Mike Durkee Authors Article Regarding Time Periods As Applicable To Vested Rights Available Under the Subdivision Map Act

Mike Durkee Authors Article Regarding Time Periods As Applicable To Vested Rights Available Under the Subdivision Map Act

ASK THE MAP ACT EXPERT

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Question

Would you please explain the different time periods applicable to the
vested rights available under the Subdivision Map Act?

Discussion

Great question! It is important to understand that the life of the vested
rights relates to, but does not always strictly follow, the life of the map itself. There are
three (3) distinct time periods, each with its own beginning and end:

1.
Vesting Tentative Maps. Vested rights under the Map Act
arise through the approval of a vesting tentative map (even though the laws “vested”
are those in place at application completion). Vesting tentative maps have the
same “life” as regular tentative maps. As discussed in prior articles, the life of a
tentative map can be broken into two general categories: “initial life” and “extension
life.” Upon approval of the vesting tentative map, the Map Act grants an initial life of two
years; a local ordinance can then extend that initial life for one additional year. Gov’t
Code § 66452.6(a). As also discussed in prior articles, there are many opportunities
under the Map Act to secure “extension life” for a tentative map, and hence its vested
rights.

2.
Vesting Final Maps. Although the portion of a vesting tentative
map that is not included in a final map may be extended by the filing of the final map
(using phasing to extend the tentative map), the life of the vested rights for the property
included in that final map itself is very short. The life begins to diminish with the
recording of the final map. Gov’t Code § 66498.5. The life of the vested rights of that
final map is only 1 to 2 years, depending on local ordinances. Id. However, before that
life expires, the applicant may request an additional 1-year extension. Id.

3.
Building Permits. If a building permit for the project is granted
before the expiration of the final map’s vested rights, then the limited life of the vested
rights given to the vesting final map is retained and automatically extended for the
life of the building permit, even if by then the vested life given under the tentative and
final maps is about to or has expired. Typically, building permits would be issued for
different construction throughout the life of the final map. Any active building permit at
the expiration of the final map will retain the final map’s vested rights until the expiration
of the building permit. In the author’s opinion, the building permit extends the vested
rights for the entire final map (“the rights conferred by this chapter shall continue until
the expiration of that permit . .” (§ 66498.5)), not just the building permit’s vested rights.

4.
Vesting Parcel Map. The vested rights of a vesting parcel map
normally have a life equal to the life of a vesting final map – 1 to 2 years, with a 1-year
extension. However, under Government Code section 66428(c), when a parcel map
is otherwise required under the Map Act (for example, four or fewer parcels are being created), the subdivider can nonetheless apply instead for a tentative map, thereby
maximizing the time of the map’s vested rights (as discussed above). This is a very
effective, but little known, strategy where the subdivider is creating four or fewer parcels
but wants to maximize the map’s vested rights (by having the 3 lives discussed above,
instead of just 1).

In these volatile economic times, preserving ones vested rights is essential!

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