What is the process to vacant an easement?

There are two types of vacations – a summary vacation or a nonsummary vacation. A summary vacation is less expensive and somewhat less complicated. The California Streets and Highways Code list very specific criteria for a vacation to qualify as a summary. If the vacation affects a street or highway, the following circumstances would qualify for a summary vacation:

  1. The street or highway has been superseded by relocation, and the vacation would not terminate all access to another person’s property, or terminate a public service easement; OR
  2. For a period of five (5) consecutive years, the street or highway has been impassable for vehicular travel, and no public money was expended for maintenance purposes during the same period; OR
  3. The street or highway is excess right of way and is not required for street or highway purposes; OR
  4. The portion of a street or highway to be vacated lies within property under one (1) ownership and does not continue through such ownership, or end touching property of another.

A nonsummary vacation requires a hearing before the Kern County Board of Supervisors for approval. Affected property owners and agencies are notified of the proposed vacation hearing date.

If the vacation would affect a public service easement, the following circumstances would qualify for summary vacation:

  1. The easement has not been used for its dedicated purpose for five (5) consecutive years immediately preceding the proposed vacation; OR
  2. The date of dedication or acquisition is less than five (5) years, but more than one (1) year, immediately preceding the proposed vacation, and the easement was not used continuously since that date; OR
  3. The easement has been superseded by relocation, and there are no public facilities located within the easement.

If the proposed vacation does not meet any of the listed criteria, it must be considered as a nonsummary vacation and will be heard before the County Board of Supervisors for approval or denial.