The City conducts surveys to locate, describe, monument and map the boundaries of a parcel of land. Sometimes surveys include topography and the location of buildings on the parcel. This information is used before construction projects and also provides important historical reference.

The City of Oakland's Surveying Section in the Department of Transportation is a service and support group, providing assistance under the authority of the City Surveyor in three main areas: Construction, Data Collection and Professional Services.

Data Collection:

  • As-built Design Survey Data Collection: Utilizing horizontal and vertical City Control we provide mapping and data collection for OakDOT projects in the early design stage. These will typically become the base sheet drawings for the final design drawing set.
  • GIS: Provide City utility as-builts in on NAD 83, California State Plane Coordinate System Zone 3 and vertically NAVD88 for populating the GIS main frame.


  • Construction Layout and Support: Using OakDOT site and design plans, provide construction calculations and stakeout for the OakDOT inspectors and/or contractor.
  • Quality Assurance (QA) Support: Provide construction support in checking the work performed by the contractor and comparing with design values.
  • Compliance with State Laws on Monument preservation: Section §8771 of the Land Surveyors Act (Building and Professions Code), makes the City Engineer/ Surveyor responsible for the preservation of monuments in construction areas. Preservation of said monuments is accomplished by filing Corner Records, (CR’s). Most CR’s are passed on to the Contractor’s Land Surveyor. Those that are not are mapped by City forces and recorded with the County.
  • Emergency Operations: Some things can just not be planned. Surveys may be called on to address: landslides, fallen trees, project failures, dangerous situations, etc. on an “as needed and now “ basis.
  • Education is not really a main service but also a function of most in housework. Quite a few Engineers are unfamiliar with the laws and procedures which surveyors operate under. E.g.: California Subdivision Map Act, (CA Government Code Sections §66410 to §66499.58; Professional Land Surveyors Act, (CA Government Code Sections §6700 to §6799; and Professional Engineers Act, (CA Government Code Sections §6700 to §6799.

Professional Services: This work falls mainly on the desk of the City Surveyor and/or Licensed Party Chief and can include any of the following items, some more routinely than others. All work requires the use or authorization of a professional surveyor’s license from the state which the City Surveyor is required to possess.

  • Subdivision Map Review: State law (Subdivision Map Act) requires that all Tentative and final Subdivision Maps be reviewed and approved by the City Surveyor for technical accuracy. We provide coordination, review and approval on Tentative Parcel Maps, Tract Maps, Parcel Map Waivers and Certificates of Compliance for the Planning Department and OakDOT Engineering Services. In addition, we provide responses and interpretations relating to the Subdivision Map Act and other related boundary laws inquires.
  • The Office of the City Surveyor also performs professional support for multiple agencies and groups:
    • Engineering Services
      • Certificate of Compliance (CoC): A CoC establishes the legitimacy of a legal conveyance. Working with the City Right of Way Engineer, we have established a process and procedure to handle CoC applications in a fair, legal and consistent manner.
      • Street Vacation, Abandonment or Dedication: This is a legal process that abandons or creates an interest for the public through City Council. This process coordinates various department to establish policies that provide legal methodologies to abandon a public street AFTER the determination of who actually owns the fee title (it is not always the City).
    • Building Department: We provide guidance and boundary opinion as it relates to permit boundary questions and survey related questions and problems. We may also assist in preparing FEMA Certifications and verifications for Flood Certs and LOMR’s.
    • Right of Way Engineer: Maps of any kind are vetted for both technical issues as well as encroachment problems. Protocols resolve thorny problems such as under sidewalk vaults (constructed in the 1800’s for delivery), balconies and buildings that extend (at upper stories) substantially into the public right of way and so on. Likewise, we provide professional opinions on land boundary lines and interpretation of complex deeds and easements.
    • City Attorney: Primarily for locating property lines to ‘officially’ determine potential liability. Requests can also include production of historical records as we archive about 150 years of surveys and survey records.
    • Real Estate: Tasks may include writing legal descriptions, reviewing deeds for accuracy and providing our own subdivision mapping for land division or mergers.
    • Police Department: An offshoot of the City Attorney work, often OPD will need to know if property is public or private. We can generally determine this “in house” but it will sometimes require field measurement.
    • Fire Department: We receive the occasional request to determine the boundary line of private property for compliance with clearing activities.
    • City Arborist/Tree Department: Trees fall, gravity always wins, but when the tree falls into or imperils a house or blocks a street and the claim is brought that it is a City Tree, we must perform such field measurements as to determine the ownership of the (former) tree(s).
    • Records Availability: While currently limited because of staff shortages, we try to make all of our records available for public access. We have scanned 80% of our documents and make that information available upon specific request.
    • General Public: Perhaps our most important client. Oaklanderes will come in or call requesting various documents or advice on their property. While we can not perform private surveys as the City did 100 years ago, we can help with answers to questions or an outline of the process to follow to solve a problem.