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. 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.
Petition the County to take on maintenance of a Private Road: 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 public 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 (Permanent Road Division) 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 for more information 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.
Easement Agreements: As part of a subdivision or commercial development a developer may be required to improve a privately maintained road. These improvements may in turn require an easement from a neighboring property owner. To avoid acquiring an easement before the developer’s project is approved, the developer may enter into an agreement with the neighboring property owner(s) whereby the easement(s) is to be obtained only after the project is approved by the County. See the Easement Agreement Template for more information.
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. 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.
On November 3, 2020, the Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance No. 2658 (codified in County Code Section 423-1 et seq.) which created an “opt in” program to allow law enforcement to enforce the California Vehicle Code on non-county maintained roads. See Petition for more information on the procedures.
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.