NORTH OLYMPIC
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LAND SURVEYORS' ASSOCIATION OF WASHINGTON

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Message from DNR on Affidavits of Correction

 

On August 12, 2015, the DNR Survey Advisory Board (SAB) met and the following item was discussed with the noted outcome:

 

  Affidavit of Minor Correction (AMC): In 1992 the Land Surveyor’s Association of Washington (LSAW) formed a committee to create a standard AMC form which was adopted by the LSAW in May of 1993. Since then, there has been some confusion and misuse of the AMC as to its applicability for recorded survey maps.  The SAB recommended to the DNR that, to be in compliance with WAC 332-130-050, only a new survey map be accepted for recording to correct an error on a survey map. The DNR has accepted the SAB’s recommendation and, effective immediately, will no longer consider an AMC as meeting the requirements of WAC 332-130-050(3).   

 

If you have any questions, please send an email to sab@dnr.wa.gov or plso@dnr.wa.gov

 

LSAW--What is Our Mission?


 

According to our website the “LSAW is committed to promoting the profession and science of surveying for the benefit of its members and the public”.

 

Most would agree that this includes providing scholarship funds for individuals wishing tojoin our profession. The LSAW Foundation is such a vehicle. Three Chapters have set up scholarships through the Foundation. North Olympic – James V. Jacobs Memorial, Northwest – NW Chapter LSAW, and Snohomish - Mike Mickiewicz Memorial.

 

Back at the turn of the century when Peninsula College had a full-fledged Survey-Geomatics program in Port Angeles, it hit me. Why don’t the local surveying firms support the very people we will hire upon graduation? So I made a few calls and suddenly I had $9000 in checks. I was shocked! Then reality set in. Now what do I do with this? How is it to be dispersed? Definitely the cart before the horse on this one. Well at our next Chapter meeting we put our sizable craniums together and we made selections and awards through the Peninsula College Foundation.

 

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, Rich Angelo (past recipient), Bill O’Conner, Jon Purnell (past instructor), James Wengler and I met to award $2000 from our Chapter’s coffers. We devoted about 20% of our Chapter funds. Then it hit me, again. At my age things hit me a lot. What if every Chapter devoted similar amounts? Can you imagine if the larger Chapters devoted 10% from their sizable war chests? We could actually pay an entire year’s tuition for multiple students and possibly have money left over for the next year! I mean WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH ALL THAT MONEY IN THE BANK ANYWAY! With your help, we can make 2016 a record year!

 

If you agree, I urge you to attend your next Chapter meeting. Make a motion and bring it up for a vote. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the support. Writing the check is the easy part. Please send your gift specifying your favorite scholarship to:

 

LSAW Foundation

c/o Carla Merrit, Treasurer

 

Thank you,

Rob Johnston

Past President North Olympic Chapter

North Olympic Chapter Makes Scholarship Awards

North Olympic Chapter of LSAW has awarded $1000 scholarships to two surveying students, one of whom attends Bellingham Technical College, the other the Oregon Institute of Technology.  The two recipients were selected from a pool of five eligible candidates.

The selection committee met on August 6, 2015, and considered three questions as it reviewed a total of 10 applications: 
 
  1. Who among the applicants was eligible for further consideration?
  2. How did the committee members rank the eligible applicants?
  3. How should this year's available funds, totaling $2000, be distributed?
 
The committee found that two of the applicants were outstanding candidates and made the awards as described. My thanks go to the members of the committee for their time and thoughtful consideration of the applications.

RE: Standing Alone Post

Thanks to those who commented on the previous post!   
     Statutory obligations aside, I think it is important to provide sufficient documentation for the surveyors who might follow. What’s sufficient?  Well, that’s the practitioner’s call.  Still, I want surveyors to buy into my solutions, not second-guess them.  The best way to do that is to disclose what was done and why, on the survey.  If that means writing a “Surveyor’s Narrative,” so be it.  If not, fine—so long as the necessary information appears, is complete and is conveyed in a way that is not subject to interpretation.  And, if this benefits the public at large, well then that’s just dandy.
   
