Public Counter (ROW)

Public Counter - Right of Way Engineering (ROWE)

  1. Processes certain land transactions:
    1. Mandated projects - dedications of land for public purposes.
    2. Capital projects - acquisition of land for public works projects.
    3. Vacation of unneeded public rights.
  2. Provides technical support services:
    1. Determination of parcel boundaries and acreage.
    2. Preparation and review of legal descriptions and maps.
    3. Review and assessment of existing title matters.
  3. Maintains a public service counter and the real property records.

Mandated Projects

Developers are sometimes conditioned to dedicate certain rights to the County as a condition of development. These dedications are usually done on tract and parcel maps. When the dedication cannot be done on a map it is processed by the Right of Way Engineering Section. The following information (underlined text is hyperlinked to provide examples) is required to be submitted to Right of Way Engineering to begin the processing:

  1. Legal descriptions signed by a Licensed Surveyor, for parcels to be conveyed to the County.
  2. Maps (8 ½" x 11") or (24"x 36") drawn at no smaller than 100 scale showing adequate data to locate the boundaries of such parcels.
  3. Traverse closures for all parcels showing area and error of closure.
  4. A preliminary title report covering such parcels that is to be no older that 90 days and that was requested solely for County's use.
  5. Evidence of developer's satisfaction of the requirements of:
    1. California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA]
    2. County or City General Plan Conformity findings. [GPC]
    3. Hazardous Materials Assessment (including a current Transfer Disclosure Statement).
  6. Copy of conditions of approval with conditions identified that requires conveyance of real property interest to the County.

Processing by Right of Way Engineering will include the following:

  1. Legal descriptions and maps will be reviewed for correctness.
  2. Legal descriptions and maps will be attached to the necessary deeds conveying real property interests to "County".
  3. Title reports will be reviewed and used to prepare documents to eliminate or subordinate to the County's interest objectionable or incompatible encumbrances. Upon completion of the project OC Public Works staff will request a policy of title insurance covering the County's newly acquired interests, with premium to be paid by developer.
  4. County will prepare the necessary deed(s) and forward to the developer to obtain execution. If signing on behalf of a corporation, two signatures of two different officers are required.
  5. Upon return, executed documents will be sent to the Board of Supervisors or Director, OC Public Works for acceptance.

Capital Projects

Right of Way Engineering is an integral part of any public works project, also known as a capital project. This could be a new road, flood control facility or park. It could also be an addition or modification to an existing facility. Right of Way Engineering works closely with the design engineers to identify the parcel boundaries needed for each project. Once the boundaries are established the following work is done by Right of Way Engineering:

  1. Legal descriptions are prepared by the staff then reviewed and signed by the manager or his/her designated representative, a Licensed Surveyor, for parcels to be conveyed to the County.
  2. Maps (8 ½" x 11") or (24"x 36") drawn at no smaller than 100 scale showing adequate data to locate the boundaries of such parcels.
  3. Traverse closures for all parcels showing area and error of closure.
  4. A preliminary title report covering such parcels that is to be no older that 90 days and that was requested solely for County's use.
  5. Memos requesting the following will be sent out:
    1. California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA]
    2. County or City General Plan Conformity findings. [GPC]
    3. Hazardous Materials Assessment (including a current Transfer Disclosure Statement).
  6. Plot all easements affecting the parcels to be obtained by the County.
  7. Prepare acquisition packages that will be sent to OC Public Works/Real Estate Services. They will do the actual acquisition and Right of Way Engineering will continue to provide technical assistance.

Street Vacations

The Orange County Board of Supervisors may vacate a street, highway or public service easement pursuant to the California Streets and Highways Code Section 8335 by adopting a resolution of vacation. After the resolution is recorded, the street, highway or public service easement no longer constitutes a street, highway or public service easement. To request a vacation of a street, highway or public service easement, send a letter to Right of Way Engineering outlining your proposal along with a non-refundable check made out to the County of Orange for $150. Right of Way Engineering will process the vacation and you will be billed monthly on a time and materials basis.

Parcel Boundaries

Parcel boundaries are created by design engineers or architects. Legal descriptions and maps of the parcels are then prepared using either field survey data or information obtained from public records. Areas are calculated using coordinate geometry. 

Preparation & Review of Legal Descriptions

All legal descriptions are prepared and reviewed by a professional land surveyor licensed by the State of California. Descriptions prepared in-house are signed and sealed by the Right of Way Engineering Manager, or his/her designated representative. Those legal descriptions prepared by others are reviewed for technical and mathematical correctness. A check letter is sent to the preparer outlining any errors and/or omissions.

Review & Assessment of Title Matters

When the County is acquiring an interest in any parcel of land a title report is ordered to assess the condition of existing title. The title report will show the following information:

  1. Owner
  2. Encumbrances
  3. Date
  4. Legal Description

After reviewing the title report a Title Exception Investigation Report is prepared indicating those items that are of concern to the County. Any existing trust deeds must be subordinated to the County's interest to protect that interest in case of foreclosure.

