A "parcel map" is a land division map processed through the Planning and Natural Resources Department resulting in the creation of four (4) or fewer lots, which is specifically authorized by the State Subdivision Map Act and Chapter 18.25 of the Kern County Land Division Ordinance. In the case of commercial, industrial, and agricultural zoned property, more than four lots can be created by parcel map. Those exceptions can be determined from the list of exceptions for processing subdivision tract maps in Section 18.15.020 of the Kern County Land Division Ordinance.
Applications for a parcel map may be obtained at the Planning and Natural Resources Department public counter, mailed upon request, or downloaded from the Department website. A licensed land surveyor or registered civil engineer will submit the application on behalf of the property owner. Due to the technical nature of the mapping process, state law requires that the parcel map be prepared by a licensed land surveyor or registered civil engineer licensed to survey in the state of California.
Once an application is submitted, it will be reviewed to determine if it is complete. An application package will consist of the following:
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that an environmental study be prepared for some types of projects. Often, parcel maps are found to be exempt from CEQA; however, some parcel maps require a more extensive environmental review. The environmental study can take the form of a Negative Declaration, a Mitigated Negative Declaration, or an Environmental Impact Report. If the Planning and Natural Resources Director determines that an environmental study will be required, the applicant will be required to submit a completed Environmental Information Form. Technical reports may also be required. These may include: a biota report, an archaeological survey, a soils report, a geologic hazard report, and a groundwater analysis, among other studies/reports. These studies will be used to assess the existing physical condition of the property and to determine the impacts the parcel map may have upon the environment.
After a parcel map application has been formally accepted as complete, the map is sent to several governmental agencies, utility companies, and the public to review and comment. A Notice of Opportunity for Public Hearing or a Notice of Public Hearing is sent to all of the property owners within 500 to 1,000 feet of the site and is published in the local newspaper. A parcel map is not scheduled for a public hearing unless one is requested by the applicant or any other interested person or is processed concurrently with a discretionary action such as a zone variance, zone modification, or precise development plan. (If an environmental study is required, the map is not sent out for review until the environmental document has been prepared.) All of the comments received during this "review period" are compiled by the Planning and Natural Resources Department. A list of recommended conditions of approval and recommended findings will then be prepared to ensure all local and state requirements are satisfied. This recommendation, along with copies of the comments the Department has received, is known as the "Advance Report." The Advance Report is sent to the applicant fifteen (15) days before final action is scheduled on the parcel map. This time is provided so that the applicant can review the draft recommendation and discuss it with the Department or any commenting agency. Applicants are strongly encouraged to carefully read the Advance Report and contact the staff planner about any questions or concerns, prior to the action date. On a predetermined date, action is taken to conditionally approve or deny the parcel map. At this point, if the parcel map is approved, it is considered to be "tentatively approved".
Conditions of approval must be satisfied before the parcel map can record. These conditions will often require: improvements and dedications be made for roads, drainage issues be resolved, fire protection be provided, water and sewer service be supplied, park fees be paid, or other fees be paid or improvements constructed.
The parcel map process consists of two (2) distinct phases. The "tentative" process and the "final" process. The Planning and Natural Resources Department acts as the Advisory Agency. The Advisory Agency is responsible for processing the parcel map from its initial submittal through the tentative approval. The County Surveyor is responsible for processing the parcel map from tentative approval through to the recordation of the final parcel map. The Engineering, Surveying and Permit Services Department acts as the County Surveyor. Once a parcel map is tentatively approved, the applicant works with the County Surveyor to demonstrate compliance with the conditions of approval. Once the final parcel map is approved in its final form by the County Surveyor and all conditions have been satisfied, the final parcel map is then ready to be recorded. Checklists containing requirements for submitting a final map for checking and submittal of an original for recording are available on the Engineering, Surveying, and Permit Services Department website.
An applicant can expect to receive an initial written response within thirty (30) days of submittal of the application for preliminary review. Once the application is deemed complete and formally accepted, action to conditionally approve or deny the map will occur within fifty (50) calendar days. However, if an environmental study is required, this time is lengthened considerably. (Typically, ninety (90) to one hundred and twenty (120) days are added onto this process.) Once a parcel map is tentatively approved, processing of the final map varies. It is dependent upon you and your surveyor’s or engineer’s ability to satisfy the conditions of approval and record the map. Once the parcel map is recorded, the property is subdivided; the land division has occurred. It will often take several weeks for the County’s records (Assessor maps, Surveyor’s case maps, etc.) to be updated to reflect the the new subdivision.
The life of an approved tentative parcel map is for an initial period of thirty-six (36) months from the effective date of its approval. An applicant or their representative may also request up to three (3) extensions of time, the total of which cannot exceed thirty-six (36) months. Additional extensions can be obtained through map phasing with eligible off-site improvements. Such extensions cannot extend the life of the map more than ten (10) years from its initial approval. Statutory extensions are also occasionally granted by the State allowing additional time to record the final map.
The first step in subdividing land is to determine if such a proposal is feasible. Contact our Department to find the zoning and general plan designation for the site. This will determine if the land can be subdivided, and will determine the minimum lot size. Occasionally, it is necessary to obtain a zone change or other discretionary approvals prior to, or concurrent with, a parcel map.
Upon determining that it is feasible to subdivide the land, the next step is to hire a licensed land surveyor or registered civil engineer to work with the Department to ensure that approval of the tentative parcel map and recordation of the final parcel map comply with all local and state requirements.
Should you have any questions regarding the County's parcel map process, please contact the Department at (661) 862-8600 and ask to speak to a planner assigned to the Land Division Unit.
FORM 709 (2/2017)