Bar Association Real Estate Section, and gave programs for attorney and legal professional groups on real estate topics. Mr. Roth received his B.A. in 1975 from Occidental College and his J.D. in 1978 from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

EDWARD S. RUSKY, coauthor of chapter 3, is currently Senior National Underwriting Counsel for the National Commercial Services Department of First American Title Insurance Company, San Francisco. He specializes in underwriting and closing complex, high-liability, multisite commercial transactions for national clients. Mr. Rusky received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 1971; he was admitted to the California and Federal Bars in 1972.

JASON L. SATTERLY, coauthor of chapter 10, is a partner in Hilbert & Satterly, LLP, San Diego. He specializes in real estate and business litigation and title insurance law, representing title insurance underwriters, title companies, escrow companies, financial institutions, and loan servicers. He was a member of the CEB’s Young Lawyer Advisory Panel and a recipient of the Wiley M. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services. Mr. Satterly received two B.A.s in 2001 from Eastern Kentucky University (magna cum laude) and his J.D. in 2005 from Thomas Jefferson School of Law (magna cum laude), where he was a Literary Editor for the Thomas Jefferson Law Review.

RICHARD M. SHAPIRO, author of chapter 4, is a partner in Farella Braun & Martel LLP, San Francisco. He specializes in real estate and construction transactions, representing owners, contractors, and design professionals. He has prepared and negotiated reciprocal easement agreements, commercial condominium documents, management, and real estate brokerage agreements. He received his a B.A. from Antioch College in 1969; his M. Arch. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1973; and his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1979. He is a California registered architect.

CAROLYN J. STEIN, coauthor of chapter 2, was most recently a Deputy City Attorney with the Real Estate and Finance Team in the Office of the City Attorney of San Francisco. She was formerly a real estate attorney with Shorenstein Company and with Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP, Oakland. She is a member of the California Lawyers Association’s Real Property Section and has been a contributing writer, editor, and planner for CEB commercial leasing books. Ms. Stein received her B.A. from California State University, East Bay, and her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

STEPHEN STWORA-HAIL, coauthor of chapter 2, assisted in the planning of this book and was a member of the Advisory Committee of CEB’s Real Property Practice Group. He is a partner at Cohen Durrett, LLP, Sacramento. In his transactional practice, he represents commercial developers of retail, office, industrial, warehousing, and residential projects with the acquisition, land use, development, construction and leasing of their properties, as well as the CC&Rs and reciprocal easement agreements for the shopping centers in which they are located. He also has negotiated agricultural, utility, and conservation easements. Mr. Stwora-Hail received his B.A. degree from the University of Chicago and his J.D. from Santa Clara University.

JOHN DAVIDSON THOMAS, coauthor of chapter 5, was a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells LLP and has a national practice in the telecommunications and broadband communications industries. His practice focuses on the deployment of competitive networks and services; he represents cable television companies and other broadband providers on local franchising, rights-of-way, pole attachments, and similar issues. He received his J.D. from Boston University School of Law in 1990, his M.S. from Boston University in 1987, and his A.B. from Cornell University in 1984.

PAUL A. WERNER III, coauthor of chapter 5, is currently a partner and Co-Practice Leader of the Business Trials Practice Group in the Washington, D.C., office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, and represents clients in the telecommunications industry. Mr. Werner represents cable operators, telecommunications, and other broadband providers in matters involving communications law issues, including local franchising, PEG programming, rights-of-way, pole attachments, and infrastructure deployment. He is also experienced in representing communications clients in federal and state court litigation and in adjudications and rulemakings before the Federal Communications Commission. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1999 and his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2002.

About the 2019 Update Authors

DAVID G. BOSS, update coauthor of chapter 3 and update author of chapters 7 and 9; see biography in the About the Authors section of this book.

SUSAN F. FRENCH, update author of chapter 1; see biography in the About the Authors section of this book.

DANIEL L. GOODKIN, update coauthor of chapter 8; see biography in the About the Authors section of this book.

LAURENCE L. HUMMER, update coauthor of chapter 8; see biography in the About the Authors section of this book.

WENDY L. MANLEY, update coauthor of chapter 3, is an attorney at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP, Oakland. She assists clients with permitting, compliance, enforcement issues, and other disputes in a variety of regulatory and litigation contexts. For matters arising under the federal Clean Water Act, she provides guidance to industrial, municipal, and construction clients on compliance with state and federal stormwater permit requirements, and assists with resolution of citizen and agency enforcement actions. She also counsels clients whose activities require or have violated permits authorizing activities in wetlands, or whose activities otherwise involve discharges to “waters of the United States.” Ms. Manley earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Oregon, and her J.D. from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College, with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law.

NEAL A. PARISH, update author of chapter 2; see biography in the About the Authors section of this book.

JESSICA C. RADER, update author of chapter 6, serves as an Attorney III in the California Department of Conservation, Sacramento. She formerly was a Senior Staff Counsel in the California State Lands Commission; she specializes in land use and conservation, real property title issues, environmental, and public agency law. Ms. Rader received her B.A. in 2001 from Humboldt State University, Arcata, and her J.D. in 2007 from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Any statements in chapter 6 are solely the personal statements of the author and do not reflect the views of any governmental agency or official, including, but not limited to, the California Department of Conservation.

RICHARD M. SHAPIRO, update author of chapter 4; see biography in the About the Authors section of this book.

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