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California Subdivision Map Act and the Development Process

Clearly explains a highly technical area of the law. The late Robert E. Merritt and the late Daniel J. Curtin, Jr. compiled years of experience and knowledge into this thorough resource covering the nuances of the Subdivision Map Act.

Clearly explains a highly technical area of the law. The late Robert E. Merritt and the late Daniel J. Curtin, Jr. compiled years of experience and knowledge into this thorough resource covering the nuances of the Subdivision Map Act.

  • Subdivisions covered by the Map Act
  • Required maps: parcel maps versus final maps
  • Attorney’s role in processing subdivision maps
  • Coordinating Map Act approvals with other land use authorizations
  • Using vesting tentative map to acquire vested development rights
  • Certification forms necessary for formal compliance with Map Act
  • Enforcement and judicial review
Print RE33250

2d edition, looseleaf, updated September 2023

$ 468.00
  • Overview
  • Table of Contents
  • Selected Developments
  • Authors
  • Filing Instructions
  • Page List
  • OnLAW System Requirements
  • Specifications

Clearly explains a highly technical area of the law. The late Robert E. Merritt and the late Daniel J. Curtin, Jr. compiled years of experience and knowledge into this thorough resource covering the nuances of the Subdivision Map Act.

  • Subdivisions covered by the Map Act
  • Required maps: parcel maps versus final maps
  • Attorney’s role in processing subdivision maps
  • Coordinating Map Act approvals with other land use authorizations
  • Using vesting tentative map to acquire vested development rights
  • Certification forms necessary for formal compliance with Map Act
  • Enforcement and judicial review

1

History, Purpose, and Preemption

  • I.  INTRODUCTION  1.1
  • II.  LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
    • A.  Earliest Enactments (1893–1943)  1.2
    • B.  McCarthy Act Amendments (1971)  1.3
    • C.  Recodification (1974–1975)  1.4
    • D.  Subdivision Map Act Changes: 1893–1965  1.4A
  • III.  PURPOSES OF MAP ACT
    • A.  Uniform Mapping Standards  1.5
    • B.  Regulation and Control of Subdivisions  1.6
    • C.  Dedications and Improvements  1.7
  • IV.  PREEMPTION
    • A.  Sources of Local Power  1.8
    • B.  Early Case Law; Strict Interpretation of Design and Improvement Standards  1.9
    • C.  Recent Trends: Local Measures Not Directly in Conflict With Map Act Upheld
      • 1.  Need Explicit Legislative Intent to Preempt  1.10
      • 2.  Must Clearly Conflict With Map Act  1.11
    • D.  Measures Directly Conflicting With Map Act  1.12
  • V.  RELATIONSHIP TO SIMILAR LAWS
    • A.  Subdivided Lands Act  1.13
    • B.  Land Surveyors’ Act  1.14
    • C.  Other Land Use Authorizations  1.15

2

Subdivisions Covered by Subdivision Map Act

  • I.  DEFINITION OF “SUBDIVISION”
    • A.  Significance  2.1
    • B.  Need to Investigate Metes and Bounds and Similar Descriptions  2.2
    • C.  Elements of Definition  2.3
      • 1.  Division  2.4
        • a.  Conveyance Creating Exclusive Right of Occupancy May Be a “Division”  2.5
        • b.  Deed of Trust on Portion of Property; Partial Reconveyance  2.6
      • 2.  Subdivider  2.7
      • 3.  Improved or Unimproved Land  2.8
      • 4.  Assessment Roll  2.9
      • 5.  Contiguous Units  2.10
      • 6.  Sale, Lease, or Financing  2.11
        • a.  Transfers by Devise; Tax Collector Sales  2.12
        • b.  Gifts  2.13
      • 7.  Immediate or Future  2.14
  • II.  EXEMPTIONS AND EXCLUSIONS FROM COVERAGE
    • A.  Financing or Leasing Units Within Certain Buildings  2.15
    • B.  Agricultural Leases  2.16
    • C.  Lot Line Adjustments  2.17
      • 1.  Only Limited Conditions May Be Imposed  2.18
      • 2.  Need for Deed, Record of Survey  2.19
      • 3.  Parcels Held in Different Ownership  2.20
      • 4.  Liens Must Be Modified  2.21
      • 5.  Mobilehome Parks and Manufactured Housing Communities  2.22
      • 6.  Coastal Act Applies  2.23
    • D.  Conversion of Community Apartment Project or Stock Cooperative to Condominiums  2.24
    • E.  “Granny” and Accessory Dwelling Units  2.25
    • F.  Cemetery Purposes  2.26
    • G.  Other Exemptions  2.27
    • H.  Conveyances to or From Public Entities or Utilities  2.28
    • I.  Waivers for Certain Mobilehome Park and Floating Home Marina Conversions
      • 1.  Application of Waiver  2.29
      • 2.  Form: Mobilehome Park Petition and Disclosure Statement for Conversion Into Resident-Owned Project  2.30
      • 3.  Form: Floating Home Marina Petition and Disclosure Statement for Conversion Into Resident-Owned Project  2.30A
  • III.  MERGER AND “UNMERGER” OF PARCELS
    • A.  Derivation of Merger Concept  2.31
    • B.  Procedure for Merger
      • 1.  Determining Which Parcels May Be Merged by Local Agency  2.32
      • 2.  Procedural Steps  2.33
    • C.  “Unmerger”  2.34
    • D.  Recognition of Lawfully Created Parcels
      • 1.  The Problem  2.35
      • 2.  Recognition of Previously Created Parcels  2.36
      • 3.  Pre-1893 Mapped Lots  2.37
      • 4.  Post-1893 Mapped Lots  2.38
      • 5.  Presumption of Lawfully Created Parcels  2.39
      • 6.  Lots Created by Deed or Federal Patent  2.40

