Privately Maintained Roads: Privately maintained roads are roads that have not been accepted in the County Maintained Road System by the Board of Supervisors; and therefore are not maintained by the County. The County is prohibited from spending public funds to maintain non-County maintained roads. Road maintenance for privately maintained roads is the responsibility of those using the road. See Civil Code Section 845 Opens a New Window. . Also, check your title insurance policy; there may be a Road Maintenance Association that was formed in order to provide road maintenance for a privately maintained road. If a Road Maintenance Association exists, contact the Road Maintenance Association to request road maintenance work. If a Road Maintenance Association does not exist, one can be created. See Road Maintenance Association Formation Information & Recommendation Handout for more information.
The majority of the roads in unincorporated County are not maintained by the County. The decision to make a road County maintained is with the property owners that use the road. The procedure to make a County maintained road is as follows:
1) 100% of the underlying landowners must be willing to grant public road easements to the County. However, in some rare instances, a public right of way may exist and therefore there is no need to grant pubic road easements;
2) the road must be fully improved to County standards; and
3) 2/3 of the properties that use the road must vote YES to establish an assessment district to fund future road maintenance.
After all three of the above criteria are met, the Department would then recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the road be accepted into the County Maintained Road System. See Permanent Road Divisions Opens a New Window. for more on the procedures.
Private Easements versus Public Road Easements: The nature of a road easement determines who can use a non-county maintained road. If the road has a public easement dedicated to the County, the public has the right to use the road and road cannot be gated. If the road does not have a public dedication, then the public may be excluded from using the road. Easements can be found by reviewing title reports, if available; otherwise easements can be researched at the County Recorder’s Office or by utilizing the services of a title company.
Speed limits for non-county maintained roads: Pursuant to California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21107, law enforcement officers can enforce speed limits on non-county maintained roads in unincorporated areas of the County. The process requires a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors and a mailing of notices.
In order for the law enforcement officers to conduct enforcement patrols, the Board of Supervisors must adopt a resolution to that effect. Vehicle Code enforcement in the unincorporated area of the County is the responsibility of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Approval of the resolution by the Board of Supervisors does not constitute a commitment by the CHP or Sheriff’s Department to provide enforcement patrols on a regular basis.
Speed limits are established to provide motorists with clear direction to drive at a speed that facilitates safe and orderly flow of traffic under normal conditions. California has a “Basic Speed Law” in CVC Section 22350 that states “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
Unless otherwise posted, CVC Section 22349 specifies that the maximum speed limit for undivided two lane roads is 55 mph.
CVC Section 22352 sets the following statutory speed limits (which may be posted or unposted):
- 15 mph in alleys, at blind intersections and at blind railroad crossings
- 25 mph in residence and business districts, school zones and playground areas when children are present, and at senior citizen facilities.
Roads that do not qualify for a 15 MPH or 25 MPH speed limit under CVC Section 22352 will require a Engineering and Traffic Survey to establish a speed limit. It is the responsibility of the Road Maintenance Association or Home Owners Association to provide an Engineering and Traffic Survey and any other documents necessary for the Board of Supervisors to establish the speed limit and allow speed enforcement, as well as to install speed limit signs in accordance with the latest edition of the California Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
Additional references: Caltrans California Manual for Setting Speed Limits (July 2019)
Questions: If you have questions regarding forming a Road Maintenance Association, contact the Land Use Division at 707.445.7205. Staff can provide you with templates and sample documents in order to help you form a Road Maintenance Association.
If you have questions regarding forming a Permanent Road Division, contact the Land Use Division at 707.445.7205.