I believe the most important part is the bit about a survey standing on its own, without needing oral testimony for clarification.  For centuries, this has been an important feature of land documents.  It anticipates (among other things) the fact that none of us will live forever, and hence won’t always be around to testify—or answer the phone.  Yet our surveys live on in the record, and I think that’s kind of cool. 

Standing Alone

     In his classic text, “Writing Legal Descriptions,” Gurdon H. Wattles says that a written land description must stand on its own in order to satisfy the requirement for sufficiency1.  This means that in order to be sufficient from a locative standpoint, a land description must be capable of being located on the ground without having to resort to oral testimony for clarification.  Should not this standard apply to recorded surveys as well?

     Currently in Washington State, recorded surveys must include, among other things, “Any other data necessary for the intelligent interpretation of the various items and locations of the points, lines and areas shown2.”  This means that a survey needs to include information that is sufficient to facilitate accurate location by a competent authority, and also include information that is sufficient to communicate how and why the boundaries came to be located as shown, without having to resort to oral testimony for clarification. In other words, boundary surveys should Stand Alone. 
    
Providing citations to pertinent documents of record on the face of the map can help a survey stand on its own, but this device alone will not always be sufficient, because referenced documents do not usually include the surveyor’s analysis that led to the boundary locations shown on the survey.  Hence the need for explanatory text (Surveyor’s Narrative?)  Ask this: If your survey cannot stand on its own, how well will it stand in Court?  --jpurnell

________________

[1] Wattles, Gurdon H. Writing Legal Descriptions in Conjunction with Survey Boundary Control, 1979, pp 11.9
[2] Title 58.09.060 RCW, Survey Recording Act 

 

What will be your legacy?

   When the research packet arrived, I was glad to see that I'd be retracing the work of U.S. Deputy Surveyor Lewis D. W. Shelton. Experience had shown that Shelton's field notes would allow us to follow precisely in his footsteps in the field; his work was so good, at times it seemed as though he was a member of my crew. But not all GLO surveyors were as conscientious as Shelton, and I came to dread having to retrace the work of some. What makes Shelton all the more remarkable is how, despite all the difficulties presented by rough terrain, remote and inaccessible work sites, inclement weather, a largely unskilled labor force, meager renumeration, and the limitations of nineteenth century technology, he was nevertheless able to produce a quality product.
     Things are not so different when the work of modern surveyors is considered. How often have you been pleased to find that an adjoining survey was performed by a surveyor whose work has been clearly and fully documented, and further, can be relied upon? On the other hand, how often have you been disappointed to learn that the contrary was shown? Ask this: How do you want your colleagues and the public to think of the surveys you leave behind? Will they be glad and grateful or disappointed and dreadful to learn that you are the surveyor of record? You posses the ability to shape the outcome.
--jpurnell

Peer Review Service in the Works

North Olympic chapter is looking to provide a sounding board for local professionals to exchange ideas on how to make surveys on the Peninsula the best they can be. Emphasis will be on having surveys stand on their own, boundary determination and compliance with State laws.  The idea for peer review of surveys recieved favorable feedback at the January 15th chapter meeting. Please share your thoughts and ideas for this proposal.  -- Rob Johnston and Jon Purnell

Comment here Preamble WAC 196-29-105

WAC 196-29-105 Practice of land surveying. Except for the authority granted to the offices of county engineers in chapters 36.75, 36.77, 36.80, 36.81, and 36.86 RCW, and where that authority may be otherwise exempted in state law, the practice of land surveying must be performed by or under the direct supervision of a professional land surveyor as provided in chapter 18.43 RCW. 

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (10)

(10) Configuration and establishment of land surveyed ground control which defines vertical and/or horizontal datums which control remote sensing measurement technologies used to define property boundaries or topography. 

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (9)

(9) Creation of land survey maps and/or databases to represent locations for boundaries, the location of objects, or topography. 



Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (8)

(8) Creation of land descriptions which are used to define property boundaries. 

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (7)

(7) Rendering of expert testimony or for hire services as to the location of a property line, easement line or any property corner position; 

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (6)

(6) In the absence of existing survey monuments, the determination, setting, or resetting of control points uniquely dependent on a property boundary or easement line.