3

Determining Which Map Is Required

  • I.  TENTATIVE AND FINAL MAPS
    • A.  Purpose of Dual Map Requirement  3.1
    • B.  General Rule: Subdivisions Creating Five or More Parcels or Units Require Tentative and Final Maps  3.2
    • C.  Counting Parcels
      • 1.  Successive Divisions by Same Subdivider or Related Owners Are Treated as Single Subdivision  3.3
      • 2.  Remainder Parcels
        • a.  Remainder Parcels Are Not Counted as a Parcel  3.4
        • b.  Subsequent Transfer Does Not Require Map But May Require Certificate of Compliance  3.5
      • 3.  Conveyances to Public Entities and Public Utilities Are Not Counted as Parcels  3.6
    • D.  Vesting Tentative Maps
      • 1.  Alternative to Conventional Tentative or Parcel Map  3.7
      • 2.  Local Requirements Must Be Considered in Assessing Advantages of Vesting Tentative Map  3.8
  • II.  PARCEL MAPS
    • A.  General Rule: Subdivisions of Four or Fewer Parcels or Units Require a Parcel Map  3.9
    • B.  Exceptions: Parcel Map May Be Filed for Some Subdivisions of Five or More Parcels or Units  3.10
      • 1.  Land of Fewer Than Five Acres  3.11
      • 2.  Parcels of 20 or More Acres  3.12
      • 3.  Industrial or Commercial Development  3.13
      • 4.  Parcels of 40 or More Acres  3.14
      • 5.  Environmental Subdivisions  3.15
    • C.  Parcel Maps for Urban Lot Splits  3.15A
    • D.  Waiver of Parcel Map Requirement  3.16
  • III.  MAP REQUIREMENTS FOR COMMON INTEREST DEVELOPMENTS
    • A.  General Rule  3.17
    • B.  Once Map Is Approved for Condominium Project, Further Division May Not Require Additional Map  3.18
    • C.  Design Issues; Relationship of Govt C §66427 to Other Statutes and Local Ordinances  3.19
    • D.  Airspace Divisions  3.20
  • IV.  SUBDIVISIONS INVOLVING PUBLIC AGENCIES AND PUBLIC UTILITIES  3.21

4

Coordinating Map Act Approvals With Other Land Use Authorizations

  • I.  ATTORNEY’S ROLE IN MAJOR PROJECTS
    • A.  Need for Project Team  4.1
    • B.  Due Diligence  4.2
      • 1.  General Plan  4.3
      • 2.  Zoning Ordinances  4.4
      • 3.  Annexation  4.5
      • 4.  CEQA  4.6
      • 5.  Applicable Appeal Periods  4.7
    • C.  Application Processing
      • 1.  Review of Project Conditions  4.8
      • 2.  Drafting and Negotiating Development Agreement  4.9
      • 3.  Processing Entitlements as a “Package”  4.10
    • D.  Appearance at Hearings  4.11
  • II.  GENERAL AND SPECIFIC PLANS  4.12
    • A.  Checklist: Land Use Approvals and Permits  4.13
    • B.  General Plan  4.14
      • 1.  Required Elements of General Plan  4.15
      • 2.  Adequacy of General Plan  4.16
      • 3.  Consequences of Inadequate General Plan  4.17
    • C.  Specific Plans  4.18
    • D.  Consistency of Maps With General and Specific Plans  4.19
  • III.  ZONING
    • A.  Regulation Through Zoning  4.20
    • B.  Traditional Zoning  4.21
    • C.  Planned Development Zoning  4.22
    • D.  Relationship of Zoning to General Plan  4.23
    • E.  Zoning Amendment Process  4.24
    • F.  Relationship of Zoning Regulations to Map Act  4.25
  • IV.  SPECIAL CASES
    • A.  Conditional Use Permits  4.26
    • B.  Variances  4.27
    • C.  Nonconforming Uses  4.28
    • D.  Density Bonuses and Other Incentives  4.29
    • E.  Interim Ordinances  4.30
    • F.  Prezoning  4.31
    • G.  California Environmental Quality Act  4.32
      • 1.  Ascertaining CEQA Applicability  4.33
      • 2.  Exemptions  4.34
      • 3.  Initial Study  4.35
      • 4.  Negative Declaration  4.36
      • 5.  Environmental Impact Report  4.37
      • 6.  Attorney’s Role in CEQA Review  4.38
    • H.  Wetlands and Endangered Species Laws  4.39
      • 1.  Clean Water Act  4.40
      • 2.  Streambed Alteration Permit  4.41
      • 3.  Coastal Zone Permit  4.42
      • 4.  Endangered Species Act  4.43
    • I.  Agricultural Preserves Under Williamson Act  4.44
    • J.  Open Space and Conservation Easements  4.45

