Final Map Approval In California

During the subdivision process, the tentative map provides notice of the intended subdivision and sets into motion a series of events, which result in a coordinated planning effort. ( 66424.5, 66426; Youngblood v. Board of Supervisors (1978) 22 Cal. 3d 644, 652 [150 Cal. Rptr. 242, 586 P.2d 556]; Trent Meredith, Inc. v. City of Oxnard (1981) 114 Cal. App. 3d 317, 325 [170 Cal. Rptr. 685].) After all certifications, approvals and reports have been obtained and all conditions identified and met, approval of a "final map" is sought. ( 66433 et seq.) If the subdivider has not complied with the conditions of the tentative map, the local governmental body must refuse approval of the final map. ( 66473.) Approval of the final map is an important step, which helps to perfect title for the subdivider. The final map, when approved, contains the record title information. ( 66434, 66436.) Delay in the approval of the final map causes multiple problems for the subdivider, including the possibility of the expiration of the tentative map. If the tentative map is allowed to expire, the approval process must be initiated again. If there has been a lapse of time between the approval of the tentative map and the final map, and the tentative map is allowed to expire, changes in zoning laws or legislative policies might mean significant burdens or barriers for the subdivider. (See 66452.6, 66463.5.) In 1982, the state Legislature proposed Assembly Bill No. 3425 to correct a perceived abuse of power under the Act by a local governmental body. Apparently a particular community withheld approval of a subdivider's final map because the subdivider was unable to complete an off-site improvement which was a condition of the tentative map when the local body failed to acquire sufficient title to the property on which the improvement was required. This was the catalyst for Assembly Bill No. 3425. (Assem. Com. on Local Government, Analysis of Assem. Bill No. 3425 (1981-1982 Reg. Sess.) as amended Apr. 29, 1982; Sen. Republican Caucus, Analysis of Assem. Bill No. 3425 (1981-1982 Reg. Sess.); Cal. Dept. of Housing & Community Development mem. (Aug. 3, 1982).) The Assembly Committee on Local Government Report on Assembly Bill No. 3425 explains "AB 3425 addresses the above-discussed problem by prohibiting a city or county from refusing to act on a final map because the installation of off-site improvements has not been accomplished due to the fact that neither the subdivider or [sic] the agency has acquired the necessary interest in the land to allow the installation of the improvements." (Assem. Com. on Local Government, Analysis of Assem. Bill No. 3425, supra, at pp. 1-2.) The committee reports acknowledge a local governmental body has two options under the Act in connection with required offsite improvements. One, it may require all improvements be completed before the final map is approved. or two, it may approve the final map even though all required improvements have not been completed. It may choose the latter only if it secures a mutual agreement with the subdivider to complete the improvements as provided under the Act. ( 66462.) Section 66462 provides for a mutual agreement between the local body and the subdivider for completion of the improvements and the posting of security to ensure the work is done. The concern that generated the enactment of section 66462.5 is that a city or county could choose the first option, requiring completion of all improvements before approval of the final map, even when completion is made impossible as a result of the local body's own failure to obtain sufficient title. The analysis of the Assembly Committee on Local Government notes a delay in approval of the final map could result in "substantial costs to the subdivider and may result in the expiration of the tentative map." (Assem. Com. on Local Government, Analysis of Assem. Bill No. 3425, supra, at p. 1.)