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Land Survey Tales of Caution
Baldwin Park neighbors dispute with home developer over property line 
   - San Gabriel Valley Tribune June 29, 2011


  • "About half a dozen homeowners say the builder has encroached on their properties - knocking down a wall that stood for more than 40 years and annexing up to two feet along some back yards."They didn't even tell me," neighbor Salvador Suarez said. 'They just knocked it down all of sudden, while I'm at work.'"


Poway lawsuit could cost city more than $1 million
   - San Diego Union Tribune Friday, December 17. 2010

Lawsuits pending against City of Poway stemming from 2007 easement tree-clearing project


  • "A poorly executed city plan to clear trees on properties of two homes in north Poway has spiraled into a legal tug-of-war that has run up a possible bill for the city of nearly $1 million, and the tab is still running."

  • "A city permit in fall 2006 called for 25 trees to be cleared along a sewer easement near Avenida La Valencia to establish a way to maintain a pipeline that runs through backyards."

  • "The city admitted in a brief that it relied on an outdated map and thought the sewer easement extended 60 to 90 feet; however, much of the easement had been eliminated, and was only 10 feet wide when contractors cut down the trees."

  • "They had a plan, and they were like the three stooges," Judge Frederic Link said in a July 2009 hearing, referring to the number of trees cut down."

  • "It's not just the original tree chopping case that has been costly. The case has spawned other complaints. In December 2008, the city filed a cross-complaint within the tree lawsuit that said Tartre's tennis court - approved by the City Council in 2002 - was on the easement and would interfere with work on the sewer line."

  • "Judge Link blocked the city in July 2009 from making Tartre remove the $60,000 court, saying that filing the complaint after the homeowners brought the lawsuit "smacks of retaliation"."

  • "So began a tussle that has involved court decisions, appeals and counter claims that could cost the city about $1 million in legal fees and damages. The costs will continue to rise as the two sides appear to be nowhere near settling a case over a job that cost the city about $40 to $250 per tree, according to calculations based on the city contract with the tree removal company that year."


Eviction looming in Boy Scout land dispute
   - San Diego Union Tribune Friday, April 24, 2011

Siblings in their 80's ordered to leave land where family has lived since Great Depression


  • "Sheriff's deputies rolled in Tuesday to evict two siblings in their 80s from a pastoral piece of land near Lake Henshaw that the family has occupied since the Great Depression."

  • "Fred Baldwin, 85, and his sister, Lillian Guidry, 83, were ordered off the property earlier this month after a six-year court fight with the Boy Scouts, who operate the nearby 900-acre Mataguay Scout Ranch."

  • "The siblings' father, William McKinley Baldwin, homesteaded 160 acres east of the lake in 1932. Disputes about ownership soon followed. The Scouts filed suit in 2006 and a judge ruled in their favor that the Baldwin property line sits several hundred feet west of where they now live.

  • "Efforts to reach an agreement that would allow the siblings to remain on the property for the rest of their lives have been unsuccessful."


Residents, Duarte officials demand compensation over new Edison towers for Tehachapi project
   -  Pasadena Star-News Sept. 17, 2011


  • "Southern California Edison built a massive steel electrical tower about six feet from their property line earlier this year. Since then, the couple has had a hard time thinking of anything else."

  • "Concerned residents and city officials are demanding relief and compensation for several newly built towers along a two-mile corridor in the city."


City of Chino Hills, homeowners counter-sue over property encroachment
   - Inland Valley Daily Bulletin March 20, 2012


  • "CHINO HILLS - A lawsuit arguing that part of a developed backyard is intruding onto this city's property has one family questioning the competency of city officials. Residents Kim and Mike Denton were notified by the city's code enforcement two years ago that 1,574 square feet of their home's backyard on Hunters Gate Circle was encroaching on the city's public open space. City officials said portions of the Denton's fencing, electrical, landscaping, hardscaping, irrigation as well as portions of their pool and spa were on city land."

  • "In response to the suit, city officials filed a cross-complaint in October saying the Dentons were in violation of city code for trespassing and because of this their actions were considered a "public nuisance."

  • "Moreover, the cross-complaint argues the city seeks a "declaration that the title to the city property is vested in the city alone and that the cross-defendants (the Dentons) be declared to have no estate, right, title, easement or interest in the city property ..."


Homes' landscaping edges onto public sand in Newport Beach
   - Los Angeles Times May 6, 2012


  • "California has ordered homeowners along some of Orange County's most coveted coastline to rip out landscaping, sprinklers and other upgrades that have crept steadily seaward [over the property line onto publicly owned land]."

  • "The order from the state Coastal Commission reignites the perennial clash between the government and homeowners up and down the coast who have sought to claim the sand next to their homes and, in so doing, given visitors the impression that the public beach is their private backyard."

  • "In neighborhoods like Venice and the peninsula in Long Beach, the agency's past warnings - which can threaten fines of up to $15,000 a day - have persuaded property owners to yank out their offending plantings".


+  Southern California property line disputes in the news
+  Encroachment problems that could have been avoided
+  An easement misstep that could cost a California city $1 million in legal fees
Property line survey and boundary encroachment disputes occasionally become headlines in the news. Here's a sampling from local news outlets, each found with the search term "Property line". Were these tales of woe avoidable? Exercise caution. Be prudent. Retain the services of an experienced, competent land surveyor.
Construction survey staking project in Fontana, California

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Property Line Surveys

​About the Author:

Douglas Bell, PLS, is a Professional Land Surveyor licensed in four western states, and is a CFedS, a BLM Certified Federal Land Surveyor. He provides a range of property line, ALTA, boundary survey, topographic mapping, easement determination, encroachment investigation, and utility location services.

Mr. Bell provides land surveying services to engineers, architects, attorneys, and other land professionals in the private and public sectors in Southern California, primarily in Los Angeles County, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange County. He can be reached via email:

25 year member of the California Land Surveyors Association
Doug Bell is a CFedS - a Certified Federal Surveyor
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