5

Processing Subdivision Maps: Attorney’s Role

  • I.  OVERVIEW OF ATTORNEY’S FUNCTIONS  5.1
    • A.  Dealings With Local Officials  5.2
      • 1.  Brown Act Issues  5.3
      • 2.  Political Reform Act Issues  5.4
    • B.  Procedural Considerations
      • 1.  Protecting Client’s Procedural Rights  5.5
      • 2.  Need for Adequate Findings  5.6
  • II.  PROCESSING PROCEDURES
    • A.  Specification by Local Ordinance  5.7
    • B.  Tentative Maps
      • 1.  Time and Method of Filing  5.8
      • 2.  Application Requirements  5.9
      • 3.  City Notifies Other Agencies of Filing  5.10
      • 4.  Agency Determines Whether Application Is Complete  5.11
      • 5.  Signed Statement on Hazardous Waste  5.12
      • 6.  Preannexation Filings  5.13
      • 7.  Time Limits
        • a.  Under Subdivision Map Act  5.14
          • (1)  “Deemed Approval”  5.15
          • (2)  Advisory Agency With Approval Power  5.16
          • (3)  Advisory Agency That Reports to Legislative Body  5.17
          • (4)  No Advisory Agency  5.18
        • b.  Under CEQA  5.19
        • c.  Under Permit Streamlining Act  5.20
          • (1)  “Deemed Complete”  5.21
          • (2)  “Deemed Approval”  5.22
          • (3)  Pre-1986 “Deemed Approval” Provisions  5.23
          • (4)  Public Notice Requirements  5.24
          • (5)  Waiver Does Not Apply  5.25
          • (6)  Approvals by Other Agencies  5.26
          • (7)  Agency May Not Deny Project Merely to Meet Deadline  5.27
        • d.  Tentative Map Duration  5.28
          • (1)  When to Request Tentative Map Extension  5.28A
          • (2)  Effect of Development Moratorium  5.29
          • (3)  Coordinating Expiration Date of Other Permits and Development Agreement  5.30
          • (4)  Applying for Litigation “Stay”  5.30A
          • (5)  Conditions Imposed on Extensions  5.31
          • (6)  Extensions for Multiple Final Maps  5.32
      • 8.  Vesting Tentative Maps  5.33
        • a.  Procedures Established by Local Law  5.34
        • b.  Information Required  5.35
    • C.  Final Maps  5.36
      • 1.  Compliance With Conditions of Tentative Map Approval Is Required  5.37
      • 2.  Exemption for Certain Off-Site Improvements  5.38
      • 3.  Requirements for Preparation  5.39
      • 4.  Newly Incorporated Cities  5.40
      • 5.  Annexation to City  5.41
    • D.  Parcel Maps  5.42
    • E.  Parcel Maps for Urban Lot Splits  5.42A
    • F.  Chart: Steps in Map Processing  5.43

6

Regulation of Subdivisions: The Police Power, Dedication, and Impact Fees

  • I.  SOURCE OF LOCAL POWER TO IMPOSE CONDITIONS  6.1
    • A.  Definitions of “Exaction” and “Dedication”  6.2
    • B.  Rationale of and Objections to Subdivision Exactions  6.3
      • 1.  Double Taxation  6.4
      • 2.  Equal Protection  6.5
  • II.  PROPER EXERCISE OF POLICE POWER  6.6
    • A.  Development: A Privilege or a Right?  6.7
    • B.  Limitations on Police Power  6.8
  • III.  LEADING CASE LAW—THE NOLLAN, DOLAN, EHRLICH, AND KOONTZ DECISIONS  6.9
    • A.  Nollan v California Coastal Comm’n  6.10
    • B.  Dolan v City of Tigard  6.11
    • C.  Nollan/Dolan as Applied to Impact Fees: Ehrlich v Culver City  6.12
    • D.  Summary of Nollan/Dolan After Ehrlich  6.13
    • E.  Koontz v St. Johns River Water Management District   6.13A
  • IV.  CALIFORNIA’S “NEXUS” LEGISLATION— THE MITIGATION FEE ACT  6.14
    • A.  What Is a Fee?  6.15
    • B.  Required Findings for Imposition of Fees  6.16
    • C.  Use of Fees  6.17
    • D.  Fees for Residential Projects  6.18
    • E.  Processing Fees  6.19
    • F.  Challenging Fees  6.20
    • G.  Developing the Record  6.21

