Napa Lot Line Adjustments and Involuntary Mergers

By Tom Adams and Mark Phillips

The Napa County Public Works Department is in the process of preparing amendments to the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinance as it relates to lot line adjustments and certificates of compliance. The changes originally proposed by staff were minor and did not warrant comments. However, during the “stakeholder” review of the changes, the Napa County Farm Bureau suggested that Napa County take this opportunity to amend the merger ordinance to implement the Napa County specific enabling legislation in the Subdivision Map Act (“Map Act”) the state approved in 1997 in recognition of Napa’s extraordinary agricultural land value.

Under the Map Act, Napa County can adopt an ordinance that would authorize the County to require the “merger” of an undeveloped “substandard parcel” as a condition for issuance of a permit or development approval for a contiguous parcel located in the agricultural zoning district and held in common ownership on or after January 1, 1998   A “substandard parcel” is one  that does not meet the current minimum parcel size; generally 40 acres on the valley floor and 160 acres everywhere else.  There are certain exemptions under the Map Act for:

  • Parcels that were created before 1/1/1997 that have been recognized by a certificate of compliance or conditional certificate of compliance.
  • Parcels created by a recorded subdivision or parcel map on or after 12/29/1955.
  • Parcels lawfully created by Record of Survey prior to 2/27/1969.
  • Parcels that have had a consolidated legal description that includes the merger of any underlying parcels that may exist.

(See Government Code Section 66451.22)

County staff is recommending that the Napa County Board of Supervisors refer this request to its legislative subcommittee for consideration. Given the impact that this could have on property values if the County decides to adopt these provisions, property owners should be advised to contact legal counsel to take the necessary steps to confirm that they either meet the exceptions or take other actions necessary to prevent or decrease the likelihood of being subjected to involuntary merger in the future.