Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/18/1994 08:00 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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  CSSB 355 - ADJUSTMENTS FOR DEFECTIVE SURVEY                                  
                                                                               
  Number 690                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY opened CSSB 355, sponsored by Senate                          
  Community & Regional Affairs, for discussion.                                
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-49, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  ANNE RINGSTAD, STAFF, SENATOR STEVE RIEGER, addressed CSSB
  355.  She stated CSSB 355 provides that a person or a local                  
  governing body, upon the resolution of a local governing                     
  body can request a resurvey and replat of a manifestly                       
  defective survey of subdivision lines, and subsequent                        
  changes in individual lots through Superior Court action.                    
  CSSB 355 provides a remedy for grossly incorrect subdivision                 
  surveys.                                                                     
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD indicated the municipality of Anchorage                         
  requested CSSB 355 to correct two manifestly defective                       
  surveys in the Anchorage area, although it applies to                        
  surveys statewide.  She stated CSSB 355 is the only                          
  practical solution to offer assistance to property owners in                 
  correcting this defect and establish their ownership status.                 
  The municipality of Anchorage has recently changed their                     
  municipal ordinances to include a special assessment                         
  district for resurvey and replatting of manifestly                           
  inaccurate surveys of record.  They are also in the process                  
  of petitioning the property owners of record of two                          
  particular subdivisions.  She stated by this legislation                     
  they must also pass a resolution supporting this action                      
  before any action can be taken.  The cost of the resurvey                    
  will be allocated by the court and could be on a per lot, or                 
  mil basis.                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD mentioned the municipality of Anchorage,                        
  William Mendenhall, Patrick Kalen, and various land title                    
  companies support CSSB 355.                                                  
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD commented she understood, from their                            
  constituents in the subdivisions, that about 20 years ago                    
  there was a very notorious surveyor, who has since left the                  
  state.  He surveyed the outside subdivision lines of the                     
  properties, thereby manifestly incorrect.  Therefore, there                  
  are about 300 lots in those two subdivisions that cannot                     
  claim clear title until the matter is resolved.  She noted,                  
  in some cases, the property lines are 20 feet off.                           
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY expressed there is nothing new about that                     
  occurrence because it happens everyday.  He stated there is                  
  nothing in CSSB 355 that cannot be accomplished under                        
  existing law.  Therefore, why incorporate defective surveys                  
  into a statute that "equates to acts of God."  He commented                  
  there have been defective surveys in the matters of equity                   
  for going on 4,000 years.  The court system deals with this                  
  routinely.  He believed there was nothing in CSSB 355 to                     
  correct why defective surveys occur.  He noted the packet                    
  did not include information from the Alaska Professional                     
  Surveyors Association (APSA) stating their support.  He                      
  failed to see the purpose of CSSB 355.                                       
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD replied the municipality of Anchorage has been                  
  working for a long time to remedy this situation.                            
                                                                               
  Number 088                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY interjected the example of Nome, whereby it                   
  replatted the entire townsite without the law proposed in                    
  CSSB 355.  The problem arises when there are arguments                       
  between the affected property owners.  If adjoining owners                   
  agree, the problem can be worked out technically.  However,                  
  if they disagree, the courts intervene, which they do                        
  routinely.                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD explained they had argued that point with legal                 
  services and the municipality of Anchorage, however, they                    
  still felt CSSB 355 was necessary.  There are apparent                       
  problems throughout the two subdivisions.  In order for them                 
  to go to court, each party would have to provide a suit,                     
  which would enjoin all of the owners of record to go into                    
  one suit to remedy the problem.                                              
                                                                               