6A

Use of Local Government Districts to Provide Services and Facilities

  • I.  INTRODUCTION
    • A.  Scope of Chapter  6A.1
    • B.  Role of Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) in Forming Service Districts  6A.2
  • II.  ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING SPECIAL DISTRICTS TO PROVIDE SERVICES AND FACILITIES
    • A.  Creation of Additional Layers of Government  6A.3
    • B.  Differences in Range of Functions and Powers  6A.4
    • C.  Differences in Financing Capabilities  6A.5
    • D.  Public Access Requirement  6A.6
    • E.  Voter Apathy  6A.7
    • F.  Conflicts Arising From Different Missions of Public and Private Organizations  6A.8
    • G.  Enforcement Power  6A.9
    • H.  Punitive Damages Claims  6A.10
    • I.  Statutes of Limitations  6A.11
  • III.  TYPES OF SERVICE DISTRICTS  6A.12
    • A.  Single-Purpose Districts  6A.13
    • B.  County Service Areas
      • 1.  Statutory Authorization  6A.14
      • 2.  Formation  6A.15
        • a.  By Petition  6A.15A
        • b.  By Application by the Board of Supervisors  6A.15B
        • c.  LAFCO Proceedings  6A.15C
        • d.  LAFCO Action on Proposal  6A.15D
        • e.  Zones  6A.15E
      • 3.  Authorized Functions  6A.16
    • C.  Community Services Districts
      • 1.  Statutory Basis  6A.17
      • 2.  Formation
        • a.  By Petition  6A.18
        • b.  By Application by Legislative Body  6A.19
        • c.  LAFCO Action on Petition or Application  6A.20
        • d.  LAFCO Proceedings  6A.21
      • 3.  Authorized Functions  6A.22
      • 4.  Additional Functions for Specified Districts  6A.23
      • 5.  General Powers  6A.24
      • 6.  Community Service Districts Management  6A.25
  • IV.  FINANCING SERVICE DISTRICTS AND AGENCIES
    • A.  Effect of Propositions 13 and 218 on Local Agency Financing Powers  6A.26
    • B.  Effect of Proposition 13 on California Real Property Taxes  6A.27
    • C.  Cases Interpreting Proposition 13  6A.28
      • 1.  Special Tax Limitation Applies Only to Taxes Earmarked for a Special Purpose  6A.29
      • 2.  Enabling Legislation Required for Special Tax Levy  6A.30
      • 3.  Voter Approval Required for General Fund Tax  6A.31
      • 4.  Ad Valorem Property Taxes Must Be Based on Property’s Assessed Value  6A.32
      • 5.  Local Governments Can Incur Bonded Indebtedness  6A.33
      • 6.  Special Assessments Not Subject to Voter Approval Requirement  6A.34
      • 7.  Development Fees Exempted From Proposition 13 Restrictions  6A.35
    • D.  Effect of Proposition 218 on Local Agency Financing Power in California  6A.36
      • 1.  Definition of “Special Tax” Under Proposition 218  6A.37
      • 2.  Effect of Proposition 218 on Existing Taxes  6A.38
      • 3.  Relationship to Initiative Power  6A.39
      • 4.  Effect of Proposition 218 on Mello-Roos Taxes  6A.40
      • 5.  Proposition 218’s Restrictions on Assessment Powers  6A.41
      • 6.  Special Benefits Versus General Benefits  6A.42
      • 7.  Proposition 218 Requirements Applicable to All Assessments  6A.43
        • a.  Calculation Component  6A.44
        • b.  Notice Component  6A.45
        • c.  Property Owner Approval Component  6A.46
      • 8.  Impact of Proposition 218 on Property-Related Fees and Charges  6A.47
      • 9.  Summary of Voter Approval Requirements for Taxes, Assessments, and Fees Under Proposition 218  6A.48
      • 10.  Time for Challenge to Fee or Charge for Water or Sewer Service   6A.48A
    • E.  County Service Area Taxing and Bonding Authority
      • 1.  Taxing Powers  6A.48B
        • a.  Special Taxes and Benefit Assessments  6A.49
        • b.  Fees and Charges  6A.50
      • 2.  Bonding Authority  6A.51
    • F.  Community Service District Financing Authority
      • 1.  Bonding Authority  6A.52
      • 2.  Taxing Authority  6A.53
    • G.  Mello-Roos Community Facilities Districts
      • 1.  Statutory Basis  6A.54
      • 2.  Mello-Roos Financing and Proposition 13  6A.55
      • 3.  Services That May Be Financed Through Mello-Roos Districts  6A.56
      • 4.  Facilities That May Be Financed Through Mello-Roos Districts  6A.57
      • 5.  Formation of Mello-Roos Districts  6A.58
        • a.  Resolution of Intention  6A.59
        • b.  District Boundaries  6A.60
        • c.  Establishment of Appropriations Limit  6A.61
        • d.  Report Regarding Proposed Services or Facilities  6A.62
        • e.  Public Notice Requirements  6A.63
        • f.  Protests to Establishment of District; Public Hearing  6A.64
        • g.  Resolution of Formation  6A.65
        • h.  Election to Approve Special Taxes
          • (1)  Procedure  6A.66
          • (2)  Eligibility to Vote  6A.67
          • (3)  Election by Mail Ballot  6A.68
        • i.  Levy of Special Tax
          • (1)  Statutory Authorization  6A.69
          • (2)  Use of Proceeds of Special Tax  6A.70
          • (3)  Collection of Special Tax  6A.71
          • (4)  Foreclosure Proceedings  6A.72
          • (5)  Fees and Charges  6A.73
          • (6)  Report by County Auditor  6A.74
          • (7)  Notice Requirements Concerning Special Tax on Subdivision Lots  6A.75
          • (8)  Prepayment of Special Tax  6A.76
        • j.  Recordation of District Map and Notice of Levy  6A.77
        • k.  Mello-Roos Bonding Authority
          • (1)  Statutory Requirements  6A.78
          • (2)  Bonds Issued to Pay for Services Within Improvement Area  6A.79
          • (3)  Expenses Included in Issuing Bonds  6A.80
          • (4)  Bond Requirements
            • (a)  Formalities; Permissible Interest Rate  6A.81
            • (b)  Tax-Exempt Status  6A.82
            • (c)  Certification by State Treasurer [Deleted]  6A.83
            • (d)  Refunding Bonds  6A.84
          • (5)  Bond Anticipation Notes  6A.85
        • l.  Changes in Facilities, Services, or Special Taxes Subsequent to District Formation  6A.86
          • (1)  Legislative Initiative  6A.87
          • (2)  Voter or Landowner Petition  6A.88
          • (3)  Public Hearing  6A.89

