California Department of Transportation

Right of Way Engineering &
Locally Funded Projects Guidelines

State of California
California State Transportation Agency
Department of Transportation District 4
Division of Right of Way
Office of Right of Way Engineering, Surveys and Mapping Services

Rev - March 2014

Local Public Agency Coordination


This webpage is intended to be a one-stop source of the latest LPAC Guidelines. As of July 1, 2013 the previous version of the guidelines, Right of Way Engineering & Locally Funded Projects (LPAC Booklet CD), is no longer valid for new projects.

Please note that we have chosen to call the updates "Guidelines". Even the most rigid requirements are subject to revision given the right circumstances. Please discuss any potential variation from the guidelines with the LPAC Project Surveyor assigned to your project before actually doing the work

These guidelines go into effect immediately. However, in most cases the updates will NOT be retroactive and will only apply to projects that are started after the effective date. Consultants have the option of staying with the old guidelines or switching to the new ones. As before, coordinate with LPAC first.

We have no intention of making changes that have a negative impact on existing contracts. However, some of the updates will have an effect on budget and schedule for future projects. Contact the LPAC Branch Chief for further information.

Responsibilities: Consultant Surveyor vs. LPAC

The Consultant PLS/RCE in charge is the final authority, and has the responsibility, as to the professional content of the right of way documents. However, LPAC is the final authority as to the acceptability of the right of way documents for inclusion in State files.

LPAC Mission Statement

The Local Public Agency Coordination (LPAC) Branch is within the California Department of Transportation, District 4, Division of Right of Way, Office of Right of Way Engineering, Surveys and Mapping Services. LPAC is tasked primarily with oversight of the work performed by Transit Authorities, Local Agencies, and their surveying/mapping consultants (collectively referred to as "TAs") in the preparation and delivery of Right of Way Engineering documents.

Within the framework of oversight, the LPAC Branch has three specific functions:
  1. To provide Quality Assurance by monitoring and reviewing the work of the TAs for conformity to Caltrans procedures and standards, and for compliance with the TA's Quality Assurance/Quality Control program;
  2. To assist TAs in the appropriate delivery of various right of way mapping products and real property transfer instruments in a form acceptable to the State;
  3. To review the various right of way engineering documents prepared by the TA and/or its consultant for adequacy in transferring and documenting transfers of real property rights to and from the State.
Click here to see the full text of the Mission Statement.


To facilitate timeliness and efficiency, LPAC will review only submittals that meet the following criteria:
  1. Prerequisites are complete and acceptable;
  2. Submittal is complete and includes all of the supplemental submittal requirements
  3. Each document has been thoroughly checked by a qualified professional in accordance with the submitter's approved Quality Control Plan; and
  4. All of the comments from previous reviews have been satisfactorily addressed.
A copy of all formal reviews, including rejections, comments, and acceptances, will be sent to the Caltrans Project Manager, the Caltrans Design Senior, the Caltrans Right of Way Agent, and the representative of the appropriate Transit Authority or Local Agency.


The professional that signs/seals the document is responsible for accuracy and completeness of the document. LPAC's acceptance is based on spot-checks that appear to indicate 1) the information shown is correct and corresponds with that shown on corresponding documents; and 2) the format of the document is acceptable for inclusion in the State records. An acceptance is neither a confirmation nor a guarantee that the information in the document is complete and/or correct.

Project Start-up

Kick-off meeting

TA surveying/mapping consultants will meet with LPAC personnel prior to beginning any mapping effort for a State Highway project.

Kick-off Meeting Topics

Quality Control Plan

A primary function of LPAC is to monitor and review the work of the TAs and their consultants for compliance with the TA's Quality Assurance/Quality Control program. The consultant is expected to have a written Quality Control plan specific to the development of Right of Way Engineering documents. Many of the components of these Guidelines are designed to be incorporated verbatim into Quality Control Plans.

RWE Phase

Pre-Project Record of Survey

A Pre-Project Record of Survey is required if material discrepancy is found in the existing State right of way or in the position(s) of monuments and/or lines that control the location of the State right of way. Additionally, a Record of Survey may be used to reference the locations of existing monuments in compliance with Section 8771(b) of the Business and Professions Code. On locally funded projects, the Record of Survey is submitted to LPAC for review and comment first and to the County second. The submittal to the County addresses all of LPAC's comments.

Construction Survey Control Map (CSCM)

A Construction Survey Control Map (CSCM) is no longer required. The information shown on a CSCM duplicates the information required for the Project Control sheets in the PS&E. Refer to Chapter 2-2.4 of the Plans Preparation Manual.

Examples of PS&E Project Control Sheets:

Base Map

The Base Map is an electronic CAD file that contains only the pre-project landnet (e.g., existing right of way, existing topology, existing property lines, existing ownership). The Base Map is the foundation for the Appraisal Map, Record Map, and other Right of Way Engineering maps. Hard Copy Maps, which for decades have been the first step in developing project mapping, are no longer used.