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (5)

(5) Use of land surveying principles to determine, set, or reset land survey monuments or reference points which define a property boundary;

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (4)

(4) The collection and analysis of vertical and horizontal field measurements to illustrate potential conflict of title or boundary lines as evidenced by land improvements or other indications of land use.

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (3)

(3) The determination and certification of the positional accuracy of land surveying data.

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (2)

(2) The analysis and adjustments of measured, calculated, certified, or recorded land survey data or property boundaries

Comment here WAC 196-29-105 (1)

(1) Evaluation and interpretation of visible, scientific, written evidence, or oral testimony used to make certified determinations of property boundaries;

Proposed New Language WAC 196-29-105

WAC 196-29-105

Practice of land surveying.

Except for the authority granted to the offices of county engineers in chapters 36.75, 36.77, 36.80, 36.81, and 36.86 RCW, and where that authority may be otherwise exempted in state law, the practice of land surveying must be performed by or under the direct supervision of a professional land surveyor as provided in chapter 18.43 RCW.

The practice of land surveying, as defined in RCW 18.43.020(9) includes:
(1) Evaluation and interpretation of visible, scientific, written evidence, or oral testimony used  to make certified determinations of property boundaries;
(2) The analysis and adjustments of measured, calculated, certified, or recorded land survey data or property boundaries;
(3) The determination and certification of the positional accuracy of land surveying data.
(4) The collection and analysis of vertical and horizontal field measurements to illustrate potential conflict of title or boundary lines as evidenced by land improvements or other indications of land use.
(5) Use of land surveying principles to determine, set, or reset land survey monuments or reference points which define a property boundary;
(6) In the absence of existing survey monuments, the determination, setting, or resetting of control points uniquely dependent on a property boundary or easement line.
(7) Rendering of expert testimony or for hire services as to the location of a property line, easement line or any  property corner position;
(8) Creation of land descriptions which are used to define property boundaries.
(9) Creation of land survey maps and/or databases to represent locations for boundaries, the location of objects, or topography.
(10) Configuration and establishment of land surveyed ground control which defines vertical and/or horizontal datums which control remote sensing measurement technologies used to define property boundaries or topography.


 

 

Proposed New Language from BOR for Surveying Definition

 

On August 7th the Board voted to withdraw the current rule filings under WSR 14-06-104 (WAC 196-29-105). Revisions to language have been developed. The revisions are posted above and are being distributed via the Board ListServ, Board website and the mailing list of participants who commented on the previous rule proposals.  At present, these are only
draft proposals.  Further discussions are expected but no decision has been made on whether these steps will result in a new rule making process. All individuals wishing to comment on these revisions are encouraged to do so. 

How to stay informed: Sign up for the Board of Registration Listserv at http://listserv.wa.gov

SAB Solicits comment on Survey Narrative Statements


Here is your chance to have an impact on our profession.  If you want your voice heard, you should respond to the following request for comment from the DNR Survey Advisory Board.  No one will consider your opinion if you choose to keep silent.  --jbp 


The Survey Advisory Board is seeking stakeholder input on possible rule making to define a Survey Narrative. Please see the draft language below and respond with any comments to sab@dnr.wa.gov by August 1, 2014.


{DRAFT Washington State Narrative DRAFT}

Surveyor's Narrative

The Record of Survey as required by RCW 58.09.040(1) shall have a written narrative on the face of the map. The narrative must explain:
  

  • the purpose of the survey and how the boundary lines or other lines were established or reestablished and the reasoning behind the decisions and

  • must state which deed records, deed elements, survey records, found survey monuments, plat records, road records or other pertinent data were controlling when establishing or reestablishing the lines and 

  • for surveys that contain a vertical component the narrative shall show the benchmarks used, the vertical datum referenced and the methodology used to achieve the elevations. 


Will Big Gov't Prevail? Link to story on Colorado Eminent Domain case

A Colorado couple is enduring a test of private property rights as they battle the local government, which is trying to seize their land because it wants the open space. 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/08/colorado-couple-fights-unusual-eminent-domain-bid-to-seize-land/

Posting Comments and Articles on NOLY Blog


Your responses to the Surveyor's Narrative question posed on the NOLY Blog this month have been thoughtful and well reasoned, as have your comments. I think it is safe to say that this first substantive use of the NOLY Blog has been a huge success, and it is my hope that we can continue to use this forum to hash out issues of interest to all of us.