7

Acquiring Vested Rights

  • I.  INTRODUCTION  7.1
  • II.  VESTED RIGHTS DOCTRINE
    • A.  Common Law Rule
      • 1.  Description and Scope of Doctrine  7.2
      • 2.  Practical Application of Doctrine  7.3
      • 3.  Description of and Policy Reason for Vested Rights Rule  7.4
    • B.  Map Filing Freeze  7.5
    • C.  “One-Bite-of-the-Apple” Rule for Residential Subdividing  7.6
    • D.  Early Vesting on Preliminary Application for Housing Development Projects  7.6A
  • III.  VESTING TENTATIVE MAPS
    • A.  Legislative Background  7.7
    • B.  Scope of Vested Right
      • 1.  Protections Against Changes in Law  7.8
      • 2.  What Constitutes Ordinance, Policy, or Standard  7.9
      • 3.  Local Agency May Impose Reasonable Conditions  7.10
      • 4.  Exceptions to Rule  7.11
    • C.  Duration of Vested Right  7.12
    • D.  Conditional Approvals  7.13
    • E.  Vesting Map Amendments  7.14
    • F.  Map Processing  7.15
  • IV.  DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS
    • A.  Purpose  7.16
    • B.  Legislative Act Subject to Referendum  7.17
    • C.  Parties  7.18
    • D.  Property in Unincorporated Territory  7.19
    • E.  Who Is Bound by Agreement  7.20
    • F.  Contents of Agreement  7.21
    • G.  Approval and Recording Procedures  7.22
    • H.  Protection Afforded Developer  7.23
    • I.  Statutes of Limitations for Development Agreements  7.23A
    • J.  Validity of Development Agreements
      • 1.  Constitutionality  7.24
      • 2.  Drafting to Avoid Invalidity  7.25
  • V.  PROS AND CONS OF VESTING MECHANISMS  7.26

8

Map Conditions

  • I.  AUTHORIZING PROVISIONS FOR DEDICATIONS AND FEES  8.1
  • II.  TACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR SUBDIVIDER’S ATTORNEY
    • A.  Ascertain Whether Local Government Adopted Enabling Ordinances  8.2
    • B.  Review Conditions for Clarity  8.3
    • C.  Ascertain Whether Fees Are for Impermissible Purpose  8.4
  • III.  CONDITIONS IN MAP ACT AND RELATED STATUTES
    • A.  Requirements for Subdivisions  8.5
      • 1.  Street, Bicycle Path, and Transit Facility Dedications  8.6
      • 2.  Solar Access Easements  8.7
      • 3.  Parkland Dedication or “In Lieu” Fees  8.8
        • a.  Exemptions From Parkland Provisions  8.9
        • b.  Credit for Private Open Space  8.10
        • c.  Adequacy of Water Supply  8.10A
      • 4.  School Fees and Site Dedication
        • a.  School Facilities Act  8.11
          • (1)  Requirements for Map Conditions  8.12
          • (2)  Direct Nexus Required  8.13
        • b.  Limitations Imposed by Other School Facilities Legislation  8.14
          • (1)  State Law Provides Complete and Exclusive Mitigation for School Impacts, Preempts Local Regulation  8.15
          • (2)  Limitation on Amount of Fees  8.16
          • (3)  Limitations on Types of Facilities Subject to Fees  8.17
          • (4)  Limitations on Use of Fees  8.18
        • c.  Procedures for Adoption of Fees  8.19
        • d.  Challenging School Fees  8.20
        • e.  School Fees Are Not Special Taxes  8.21
      • 5.  Public Access  8.22
      • 6.  Reservations  8.23
      • 7.  Drainage and Sewer Facilities  8.24
      • 8.  Fees for Bridges and Major Thoroughfares  8.25
      • 9.  Transportation Facilities Fees  8.25A
      • 10.  Fees for Groundwater Recharge  8.26
      • 11.  Supplemental Improvements; Reimbursement Agreements  8.27
      • 12.  Soils Investigations and Reports  8.28
      • 13.  Setting of Monuments  8.29
    • B.  Other Map Act Provisions
      • 1.  Grading and Erosion Control Requirements  8.30
      • 2.  Public Improvements  8.31
      • 3.  Off-Site Improvements  8.32
      • 4.  Energy Conservation  8.33
      • 5.  Indemnification  8.34
      • 6.  Reconveyance of Certain Land Dedications  8.34A
    • C.  Limits on Local Standards for Public Improvements  8.35
    • D.  Engineering or Land Surveying Conditions  8.36
  • IV.  CONDITIONS IMPOSED UNDER ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PROCESS  8.37
  • V.  CONDITIONS IMPOSED UNDER LOCAL POWER TO REGULATE DESIGN AND IMPROVEMENT  8.38
    • A.  Definition of Design  8.39
    • B.  Definition of Improvement  8.40
    • C.  Scope of Design and Improvement  8.41
  • VI.  CONDITIONS IMPOSED TO IMPLEMENT GENERAL OR SPECIFIC PLANS  8.42
  • VII.  IMPOSITION OF TAXES ON DEVELOPMENT  8.43
  • VIII.  ISSUES CONCERNING IMPOSITION OF CONDITIONS
    • A.  Map Filing Freeze; “One-Bite-of-the-Apple” Rule  8.44
    • B.  Procedures for Adopting, Increasing, and Imposing Development Fees  8.45

