Permanent Road Division

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A group of citizens can form a Homeowners Association, a Road Maintenance Association, a CSA Zone of Benefit, or a Permanent Road Division. To form a Homeowners or Road Maintenance Association, an attorney familiar with laws governing such organizations should be consulted. To establish a Permanent Road Division or a CSA Zone of Benefit, residents should contact the Lake County Department of Public Works who can provide information on the programs, a Formation Application and a copy of the program Policy and Procedures Guidelines.

A permanent road division is a geographic area formed pursuant to California Streets and Highways Code, Section 1160, et. Seq. to provide road improvements and road maintenance. If you live on a road not maintained by the County Department of Public Works or some other agency, a petition can be submitted to form a permanent road division to provide the extended service of road improvement and maintenance.

A $350 application fee is required. This deposit will be used to defray the initial costs associated with division formation. Formation charges exceeding the initial $350 deposit can be recovered from the division's first year assessment. There may be additional costs incurred in order to meet formation requirements, such as charges by an engineer to prepare a map or legal description. These charges are paid directly to the service provider. The division must also pay a fee to the California State Board of Equalization, based on their fee schedule.

Once established, a division will be charged annually as follows:

  • A negotiated fee (approximately $1.00 to $3.00 per parcel) to the Auditor for processing costs;
  • The cost of an insurance policy covering the Division's roads;
  • Administration fees which are specific to the work required in each division, fees include:
    • The cost of staff time spent administering the division is paid to the Administration Division of Public Works. Administration includes such activities as processing purchase orders, preparing bid documents and contracts, and reviewing and monitoring the budget for each division. Because this is a direct billing for time worked, this cost will vary greatly with each division and is dependent upon the number of calls and issues requiring staff involvement;
    • The cost associated with the budget preparation, monthly reconciliation, and general division activities are spread to all divisions;
  • While there is no "average" division, annual division administration fees usually range from $1000 to $5000 per division per year.
    • Any and all road work is paid from each respective division's account. Road work within a division is governed by the County's Informal Bidding Procedure Ordinance and Public Works contract law. Licensing, Bonding and compliance with prevailing wage standards are required.

If a 2/3 majority of the property owners are willing to sign irrevocable offers of dedication and those controlling the easements is obtained, the formation can proceed. Noticed public hearings are held by the Board of Supervisors where protests can be heard. If the division formation is approved despite the protests of an individual parcel owner, that owner will be taxed along with all other parcel owners in the division.

There is one type of fee that can be levied in the permanent road division program, a special tax.

A special tax requires a 2/3 majority approval of the registered voters voting within the division boundaries. A special tax can be set at a maximum and levied each year at any amount up to the maximum; it can be established with an escalator; it can also be established with a "sunset clause". Any proposed increase exceeding the approved maximum amount would require a 2/3 majority approval in another election.

As part of formation, the members of the division elect an Advisory Committee and identify a Key Contact to act as liaison to the County. Once appointed by the Board, members of this committee serve in an advisory capacity and, as such, are subject to the provisions of the Brown Act.

The Advisory Committee consists of an odd number of benefiting property owners, usually 3 or 5, depending upon the size of the division. Once the division is formed, the Department of Public Works will solicit for volunteers or nominees to serve on the Advisory Committee. If there are an even number of names submitted, an election will be held. For the first election, one ballot will be sent to each individual landowner within the boundaries of the division. All ballots received by the County within a specified time limit will be tallied. The specified number of persons (usually 3 or 5) receiving the greatest amount of votes will serve. If there are only 3 or 5 names submitted, there will be no election and these three or five will serve on the Advisory Committee. All elections after the first election will not be set up by County staff, but, by the membership of the division with the assistance of the Advisory Committee. The bylaws will set forth the terms of office.

The Engineering Division of the Public Works will perform annual safety inspections, give recommendations for correcting any hazards that may exist and the respective costs for said recommendations.

The Advisory Committee is required to meet at least four (4) times each year. All meetings are open to the public and must be noticed accordingly. The committee develops a recommended budget, including specific projects to be completed and the amount of the tax to be charged to each property within the division. All members of the division have the right to speak and vote on these issues.

Public Works staff presents the division's proposed budgets to the Board for approval annually. Any division member may appear before the Board to speak on the proposed tax and budget. If an increase above the approved maximum special tax is proposed, it would be subject to the approval process described above.