Still, this endeavor has exposed some limitations in the website--especially with regard to the posting of comments.  As a rule of thumb, if your comment is longer than a single paragraph, send the text to webmaster@lsaw-noly.org, and I will post it as a separate blog post--as was done with Jim Wengler's and Brad Lymangrover's contributions to the discussion.

Also--I want to encourage you to submit other articles, questions, comments or observations you have that are connected with the profession for posting on the NOLY Blog. We can only benefit from learning each other's insights and perspectives.

For now, I have removed the "straw poll" tool as only a single polling tool can be attached per page.  Meanwhile, I'll look into acquiring one that will allow attachment to each post.  For the record, the vote was 14 to 0 in favor of the Surveyor Narrative concept in general--but this does not imply universal support for mandatory statements in all cases. 

Thanks in advance for your continued participation!

jpurnell

Should Survey Narratives be Mandatory?

By Brad Lymangrover

(Editor's Note: Brad's comments are being posted as a separate NOLY Blog post rather than as commentary on related previous posts --jbp)

 

This has been a point of discussion with the DNR at least since I was the Olympic Region Surveyor.  During my tenure there it was required on all DNR Surveys.  This was, in my opinion, a valuable addition to these documents as it informed the user of said survey what thought processes were being employed by the responsible land surveyor.  I found that it also required an additional review and re-evaluation of the elements of the survey before recording.

 

Having worn the hat of a “Private Surveyor” and the hat of a “DNR Surveyor”, I would like to point out that not all private surveys are as involved and complicated as some cadastral surveys.  Many surveys of lots within a subdivision are pretty cut and dried and if the surveyor complies with all existing regulations, the addition of a narrative would be redundant and unnecessary.  I caution this profession to not  force all surveys into the same format and over-regulate ourselves. I would also implore the DNR decision makers to put on their “private surveyor hat” while evaluating this issue.

 

Of course,  there are many situations where a survey performed within the private sector would benefit enormously from a narrative and I have used them often in the past.  This can be used to clarify such things as professional judgment decisions, plat breakdown procedures, found non-conforming monuments or to explain a conflict with a previous survey.  Whatever the reason, one of the benefits to the surveyor of the use of a narrative is to inform the surveyors following of the thought processes and procedures that were used to arrive at any significant conclusions.  In my opinion, if the reasoning or methods used are valid and appropriate, most subsequent surveyors will follow in the footsteps rather than create unnecessary conflicts for adjoining land owners.

 

In summation, I think it is appropriate for the DNR and the profession as a whole to encourage the use of narratives when necessary or even useful.  This can be done through educational seminars, publications or blogs.  However, I do not believe that requiring narratives on all surveys is a good idea as it just adds one more layer of bureaucracy.  The use should be up to the professional judgment of the responsible surveyor.

 

Intelligent Interpretation

by James Wengler, PLS, CfedS

(Editors note: James' comments are posted here as a NOLY Blog article rather than as a response to the previous blog post--jbp)

Here is a brief summary of how the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has gained the authority to set up survey standards and why I agree with Mr. Purnell about the need in some cases for survey narratives:

Chapter 58.09.010 RCW Purpose-title states:

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a method for preserving evidence of land surveys by establishing standards and procedures for monumenting and for
recording a public record of the surveys. Its provisions shall be deemed supplementary to existing laws relating to surveys, subdivisions, platting, and boundaries.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Survey Recording Act".

Establishing these standards has been designated to the Department of Natural Resources by these following authorities:

Chapter RCW 58.24.020 RCW Official agency designated —
Advisory board in part states: The department of natural resources is designated as the official agency for surveys and maps.

Chapter RCW 58.24.040 Official agency designated — Powers— Standards, maps, records, report, temporary removal of boundary marks or monuments also states in part:

The agency designated by RCW 58.24.020 is further authorized to:

(1) Set up standards of accuracy and methods of procedure;

Under this Authority the DNR has prepared minimum survey map standards under Chapter WAC 332-130-050 WAC Survey map requirements, which states in part:

The following requirements apply to land boundary survey maps and plans, records of surveys, plats, short plats, boundary line adjustments, and binding site plans required by law to be filed or recorded with the county.

