Surveyor's Comments

Items of interest

September 19, 2017


I would like to provide an update from the Washington County Surveyor's Office since I have been acting as the interim County Surveyor for nine months and have recently been appointed as the County Surveyor. It has been an exciting and challenging adjustment from my previous roles within the County and I hope you have observed consistency in our services, thoroughness in our reviews, and acceptable timelines similar to those provided prior to the significant position changes that occurred at the beginning of the year. As a result of three momentous retirements, the development review section of the County Surveyor's Office has all new people in its various positions. Although Sean Draeger and Kevin Buckel remain in the office, each of them have since been promoted and are now taking on new roles. Sean is now the development review supervisor and Kevin is performing plat and survey reviews. These two promotions led to the recent re-hiring of Sam Stillwell and the hiring Pa Saejow. Sam will be providing the services formerly completed by Kevin, and Pa will perform survey and plat reviews previously performed by John Kidd who temporarily filled in when Rex retired. Originally, John worked in the development review section and recently did a great job transitioning back into that role;however, he has since been transferred back to the Walnut Street Center to temporarily oversee the civil survey section. With these changes, I believe the development review staff is now relatively static and am confident in each of their abilities to exceed the presumed level of service and to continue providing thorough and efficient reviews. Thank you for your collaborative efforts during this transitionary period.

I also want to make you aware of some changes being made regarding Subdivision and Partition Plats.  The highlights to this update are shown in Red below.

Beginning October 1, 2017, Conveyance of fee title to property will no longer be approved on Subdivision or Partition Plats;as a result, deeds will need to be prepared, executed and recorded to convey fee title to a City, homeowners association, etc. In an effort to facilitate the recording of plats as well as the conveyances of fee title to Tracts and other properties required by some cities, the County Surveyor's Office has created the attached document that is to be executed by a City when signing mylar. Our office will require this document to be submitted prior to executing any County approvals or the recording of plats.Easements can, and likely should, be granted and shown on plats as normal.

After reviewing of a number of recent plats, our office anticipates that certain cities will continue to require fee title of some Tracts to be conveyed to them, or that some Tracts may be required to be conveyed to a homeowner's association (Washington County never acquires fee title to Tracts, only public easements over them).  Based on this assumption, it is our expectation that the attached document will allow a City to comfortably progress a plat to its final recording stage without the conveyance of properties holding it up. If a City wants to oversee the future conveyance of land in a plat, they can do so by only signing and approving a plat after necessary documents have been prepared and executed to their liking. When such City is confident that their desires are met, they can fill in the attached document and sign it along with the mylar. The surveyor, title company, etc. can then submit the documents and mylar to our office. We are offering to collect and confirm that the number of required documents have been presented and then move forward with the recording of the plat by submitting the plat and associated documents at the same time to the recorder's office. I have met with other departments, and have worked out the details on the County's end to efficiently get a plat recorded. Basically, since taxes are checked and paid prior to a plat recording and the conveyance is taking place simultaneously, the certificate noted in item 4 below will be provided at the same time by doing these recordings together. Otherwise, if a City wants to record their documents on their own after a plat records, they will need to go through the normal certification process.     

This change in how fee title is conveyed should facilitate consistency in declarations and plat notes, as well has facilitating and amending aspirations of the County's cartography, assessment and taxation, and recording departments. The following are just a few of the many reasons this change is being implemented:

1.It is becoming more subjective as to whether a simple plat note, adding conveyance language in the Declaration or a combination thereof, constitutes the actual conveyance of property. Making this change eliminates any debate.

2.It is ambiguous as to whether or not a city planning/engineering signature for approval of a plat meets criteria in ORS 93.808. A properly executed deed will certainly accomplish this. 

93.808 Approval of governmental unit required to record certain instruments. An instrument conveying title or interest to the State of Oregon or to a county, city or other political subdivision in this state may not be recorded unless the instrument carries an indication of approval of the conveyance by this state or the political subdivision accepting title or interest. [1999 c.654 §2]

3.Plat notes and declarations do not have required consideration language for the transfer of title or the recording of the document/plat.  

93.030 …instruments of conveyance… (2) All instruments conveying…fee title to any real estate…shall state on the face of the instruments the true and actual consideration… (5) An instrument conveying…fee title to any real estate…may not be accepted for recording by any county clerk or recording officer in this state unless the statement of consideration required by this section is included on the face of the instrument.

4.Prior to recording a document conveying fee title to a city, a "certificate" from the assessor is necessary. 

307.090 Property of the state, counties and other municipal corporations…in this state, is exempt from taxation. 

311.411 Certificate of taxes paid required to record instrument conveying real property to public entity…(2) Notwithstanding ORS 205.130, a county clerk may not record…an instrument conveying…fee title to real property to an entity whose property is exempt from taxation under ORS 307.040 or 307.090 unless the instrument is accompanied by a certificate issued by the assessor of the county in which the real property is located attesting that all charges against the real property as of the date of the recording have been paid.

5.Plats do not contain a tax return statement. 

205.234 Requirements for first page of instruments to be recorded…(e) For instruments that convey or contract to convey fee title to real estate, the tax statement information required by ORS 93.260.   

93.260 Tax statement information required in conveyancing instrument. (1) All instruments prepared for the purpose of conveying…fee title to any real estate shall contain on the face of such instruments a statement in substantially the following form: Until a change is requested, all tax statements shall be sent to the following address:

6.Consistency with other large developing and neighboring counties

Plats granting easements along all front/rear/back/side lot lines will not be approved (see attached plat example). This change has already been implemented.  I believe we have remedied this situation with whom I believe is the only City in Washington County that is continuing with this practice and has it in their planning codes and we have agreed that future plats will not grant these;however, there may be a city that does limited platting that I am unaware of that this may pertain to. ORS 92.044 Adoption of standards and procedures governing approval of plats and plans (7) Unless specifically requested by a public or private utility provider, the governing body of a city or county may not require a utility easement except for a utility easement abutting a street. If a city wants to require this after a plat records it will be up to them to shepherd the document. Even if a City is a utility provider, having language in a development code that requires these easements to be granted appears to be in direct conflict with the purposes and intent of the statute.

Please work closely with the engineers and developers preparing or working on subdivisions to ensure utilities are not set in conflict with monument locations.If land is to be surveyed and platted in accordance with chapter 92 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, it could be that asking to set an offset monument because of a new manhole or phone riser is in conflict with said chapter or that the subdivision is not in accordance with chapter 92. ORS 92.044 Adoption of standards and procedures governing approval of plats and plans (7)… Utility infrastructure may not be placed within one foot of a survey monument location noted on a subdivision or partition plat. The attached WC Utility Statement is on all development plans approved by Washington County. Not only does it cite the ORS, it specifically states that changes will not be allowed to be in conflict with the statute. Ultimately the developer or engineer will be responsible for moving conflicting utilities. This is not county code, so Washington county doesn't have the ability to permit outside the confines of or waive state statutes.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation regarding these matters. Please contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding this office. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the future.


Scott Young, PLS|Survey Supervisor |County Surveyor

Washington County Department of Land Use &Transportation

Engineering &Construction Services | Survey Section

1400 SW Walnut St., MS 17 Hillsboro, OR 97123