9

Map Approvals and Denials

  • I.  TENTATIVE MAP APPROVALS  9.1
    • A.  Attorney’s Role  9.2
      • 1.  Drafting or Reviewing Proposed Findings  9.3
      • 2.  Ensuring Adequate Evidence in Record  9.4
      • 3.  Creating Transcript of Hearing  9.5
    • B.  Conduct of Hearing
      • 1.  Notice  9.6
      • 2.  Adjudicatory Nature of Hearing; Due Process  9.7
      • 3.  Entity Conducting Hearing  9.8
      • 4.  Law Applicable to Map Review
        • a.  General Rule  9.9
        • b.  Exceptions  9.10
          • (1)  Changes “in the Pipeline”  9.11
          • (2)  Changes Requested by Subdivider  9.12
          • (3)  Annexation Before Final Map Approval  9.13
        • c.  Vesting Tentative Maps  9.14
        • d.  Initiatives  9.15
      • 5.  Agency Must Base Its Decision on Adequate Findings  9.16
        • a.  Underlying Public Policy  9.17
        • b.  What Constitutes Administrative Finding  9.18
        • c.  Sufficiency and Support of Findings  9.19
    • C.  Required Findings for Tentative Map Approval
      • 1.  General Plan Consistency  9.20
      • 2.  Housing Balance  9.21
      • 3.  Solar Capabilities  9.22
      • 4.  Mobilehome Park and Floating Home Marina Conversions  9.23
      • 5.  Telephone, Internet, and Cable Television Service  9.24
      • 6.  Absence of Factors That Would Require Disapproval Under Govt C §66474  9.24A
    • D.  Findings Requiring Tentative Map Disapproval
      • 1.  General Plan Inconsistency  9.25
      • 2.  Physical Suitability  9.26
      • 3.  Density  9.27
      • 4.  Environmental Effect  9.28
      • 5.  Public Health  9.29
      • 6.  Conflict With Public Easements  9.30
      • 7.  Agricultural Preserves and Conservation Easements  9.31
      • 8.  Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Flood Protection  9.31A
      • 9.  Water Quality  9.32
      • 10.  Subdivider’s Failure to Comply With Map Act or Local Ordinances  9.33
      • 11.  Charter Amendments  9.34
    • E.  Administrative Appeals
      • 1.  Procedures
        • a.  Reviewing Body  9.35
        • b.  Standing  9.36
        • c.  Time for Filing Appeal After Advisory Agency Decision  9.37
        • d.  Time for Hearing  9.38
        • e.  Appeals From Decision of Appeal Board  9.39
        • f.  Reviewing Body’s Failure to Act  9.40
        • g.  Notice Requirements for Exhaustion Doctrine to Apply  9.41
        • h.  Effect of Procedural Errors  9.42
        • i.  Hearing Is De Novo  9.43
      • 2.  Chart: Processing Appeal From Advisory Agency Decision  9.44
  • II.  FINAL MAP APPROVALS
    • A.  Final Map in Substantial Compliance With Tentative Map Must Be Approved  9.45
    • B.  Grounds for Disapproving Final Map  9.46
    • C.  Delegation of Approval Authority  9.47
    • D.  Final Map Approval Does Not Ensure Other Development Approvals  9.48
    • E.  Effect of Intervening Changes in Law  9.49
    • F.  Approval Certificate; Acceptance of Offers of Dedication  9.50
    • G.  Residential Real Property Conversions
      • 1.  Findings Required  9.51
      • 2.  Form: 60-Day Notice of Intent to Convert Before Filing Tentative Map (Govt C §66452.18)  9.51A
      • 3.  Form: 180-Day Notice of Intent to Convert Before Termination of Tenancy (Govt C §66452.19)  9.51B
      • 4.  Form: Notice of Exclusive Right to Purchase (Govt C §66452.20)  9.51C
      • 5.  Notices to Tenants  9.52
      • 6.  General and Specific Plan Consistency; Vote of Owners and Beneficiaries  9.53
  • III.  PARCEL MAP APPROVALS  9.54
    • A.  Approval by Designated Official  9.55
    • B.  Recordation  9.56
    • C.  Performance of Construction Obligations  9.57
  • IV.  MAP APPROVAL NOT SUBJECT TO REFERENDUM  9.58

10

Map Standards and Requirements

  • I.  ATTORNEY’S REVIEW OF MAP  10.1
  • II.  TENTATIVE MAPS  10.2
  • III.  FINAL MAPS  10.3
    • A.  Final Map Certificates  10.4
      • 1.  Statement of Consent to Final Map  10.5
      • 2.  Statement of Dedications  10.6
      • 3.  Clerk’s Certificate  10.7
      • 4.  Engineering Statements for Final Map
        • a.  Surveyor’s or Engineer’s Statement  10.8
        • b.  City Engineer or City or County Surveyor Statement  10.9
        • c.  Form: Statement of City Engineer, City Surveyor, or County Surveyor—Final Map  10.10
    • B.  Local Ordinance Requirements  10.11
    • C.  Common Interest Subdivisions; Combined Final Map and Condominium Plan
      • 1.  Final Map Requirements  10.12
      • 2.  Form: Notice to Tenants  10.13
  • IV.  PARCEL MAPS
    • A.  Parcel Map Standards and Requirements  10.14
    • B.  Parcel Map Statements
      • 1.  Statement of Consent to Parcel Map  10.15
      • 2.  Dedications on Parcel Map  10.16
      • 3.  Engineering Statements for Parcel Map
        • a.  Engineer’s or Surveyor’s Statement  10.17
        • b.  Form: Engineer’s or Surveyor’s Statement—Parcel Map  10.18
        • c.  City Engineer or City or County Surveyor Statement  10.19
        • d.  Form: City Engineer’s, City Surveyor’s, or County Surveyor’s Statement—Parcel Map  10.20
      • 4.  Form: Recorder’s Certificate or Statement  10.21
  • V.  DEDICATIONS
    • A.  Irrevocable Nature of Dedication  10.22
    • B.  Local Agency Action on Dedication; Effect of Rejection on Offer  10.23
    • C.  Abandonment of Dedication on Resubdivision or Reversion to Acreage  10.24
    • D.  Record Certification That Dedication Must Be Reconveyed If Public Use Changes  10.25
  • VI.  IMPROVEMENT SECURITY
    • A.  Need for Improvement Agreements  10.26
      • 1.  Types of Improvement Agreements  10.27
      • 2.  Agency Need Not Enter Into Improvement Agreement  10.28
      • 3.  Special Rule for Certain Off-Site Improvements  10.29
    • B.  Obligations Secured  10.30
    • C.  Form of Security  10.31
    • D.  Amount of Security  10.32
    • E.  Rights Afforded by Security  10.33
    • F.  Release of Security  10.34
    • G.  Remedies  10.35
    • H.  Forms of Bonds
      • 1.  Form: Faithful Performance Bond  10.36
      • 2.  Form: Labor and Material Bond  10.37
  • VII.  MONUMENTS  10.38
  • VIII.  FILING REQUIREMENTS FOR FINAL AND PARCEL MAPS
    • A.  Tax Lien Certificates  10.39
    • B.  Payment or Bonding of Taxes  10.40
    • C.  Evidence of Title; Subdivision Guaranty  10.41
    • D.  Recorder’s Review of Map  10.42
    • E.  Effect of Recording Map  10.43
  • IX.  CORRECTION AND AMENDMENT OF MAP
    • A.  Grounds
      • 1.  Errors and Omissions  10.44
      • 2.  Changed Circumstances  10.45
    • B.  Amendment Procedure  10.46
    • C.  Changes Affecting Property Rights  10.47