(1) All such documents filed or recorded shall conform to the following:

(f) For the intelligent interpretation of the various items shown, including the location of points, lines and areas, they shall:

(i) Reference record survey documents that identify different corner positions;

(ii) Show deed calls that are at variance with the measured distances and directions of the surveyed parcel;

(iii) Identify all corners used to control the survey whether they were calculated from a previous survey of record or found, established, or reestablished;

(iv) Give the physical description of any monuments shown, found, established or reestablished, including type, size, and date visited;

(v) Show the record land description of the parcel or boundary surveyed or a reference to an instrument of record;

(vi) Identify any ambiguities, hiatuses, and/or overlapping boundaries;

(vii) Give the location and identification of any visible physical appurtenances such as fences or structures which may indicate encroachment, lines of possession, or
conflict of title.

In my opinion, I believe this section to be one of the most important sections of our standards. If everyone followed these standards, in most cases there should be no additional information another professional would need to know to understand how the survey was performed. In other words it would "stand alone".

I do not believe that the intelligent interpretation of the various items shown on the survey can always be performed without some form of a survey narrative. This
may be in the form of notes explaining your interpretation of one of the deeds or an explanation on the use of Junior or Senior rights used on the survey.

Sometimes the intelligent interpretation of some of the items can not be graphically shown on a survey map or understood by a layperson. This is where a survey narrative would be desirable if not already required under this WAC.

As Jon so eloquently stated: "I think it behooves us to make surveys as easy to understand as possible, and surveyor’s narrative statements could be used to do this."

--JW

What About Surveyor's Narrative Statements?


DNR is considering the benefits and repercussions of requiring a Surveyor’s Narrative statement on survey documents filed under RCW 58.09.   Perhaps coincidentally, the Board of Registration (BOR) touched upon this subject during a presentation at the 2014 LSAW annual conference.  George Twiss, PLS and Executive Director for the BOR, reviewed what the BOR considers some essential attributes of a complete Record of Survey.   One of the characteristics mentioned was that an ROS should “stand on its own,”  which is to say, a survey document should clearly communicate, among other things,  the purpose of the survey and decisions made that resulted in the boundary locations shown, without a need to resort to oral testimony to interpret the survey.   Evidently, the BOR is seeing some deficiencies in these areas, hence the idea of requiring a surveyor’s narrative statement.


I happen to agree with the “stand alone” concept and with the narrative statement idea as well, but these ideas do not seem to enjoy universal support.   During discussion, it was pointed out that a narrative statement should not be necessary, provided that a survey is properly executed and properly documented according to existing requirements.   An opinion was also expressed that a narrative statement could become a liability in that such a statement could be used by the opposition to attack the reasoning behind a decision.  


I do not find these arguments very convincing.  While it is true that a properly executed survey may successfully “stand alone” and may be capable of being understood by other practitioners, the often bewildering array of information that appears on a modern survey may not be clearly understandable by laypeople.  Like it or not, laypeople can and do access and consult surveys for information about their boundaries, which could lead to erroneous conclusions on their part if their understanding is unclear.  I think it behooves us to make surveys as easy to understand as possible, and surveyor’s narrative statements could be used to do this.   


It also seems to me that the more clearly the reasoning behind a boundary location is presented, the more likely it will be that the decision will be supported by other practitioners.  The process of developing a narrative statement can, in and of itself, cause the author to think deeply about the logic behind a decision.  This can expose strengths and weaknesses in an argument, perhaps resulting in a more refined decision, or perhaps enhancing the ability of the practitioner to defend that decision.   And, if such reasoning is preserved on the face of the document, the easier it will be to, “get one’s head” back into the facts and circumstances that led to the decision, especially after the passage of time.


We do have a responsibility to fully document our surveys.  Doing so is, I believe is in the best interest of the practitioner who files, and other practitioners who rely upon or build upon our work—but I think we ought to consider that these records are filed for public use, and it is to our advantage to make our surveys more clear to them.


jpurnell