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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Administrative Certificates of Compliance

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What is an Administrative Certificate of Compliance?

An Administrative Certificate of Compliance (ACC) is a determination by the County that a parcel was created in conformance with the State and County laws in effect at the time the lot was created. It does NOT guarantee that the lot can be developed nor does it create new lots. The application is processed administratively, and, if approved, a certificate must then be recorded in order to be valid.

Who does the research needed for an Administrative Certificate of Compliance?

It is the applicant's responsibility to do the research and assemble necessary historical and legal documents to support each request. Permit Sonoma staff then reviews all of the documentation and verifies whether the lots were created in conformance with applicable state and County laws.

How is the decision to approve or deny an Administrative Certificate of Compliance made?

Requests for an Administrative Certificate of Compliance are made on a case-by-case basis based on the evidence provided, specific findings regarding the subdivision laws in effect at the time the lot was created, and subsequent activities on the parcels in question (examples: mergers, issuance of building permits, Lot Line Adjustments, grant deeds, construction of buildings over the property boundaries, etc.).

Permit Sonoma’s determination on an Administrative Certificate of Compliance can be appealed to the Planning Commission.

Do parcel sizes affect the County's ability to approve Administrative Certificates of Compliance?

Yes, if there are contiguous parcels held under the same ownership. If the parcel is on sewer, it must be a minimum of 5,000 square feet. If the parcels do not meet these minimums, they may be subject to merger.

Do I need a Certificate of Compliance?

Typically, the County does not require Certificates of Compliance unless an application is made for an activity which might require verification of parcel status, such as a Lot Line Adjustment between two underlying parcels. A Certificate of Compliance might also be required when development is proposed and it is unclear whether the parcel is a separate legal parcel from contiguous lands held by the same owner. Most Certificate of Compliance applications are received because a title company would not guarantee title on one or more of the parcels being claimed by the owner.

I own two (or more) contiguous tax lots. Are they separate legal lots that I can sell or develop individually?

Separate tax lots (also known as Assessor’s parcels) are not necessarily separate legal lots. Tax boundaries are created for the benefit and use of the Tax Assessor. They can be created by a parcel being too big to be shown on one Assessor’s map page, being divided by a tax area boundary, having a different tax rate over a portion of the parcel as a result of an Agricultural Preserve Contract or other agreement affecting the assessed value of a portion of the parcel.

Is my parcel a legal lot?

There are many factors that go into the determination of parcel legality. Generally, a lot is considered to have been legally created if it was created after 1913 by a subdivision map or which followed the laws in effect at the time. Some lots created by deed or government patent before March 1967 are legal lots, but they may need to go through the Administrative Certificate of Compliance process for a formal determination. After March 1972, all lot creation requires County subdivision approval. Even if a lot was originally created legally, it may have been merged with adjacent lots by actions of a prior owner. Contact a licensed land surveyor for additional information on lot creation.