The property we are currently renting (and may possibly buy) has an easement placed around the edges of the property (corner lot) for a sidewalk to be installed. This is an older house (built mid 40s) and the easement was placed when the house was sold two times ago in 1992. Most homes in the neighborhood do not have sidewalks and do not have easements even though many have been sold recently (and to create ones would mean having to remove parts of buildings on many lots). The county has told the owners there are no plans now or in the foreseeable future for a sidewalk to be installed.
How difficult is it to get an easement removed? Having the only sidewalk for many lots around would look silly (there is a permanent curb and paved gutter so it isn't like the dirt just meets the street) and the sidewalk would end flat into the fences of the lots on either side of us. If we did purchase the house we would like to put up a small fence as people like to cut through the yard. How would one go about this if it is possible? We live in Salida, California (unincorporated city in Stanislaus County).
3 Answers from Attorneys
Easements can be abandoned sometimes, if not used for 20 years. I work with easements, but I am unsure if I could do this, and I may have to go to court which might be expensive. I would have to know who put the easement there, prove it wasn't being used, etc IF I understand the facts correctly. How badly do you want the easement removed and why? Contact me directly by email.
Daniel Bakondi, Esq.
The Law Office of Daniel Bakondi, APLC
870 Market Street, Suite 1161
San Francisco CA 94102
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Civil Code sections 887.010 to 887.090 allow the owner of property burdened by an easement to apply to a court for an order finding that the easement has been abandoned. Among the several conditions that must be pled and proven are that the easement has not been used for 20 years. However, such an action cannot be brought against a political subdivision of the state, such as Stanislaus County; see Civil Code section 880.240(c). I assume the county is the holder of this easement. Therefore, I think you are stuck with negotiating with the county, and I would not do that without the property owner's approval, or until after you buy the property.
I agree with Mr. Whipple's analysis. It would appear from your post that the sidewalk easement was dedicated in favor of the public, and not a separate private party. I've never seen a successful argument made that a public entity can abandon an easement from nonuse, once it is dedicated and accepted by the public entity.
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