The subdivision of land is defined as the division of any improved or unimproved land for the purpose of sale, lease or financing.  The physical subdivision of land into two or more lots requires approval through the discretionary development review process.

The creation of four or fewer lots is called a minor subdivision whereas the creation of five or more lots is a called a major subdivision. Both types requires filing of a tentative map application which may or may not include the proposed building designs. The tentative map, prepared by the applicant’s Civil Engineer, defines the lot layout for the subdivision and shows the proposed site improvements. The Tentative Map is review for consistency with the City’s General Plan and zoning ordinance, engineering standards, and decided by the highest approving body based on the type(s) of approvals being requested.

Vesting Tentative Maps

tentative map is generally intended to protect the ability of the developer to complete the project once all land use and discretionary approvals have been obtained. 

For example, after the developer has received a general plan amendment, rezoning, tentative and final map and has obtained all other various discretionary land use permits in order to develop over a period of time, the developer would initially propose to guarantee its rights to complete the project as originally approved.  Land use laws affecting the project might change while the project is underway either because of switch in local government legislative policy or by revisions made by the people through the initiative process. In such cases, a developer many times cannot rely on common law vested rights and, therefore, must secure the protection of a development agreement to ensure vested rights to develop. More information on Vesting Maps is available in the Municipal Code.


Condominiums are a form of property ownership. Condominiums create ownership title of each unit and the lot on which the condominiums are located is shared as "common area". Commercial condominiums are processed as a one-lot, minor subdivision.  Residential condominium processing is based on the number of condominiums being created - four or fewer is a minor subdivision and five or more is processed as a major subdivision.

Final Maps & Improvement Plans

Upon obtaining all discretionary approvals of a tentative map, a Final (or Parcel) Map is filed. It is the official, legal document that is recorded with the County that establishes the property lines and easements within the subdivision. The Engineering Division will review and process the map and improvement plans for technical correctness and compliance with the Subdivision Map Act.  Improvement Plans are the construction-level plans (also known as "working drawings") that detail the specific features and improvements shown on the Tentative Map.

Subdivision Design Standards and Requirements

All subdivisions must comply with the allowable density range specified in the General PlanZoning lot sizes & dimensions, standards related to street and traffic movementdrainage, and street light guidelines. Other requirements may include stormwater treatment systems for projects that create or replace 10,000 square feet of impervious surface. All applicants should carefully review Provision C.3 of the County's Clean Water Program to reduce pollution.

Lot Line Adjustment, Lot Mergers and Certificates of  Compliance

They are ministerial applications processed by the Engineering Division. The relocation of property lines or merging of lots must comply with zoning requirements such as minimum lot depth, width, and area. Certificates of Compliance are issued for lot line adjustments, mergers, and validating lots existing lots or lots which were altered by eminent domain proceedings. More detailed information is contained in the Subdivision Ordinance.