  1. Prerequisites
    Functionally, the Project Control Report is reviewed by the District 4 Office of Field Surveys and New Technologies (Surveys) and the ABC submittal is reviewed by the Headquarters Office of Photogrammetry (OoP). LPAC is available to help determine the appropriate contact in each of these groups. However, the consultant is responsible for obtaining the necessary approvals. LPAC will begin review of the Base Map after the approved prerequisites are received.
    1. Project Control Report (See Base Map Checklist Definitions)
    2. ABC Acceptance Letter (See Base Map Checklist)
  2. Base Map Checklist
  3. Base Map Checklist Definitions
  4. Submittal Requirements Specific to Base Map
    On projects that are designed in-house by Caltrans, the Base Map is an electronic file that is not plotted until it is incorporated into an Appraisal or other Map. However, on locally funded projects, the Base Map is broken into sheets and submitted electronically to facilitate review by LPAC. See Map Submittal Requirements.
  5. Base Map Examples and Template
    1. Example of Base Map Index Sheet - to be developed
    2. Example of Base Map Individual Sheet - to be developed
    3. AutoCAD Civil 3D Drawing Template - to be developed
  6. Map Submittal Requirements
  7. Base Map Supplemental Submittal Requirements
    1. Traverse Reports
      1. Design Lines
      2. Pre-project Right of Way Lines
    2. Details of the following submittal requirements are found in Base Map Checklist Definitions.
      1. Reference Maps and Deeds
      2. Land Net Adjustment Report
      3. Right of Way Retracement Narrative
      4. 8771(b) Conformance Statement
      5. Record of Survey - Pre-Project
    3. Base Map Acceptance
      Acceptance of the existing conditions shown on the Base Map is a prerequisite to review of the Appraisal Map. Further review of the Base Map is generally unwarranted unless changes are made in delineating the existing conditions.

Appraisal Map

The Appraisal Map is developed using the Base Map as a foundation. The Appraisal Map contains all of the information necessary to determine the location and dimensions of the post-project right of way line and the acquisition parcels. The Appraisal Map is used by the appraisers in determining property values, by the right of way agents as an exhibit in negotiating with property owners, and by the scrivener in preparing legal descriptions. All of the information needed by these three disciplines is shown on the Appraisal Map.

  1. Prerequisites
    1. Accepted Base Map
  2. Appraisal Map Checklist - to be developed
  3. Appraisal Map Checklist Definitions - to be developed
    1. Grantor Boxes - to be developed
    2. Parcel Numbers - to be developed
  4. Map Submittal Requirements
  5. Appraisal Map Supplemental Submittal Requirements
    1. Parcel List - Template and Examples
    2. Preliminary Reports - to be developed
    3. Easement Statement

Section 83 Parcels

Parcels that are to be acquired by the State by application of Section 83 of the Streets and Highways code are given a parcel number during the RWE Phase. Section 83 parcels are also included in the Right of Way Certification.

  1. Section 83 intent letters are written by LPAC at the request of the consultant or TA. Allow a minimum of two weeks to prepare the letter and obtain the necessary signatures. A plat showing the dimensions of the Section 83 parcel is attached to the intent letter.
  2. Example of Section 83 Plat - to be developed

Legal Descriptions

During the RWE Phase, legal descriptions are prepared for the parcels to be acquired by the Local Agency and for any Resolutions of Necessity, if any. Legal descriptions for several other purposes are discussed under the Closeout Phase.

  1. Prerequisites
    1. Accepted Appraisal Map
  1. Style
    A description of the outline of a certain area is the proper grouping of words which delineates one specific piece of land and which cannot apply to any other piece of land. -Gurdon H. Wattles

    Commonly used description writing styles are acceptable, provided the following requirements are met:
    1. The style is documented in the consultant's written Quality Control Plan specific to the preparation of RWE documents. A sample legal description of sufficient complexity to include most situations is adequate for the Quality Control Plan.
    2. A single, uniform writing style is used for every description in the entire project;
    3. The use of the term "radial line" conforms to the definition that a radial line is in the direction away from the center of the arc;
    4. The preamble cites the deed that vests title in the owner, and, for lots and parcels, the map filed for record that created the lot or parcel;
    5. Calls are made to the document that created the existing right of way line for every course that is coincident with the existing right of way line;
    6. The Appraisal Map is used to illustrate the parcels for appraisal and acquisition purposes. A separate plat is not required. Separate plats are normally not reviewed.
  1. Clauses - to be developed
    1. Underlying fee
    2. No Charge for Recording
    3. Waiver of Damages
    4. Easement language
    5. Access Control

RON - to be developed

Certificate of Sufficiency - to be developed

Right of Way Certification - to be developed

Survey Engineer File (SEF) - to be developed

Closeout Phase - to be developed

Record Map

Legal Descriptions

  1. When Used
    1. Transfer document
    2. Transfers of Jurisdiction
    3. Excess Lands
    4. Director's Deeds
    5. Relinquishments
    6. JUAs/CCUAs

Section 83 Quitclaim Documents

Post-construction Record of Survey and Monumentation

As-Built Plans