Glossary of Terms



Appurtenant Easement

An interest in real property created over one parcel of land for the benefit of another parcel of land.

Acknowledgement
A certificate completed by a notary public and attached to a document as evidence that the document was signed by a particular person.

Body
In a real property legal description, language that follows the caption and which describes a specific portion of the land defined in the caption.

Caption
In a real property legal description, the first paragraph which defines, by reference to public records, the outer limits of the parcel to be described. When the parcel defined in the caption is the same as the parcel to be described, the caption constitutes the entire description. When the parcel to be described is a portion of the caption parcel, the description is further limited by succeeding body and/or exception paragraphs.

Constructive Notice
Notice imparted by the recording of a document. Anyone, thereafter, dealing with the property is deemed to have notice of the document, even though he may not have inspected the public records and does not have actual notice of the document.

Dedication
Conveyance of real property required by conditions for approval of a subdivision map, use variance or permit.

Donation
Conveyance of real property where the grantor waves rights to appraisal and purchase, at fair market value.

Easement
An interest in real property which entitles the owner of the interest to a limited use or enjoyment of the land.

Easement in Gross
A right in another's land which is not created for the benefit of land owned by the easement holder.

Eminent Domain
The right to take private property for public use.

Encumbrance
A right or interest in land (taxes, easements, liens, etc.) decreasing its value, but not hindering its sale or transfer.

Estate
The degree, quantity, nature and extent of an owner's interest in real property.

Exception
In a real property legal description, language that follows the caption and body (where a body is included) and which defines land to be excluded from the parcel being described.

Fee Simple
Highest ownership which may be held in land; is of indefinite duration; is freely transferable; is disposable by will; will pass to heirs if no will is left.

Grant Deed
Document for conveyance of real property. Contains implied warranties and conveys after acquired title.

Grantor
One who conveys or gives real property by a deed.

Grantee
One who receives real property by a deed.

Litigation Guarantee
A type of report, purchased from a title insurance company, on the status of title in a parcel of land. It provides information needed for filing an action to condemn real property for public use. It identifies the current property owner, provides a property description, lists all encumbrances of record and gives the recording data for the deed by which the property owner acquired ownership.

Partial Reconveyance
A document by which a lender gives up his rights under a deed of trust for a portion of a parcel of land. Used to remove the deed of trust lien from title when County is acquiring only a portion of a parcel of land. The property not acquired by the County remains security for the owner's loan.

Quitclaim Deed
A document for conveyance of real property. Transfers whatever interest, if any, which the grantor may hold.

Real Property
Land and things affixed to land (houses, trees, fences, etc.). This is contrasted with Personal Property (clothes, books, cars, etc.) which includes every kind of property that is not Real Property.

Reservation
An interest in real property, over all or a portion of a parcel of land, retained by the grantor when conveying the parcel to another.

Right of Way
A privilege to pass over another person's land. May be by foot, motor vehicle, railroad, pipe lines or pole lines or by whatever method is intended. The term is also commonly used to refer to the strip of land occupied by an improvement such as a road, flood control channel, pipeline or railroad.

Subordination
A document used to make an existing lien (particularly a trust deed) on real property of lesser priority in title to a newly created lien (particularly an easement to the County). Used to prevent extinguishment of County's easement in the event of a foreclosure on the property because the owner's failure to repay a loan.

Title
The method by which an owner's right to property is established or evidenced; i.e., evidence of ownership.

Title Report
A report, purchased from a title insurance company, on the status of title in a parcel of land. It identifies the current property owner, provides a property description, lists all encumbrances of record. ROWE uses this type of report where condemnation will not be needed.

Trust Deed
A document used to create a lien against real property as collateral for repayment of a loan. The trustor (borrower) conveys bare legal title to a trustee who holds it as security for the beneficiary (lender) until the loan is repaid.

Vacation
Elimination of public rights in a parcel (such as easements) by resolution of the governing body having jurisdiction. Fee ownership is not changed.

Vestee
The owner of real property.

Abbreviations

BOS
Board of Supervisors

CEQA
California Environmental Quality Act

Dd.
Book of Deeds

et al.
And Others

et con.
And Husband

et ux.
And Wife

GPC
General Plan Conformance

HMA
Hazardous Materials Assessment

M.M.
Miscellaneous Maps

NAP
Not A Part

O.R.
Official Records

PIQ
Parcel In Question

P.M.
Parcel Map

P.M.B.
Parcel Map Book

POB
Point Of Beginning

POC
Point Of Commencement

RES
Real Estate Services

R.S.
Record of Survey

R/W
Right-of-Way

S.B.M.
San Bernardino Meridian

TEI
Title Exception Investigation