In Newmyer v. Parklands Ranch, LLC (— Cal.Rptr. 3d —, 2006 WL 728067, Cal.App. 2 Dist., Mar. 23, 2006), a California Court of Appeal considered whether a property owner could stop the owner of an adjoining property from establishing an easement through his property, when the power to create the easement was granted in the sale of the same property, among different buyers and sellers, decades earlier.
The Court determined that the terms of the deed from the earlier sale were valid, and still applied to the current owners of the properties. Therefore, the property owner could not prevent his neighbor from establishing an easement through his property.
In 1965, Beatriz Oakley owned Lot 29 and Lot 903, two undeveloped parcels in the Santa Monica Mountains. Lot 29 was adjacent to Kaman Dune Road, but Lot 903 was on the opposite side of Lot 29, with no access to the road. Oakley sold Lot 903 to Palace Court, Inc., which also owned another adjoining parcel, Lot 17, also without road access. The deed of the sale included an easement across Oakley’s Lot 29, to provide road access to Lot 903. It also gave the owner of Lot 903 the right to create additional easements through Lot 29 “for like purposes.” To get road access to Lot 17, Palace Court then established another easement through Lot 903 and Lot 29, as permitted by the deed.
Arthur Newmyer (“Newmyer”) became the owner of Lot 29 in 1999. Parklands Ranch LLC (“Parklands Ranch”) bought Lot 17 in 2002, and the deed from that sale included the easement through Newmyer’s property.
In 2003, Newmyer sued for a finding that the easement through his property had been abandoned, and was not lawfully created in any event, because Defendant’s Lot 17 was not specifically identified in the 1965 deed as a property entitled to an easement through Plaintiff’s Lot 29. Parklands Ranch then filed a “late notice of intent to preserve easement.”
The trial court dismissed the case, ruling that the earlier deed created a valid easement and Parklands Ranch’s filing established that it was not abandoned. Newmyer appealed.
The Court found that Newmyer’s argument–that the 1965 deed mentioned only that Lot 903 had an easement through his property, and did not mention Lot 17–was irrelevant. The language of the deed, “unambiguously conveyed the separate and distinct ‘further right … to grant easements for like purposes to others to be appurtenant to other lands,'” the court said. That plain language established the 1965 seller’s intent that “other lands” benefit from easement access over Newmyer’s property. Additionally, because the easement was for access to the road, it complied with the deed’s language that new easements be for “like purposes” to the original easement.
The Court also ruled that Parkland Ranch’s late notice of intent to preserve easement was sufficient to establish that the easement had not been abandoned, under the terms of Civil Code Section 887.060, which states that an easement is not abandoned if a notice to preserve it is filed within 20 years of an action to establish it abandoned.
The easement was therefore deemed valid, and the trial court decision was upheld.
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