11

Enforcement

  • I.  PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES  11.1
  • II.  PURCHASERS’ REMEDIES
    • A.  Action to Void Deed, Sale, or Contract  11.2
    • B.  Action for Damages  11.3
    • C.  Liability of Title Insurer  11.4
    • D.  Form: Title Insurance Endorsement Against Map Act Violations  11.5
    • E.  Injunctive Relief  11.6
  • III.  DISCLOSURES FOR REAL PROPERTY PURCHASE AND SALE CONTRACTS
    • A.  When Required  11.7
    • B.  Required Disclosures; Penalties for Failure to Disclose  11.8
    • C.  Buyer’s Remedies for Nondisclosure  11.9
  • IV.  LOCAL AGENCY’S REMEDIES
    • A.  Injunctive and Declaratory Relief  11.10
    • B.  Criminal Penalties  11.11
    • C.  Notice of Violation  11.12
    • D.  Denial of Development Permits and Approvals  11.13
  • V.  THIRD PARTY’S REMEDIES  11.14
  • VI.  DEFENSE TO UNLAWFUL DETAINER ACTION  11.15
  • VII.  CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE
    • A.  In General  11.16
    • B.  Procedure
      • 1.  Owner Files Request  11.17
      • 2.  Agency Determines Compliance  11.18
      • 3.  Owner Entitled to Certificate  11.19
      • 4.  Required Contents of Certificate  11.20
      • 5.  Agency May Condition Certificate  11.21
  • VIII.  CERTIFICATES OF EXCEPTION (LOS ANGELES COUNTY)  11.22

12

Reversions and Exclusions

  • I.  REVERSION TO ACREAGE
    • A.  Formal Reversion
      • 1.  Nature and Purpose  12.1
      • 2.  Procedure
        • a.  Initiation; Fees; Public Hearing  12.2
        • b.  Findings; Conditions  12.3
        • c.  Recording Final Map; Release of Fees  12.4
      • 3.  Refund of Unused Subdivision Fees  12.5
    • B.  Alternative Procedures
      • 1.  Parcel Map for Reversion to Acreage  12.6
      • 2.  Merger and Resubdivision  12.7
      • 3.  Merger of Contiguous Parcels Under Common Ownership  12.8
      • 4.  Lot Line Adjustment  12.9
  • II.  EXCLUSION FROM SUBDIVISION  12.10
    • A.  Initiating Procedure  12.11
    • B.  Notice of Petition; Hearing  12.12
    • C.  Court Decree Recorded  12.13

13

Judicial Review

  • I.  CHALLENGES TO SUBDIVISION APPROVAL OR DENIAL
    • A.  Statutory Cause of Action  13.1
      • 1.  Claims for Money  13.2
      • 2.  Tentative Map May Be Stayed  13.3
    • B.  Mandamus Proceedings  13.4
      • 1.  Commencement of Action  13.5
      • 2.  Record of Proceedings; Issuance of Writ  13.6
      • 3.  Ascertaining Whether Administrative or Traditional Mandamus Applies  13.7
    • C.  Protesting Imposition of Subdivision Exaction; Mitigation Fee Act  13.8
      • 1.  Tender and Notice Required  13.9
      • 2.  Effect on Map Processing  13.10
      • 3.  Time for Filing Protest  13.11
      • 4.  Filing Legal Action  13.12
  • II.  STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
    • A.  90-Day Period for Mandamus Action  13.13
      • 1.  Commencement of 90-Day Period  13.14
      • 2.  Laches  13.15
    • B.  180-Day Period for Exaction Challenge  13.16
    • C.  Chart: Statutes Applicable to Common Land Use Decisions  13.17
  • III.  STANDARD OF REVIEW
    • A.  Administrative Mandamus Action  13.18
      • 1.  Independent Judgment Versus Substantial Evidence Tests  13.19
      • 2.  Findings Requirements  13.20
    • B.  Traditional Mandamus Action  13.21
  • IV.  EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES  13.22
    • A.  Administrative Appeals  13.23
    • B.  Waiver of Exhaustion Requirement  13.24
    • C.  Challenger Must Follow Each Procedural Step  13.25
  • V.  ATTORNEY FEES  13.26

Selected Developments

September 2023 Update

Government Code §§65852.2 and 65852.22 regarding standards and regulations of “accessory dwelling units” and “junior accessory dwelling units” were reorganized and amended, including for instances in which there are no local ordinances regarding such units. See §2.25.