Once approved by the Board and any required registered voter election, the tax is added to the property tax bill for each parcel. The funds are collected with the property taxes and deposited into an interest bearing account for the use of the division. All funds are administered by the Administration Division of Public Works. Monies are not placed in the General Fund and cannot be used for other purposes.

Each division will have its own Bylaws.

The Department of Public Works will send a sample set of Bylaws to a member of the Advisory Committee shortly after the creation of an Advisory committee. The Advisory committee will review the sample set, make any changes deemed necessary, and return a copy with the changes to the Department of Public Works. A finalized set of Bylaws will be made up with the recommended changes and a copy forwarded to the Advisory Committee for general membership approval. The finalized set will be brought before the Board of Supervisors for approval. Any property owner may appear before the Board of Supervisors to discuss any aspect of the recommended Bylaws. Upon Board approval, the Bylaws become effective.

All mailings will be made through the Administration Division of the Department of Public Works. All costs for the mailings will be charged directly to the division.

At this time there are no standards established for division roads, although compliance with Fire Safety Regulations is recommended. The members of the division determine the level of improvements and/or maintenance for roads within their division, subject to approval of the Board of Supervisors.

All moneys received from the division:

  • Belong to the division
  • Are placed in a special account for the division
  • Earn interest on balance
  • Never are County funds

Any funds budgeted but not used within the fiscal year are carried over into the division's account for the next year. If budgeted projects are not completed, the funds will be available for the division's use in the next year.  Division funds cannot be used for any other purpose other than work in the division and costs associated with operation and administration of the division. An exception would be if a division were to dissolve with a balance remaining in their account. In that case, the excess funds at the time of dissolution would revert to the County General Fund.

Road Associations shall not levy assessments once the division has been formed, and the County is still assessing properties within the division.

Back assessments collected by the Homeowners Association for road maintenance purposes are to be transferred to the affected formed permanent road division.

One requirement of formation is that offers of dedication or easements be granted to the County. Once completed, this action establishes the road as a public road covered by the conditions and stipulations of the California Vehicle Code (CVC). Stipulations include:

  • access to the road cannot be restricted (no gates or any other barriers);
  • signage is limited to guide/directional signs (no regulatory signs, such as speed limit signs)
  • No obstructions may be placed on or under the surface of the roadway which will impede the speed of the vehicles in such a way as to cause discomfort or harm to persons in a vehicle (such as speed bumps, speed dips or undulations), however, rumble strips and delineators are permitted;
  • all road work must be completed by licensed, bonded contractors who comply with prevailing wage standards. All work under $100,000 is governed by the Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Procedures Ordinance and by Public Works contract law. Work projects will be put out for public bid and award made to the qualified low bidder. All work under $25,000 may be performed by County forces.
  • volunteer work is limited and requires preparation of documentation prior to the start of work.

The California Vehicle Code states that travel on all public roads shall be at a prudent speed that in no way endangers property or life. The California Highway Patrol is responsible for public roads and will respond to calls on division roads.

The permanent road divisions are required to contribute to the purchase of a liability insurance policy covering all division roads.

A permanent road division can be dissolved by initiation of the Board of Supervisors or by initiation of the property owners or residents. A petition signed by fifty-one percent (51%) of the registered voters in the division is required to initiate a dissolution.

If formation of a division was a condition of approval on a final map, a waiver of that condition must be obtained from the Planning Department before dissolution can proceed.

A filing fee of $200 is required to initiate the dissolution process. The actual costs to the County, including any fees charged by the State Board of Equalization, will be taken from the initial payment. Any costs over $200 must be paid by the division before the dissolution will be recorded and may result in additional charges to the division.
            
Any funds held in a division account at the time of dissolution will be used for expenses related to the dissolution. If there are funds remaining once the dissolution is complete, they will revert to the County General Fund.
            
Since irrevocable offers of dedication exist, the road will remain a public road. The County may choose to accept the road into the County Maintained Mileage System or the County may choose to vacate the road, returning it to private use. The residents may request that the Department of Public Works vacate the roads, however, the road will remain public unless and until the Board of Supervisors take formal action to vacate the road.

The subdivider of your subdivision could have built the roads to a higher standard and offered the maintenance to the County. But, the subdivider chose to build the roads to a lower standard and have the property owners maintain the road(s).  The charges to a permanent road division are a special tax and are not based on the value of your property.

No, the Association would no longer levy charges for road maintenance or provide road maintenance services, so long as the division is providing that service.

No! Under a permanent road division there are no plans or intent to widen, straighten, or level the roads unless provided through an improvement district formed for such purposes.