  (REPRESENTATIVES OLBERG and ULMER left the meeting at 10:00                  
  a.m.)                                                                        
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY stated there are still surveyors in Alaska                    
  who do poor work.  Therefore, he could not see how CSSB 355                  
  would be to anyone's benefit.  He interpreted CSSB 355 as                    
  excusing surveyors for malpractice.                                          
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD interjected, in this case, the surveyor is no                   
  where to be found and may not even be alive anymore.  She                    
  noted there are remedies if the survey was done within the                   
  past two years; however, it has been more than two years in                  
  this case.                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY responded it would not matter if the survey                   
  was done 100 years ago.  The courts deal with this problem                   
  even if they do not like to.  Lacking better support for                     
  CSSB 355, he said he could not let it pass from committee.                   
  He commented CSSB 355 might cause people to abrogate their                   
  existing rights.                                                             
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD mentioned Patrick Kalen had said the APSA would                 
  support CSSB 355.                                                            
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY agreed if the APSA knew about CSSB 355 they                   
  would have provided a letter.  He suggested the National                     
  Society of Professional Engineers.  He said he felt CSSB 355                 
  was a very poor piece of legislation, however, he could                      
  stand to be corrected.  CSSB 355 states what the courts                      
  already have the power to do.  His first suspicion was that                  
  someone was trying to coerce someone else into a binding                     
  arbitration situation.                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 208                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD expressed she would get various testimony,                      
  including from the municipality, and bring it back to the                    
  committee.                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY commented some of the best experts on land                    
  law are some professional surveyors.  They might be better                   
  than some attorneys in the area.  He mentioned Robert Hicks                  
  in Anchorage, who did the legal work for the city of Nome.                   
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD added she would seek testimony from William                     
  Mendenhall who supported CSSB 355, as well.                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY said he would be interested in hearing from                   
  him.                                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 234                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT referred to the sponsor statement which                  
  reads the municipality has exhausted all their aspects of                    
  law to correct this problem, and finds that the legislation                  
  is the only practical solution.  He inquired who developed                   
  this position in the municipality.                                           
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD answered George Newsham, Assistant Municipal                    
  Attorney.                                                                    
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if there was a letter of support                   
  from him in the packets.                                                     
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD replied the letter from George Newsham in the                   
  packet only serves to correct a provision in CSSB 355.  He                   
  had contacted Senator Rieger's office for the drafting of                    
  the bill.                                                                    
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said he felt a letter from Mr. Newsham,                  
  articulating why he felt CSSB 355 was the only solution                      
  would be beneficial.  The letter may dispel concerns.                        
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY interjected the letter might complicate the                   
  concerns because CSSB 355 is not a subdivision specific                      
  piece of legislation.  CSSB 355 is generic Alaska law.                       
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD agreed.  She noted in the packet an approved                    
  ordinance change by the Anchorage assembly to specifically                   
  address resurvey and replatting of manifestly inaccurate                     
  surveys in record.                                                           
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY explained certain words, such as "manifestly                  
  inaccurate" or "reasonably diligent searches," would have to                 
  be defined.  The law would go back to the courts to be                       
  defined.                                                                     
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD agreed.  She expressed CSSB 355 was left open                   
  for the court to define it.  In some cases where the                         
  property line is only a couple of feet off, it is up to the                  
  court to decide whether it is manifestly defective or not.                   
  In most cases it is not; therefore, should not be changed.                   
  She emphasized only in the cases where the property lines                    
  are completely off does CSSB 355 apply.                                      
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY commented the nature of property ownership is                 
  external boundaries cannot be changed without going to                       
  court.  Internal boundaries can shift substantially.                         
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD agreed, and noted the internal boundaries are                   
  off because the external boundaries are off.  The community                  
  cannot even line up the roads because the external                           
  boundaries are off.  She explained that until this problem                   
  is resolved, they cannot realign a number of roads in that                   
  area.                                                                        
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY pointed out this has happened before.  If                     
  property owners are obstructions and uncooperative, then the                 
  process can be difficult.  He suspected the impetus for CSSB
  355 came from property owners who are surrounded by a lot of                 
  land that is not able to be developed because of defective                   
  lot lines.  Therefore, they have a private park and do not                   
  want to see it corrected.  Those who own the undeveloped                     
  property want to see it corrected.  He noted he could be                     
  wrong.                                                                       
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD pointed out none of the property owners there                   
  can be afforded clear title until the problem is solved.                     
  Therefore, anyone who wants to sell their property cannot                    
  because they have no clear title.                                            
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY clarified everyone is eager to solve the                      
  problem.                                                                     
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD affirmed CHAIRMAN VEZEY.                                        
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY further stated then there would be no                         
  problem.  The problem would be taken care of technically.                    
                                                                               
  MS. RINGSTAD suggested when MR. NEWSHAM presents his support                 
  to CSSB 355 that he also include the circumstances of the                    
  case.                                                                        
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY held CSSB 355 in committee.                                   
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 319                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY, having no more business before the                           
  committee, adjourned the meeting at 10:10 a.m.                               
                                                                               

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