A new exception to the Subdivision Map Act was created by new Govt C §66412(n): The Act does not apply to leasing of, or granting an easement to, a parcel of land, or any portion or portions thereof, in conjunction with the financing, erection, and sale or lease of an electrical energy storage system (as defined in Pub Res C §2835) on the land, if the project is subject to discretionary action by the advisory agency or legislative body. See §2.27.

Newly created Govt C §65300.5(b) states: The California Legislature has expressly provided that it intends for the general plan law to support and encourage communities in reaching the state’s environmental and climate objectives. The legislature intends for general plans to encourage measures that will enable communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change, including but not limited to higher average temperatures, decreased air and water quality, the spread of infectious and vectorborne diseases, other public health impacts, extreme weather events, sea level rise, flooding, heat waves, wildfires, and drought. See §4.16.

On May 25, 2023, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Sackett v EPA (May 25, 2023, No. 21–454) 2023 US Lexis 2202, in which a five-Justice majority opinion rejected the “significant nexus” as applied by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to wetlands on the plaintiffs’ property. The Court ruled that, in order for wetland to be covered by the Act, it must as a practicable matter be “indistinguishable from waters of the United States” (WOTUS). To meet this test, the wetland must have a “continuous surface connection” to a “relatively permanent body of water connected to traditional interstate navigable waters,” such that it is “difficult to determine whether the ‘water’ ends and the ‘wetland’ begins.” The Court’s opinion effectively adopts the continuous surface connection test as the governing standard, and it nullifies the significant nexus test, stating that the Act “never mentions the ‘significant nexus’ test, so the EPA has no statutory basis to impose it.”

In light of the Court’s opinion, the EPA and other federal agencies will undoubtedly need to reissue their regulations defining the scope of federal jurisdiction. There, key questions that remain are (1) what constitutes a “relatively permanent body” of water in terms of assessing seasonal and intermittent water bodies; (2) what constitutes a “continuous surface connection” in terms of assessing temporary interruptions in flow due to phenomena such as, e.g., drought conditions, low tides; and (3) which types of interstate waters (i.e., waters extending across state lines) are covered by the Act. For the current status of the EPA’s implementation and definition of WOTUS, refer to https://www.epa.gov/wotus/current-implementation-waters-united-states. See §4.40.

Assembly Bill 2449 (Stats 2022, ch 285) will amend Govt C §54953 twice—first, a set of revisions to become operational on January 1, 2024, and repeal on January 1, 2026, and second, a set of permanent provisions to become operational on January 1, 2026, with no repeal date. Both sets of revisions mainly focus on teleconferencing requirements and procedures, so both government officials and practitioners should be mindful when preparing to meet with parties regarding subdivision. See §5.3.

In Sheetz v County of El Dorado (2022) 84 CA5th 394, 406–07, it was held that the Nollan/Dolan test does not apply to traffic mitigation impact fees imposed on new developments. See §6.13.

About the Authors

DANIEL J. CURTIN, JR. Until his death, Mr. Curtin practiced as senior counsel in the Walnut Creek office of Bingham McCutchen. Described as “the dean of California land use law,” Mr. Curtin’s career as a highly respected attorney, professor, author, and lecturer on California land use and subdivision law spanned nearly 50 years. For detailed biographical information about Mr. Curtin, see the “In Memoriam” section.

ROBERT E. MERRITT. Mr. Merritt was formerly a partner in the Walnut Creek office of Bingham McCutchen. He received his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 1966, and is considered to be one of the state’s leading authorities on the Subdivision Map Act. For detailed biographical information about Mr. Merritt, see the “In Memoriam” section.

CURTIS C. SPROUL is a partner in the law firm of Sproul Trost LLP, located in Roseville. Mr. Sproul wrote Chapter 6A on Use of Local Government Districts to Provide Services and Facilities. Mr. Sproul specializes in representing homeowners’ associations, common interest developers, and nonprofit organizations of all kinds. He earned his B.A. in 1970 and his J.D. in 1973 from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. He is the co-author of CEB’s Advising California Nonprofit Corporations and Advising California Common Interest Communities. He has also published numerous articles and spoken frequently on the subject of nonprofit corporations and common interest developments.

About the 2023 Update Author

MATTHEW S. GRAY is a partner in the San Francisco office of Perkins Coie LLP. Mr. Gray has served as lead update author of this title annually since 2005. He received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1997. Mr. Gray represents developers, landowners, and local agencies in all stages of the land use entitlement and development process. He assists clients in negotiating and securing approval of development agreements, general plan amendments, specific plans, zoning, subdivision maps, and annexation of property into cities and special districts; regularly appears before planning commissions and city councils; and advises clients on compliance with the Subdivision Map Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, and other federal and state regulatory programs implicated by the development process. Mr. Gray also has experience negotiating affordable housing agreements, complex mitigation fee agreements, and conservation easements; using the initiative and referendum process in the land use planning context; and developing strategies to leverage the Housing Accountability Act and the Housing Crisis Act. Mr. Gray is a frequent speaker at CEB programs and other legal education panels on the Subdivision Map Act and land use entitlement and development issues.

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