The Rules Regarding Splitting a Land Parcel in California

By the time our clients work with us, they’ve already subdivided the land and have started a project. Even though we don’t offer engineering or land surveyor services, the DRE process coincides directly with it. If you’re looking to subdivide your land, this blog aims to break down the process in California.

It’s a well-known fact that the real estate market is highly volatile, and the slightest change in the economy can significantly affect property values. Of course, different states have different property markets, and they all work differently. In California, properties are typically more expensive than in other states, so land developers develop solutions to manage them better. One example of this is splitting a parcel of land.

Splitting a parcel of land is a process by which a larger land is divided into smaller pieces. This allows developers to maximize their return on investment by creating multiple parcels that can be sold to different buyers. It also allows developers to take advantage of the specific zoning laws in their area, as they can create multiple zoned parcels for various purposes. Of course, doing this is challenging because different rules and regulations surround the practice.

How Is Splitting a Parcel of Land Done?

The process of splitting a parcel of land is relatively straightforward. The first step is to determine the boundaries of the new parcels. This is typically done by hiring a surveyor to map out the boundaries of the new parcels. The surveyor will also provide a legal description of the parcels and other relevant information. The surveyor will also provide the paperwork required to complete the process, such as a deed, title, and other legal documents.

Once the boundaries of the parcels have been established, the developer will need to obtain the necessary permits and approvals from the local government. This includes getting a zoning permit, environmental impact report, and other documents. Once these documents have been obtained, the developer can begin developing the land. This may include building roads, utilities, and other infrastructure.

Reviewing State Laws

California is one of the many states in the US with specific laws and regulations regarding splitting a parcel of land. These laws and regulations must be reviewed before beginning the process to ensure that the splitting of the parcel is done correctly. In addition,  you must also review any local ordinances as these may also affect the process.

Generally, these laws and regulations require a developer to obtain a permit before beginning any land development. Additionally, they may need a surveyor to map out the boundaries of the new parcels. Lastly, the local government may also require a public hearing to discuss the parcel’s development before any permits are issued.

The Division Process

In California, there are two primary ways to divide a parcel of land: a tract map and a parcel map. A tract map divides larger parcels, usually to create residential subdivisions, which include creating individual lots for each parcel. A parcel map divides smaller parcels, usually for commercial or industrial purposes, and does not involve creating individual lots.

On the other hand, a parcel map is used to create two or more new parcels from a single parcel. This process typically requires that a permit be issued, and a public hearing be held before the new parcels can be created. A surveyor may also be hired to map out the new parcels.

However, there are some instances where a parcel map may not be necessary. For example, if the parcel is divided into two or more parcels of equal size or parcels that are all less than five acres in size. In this case, a deed may be used to separate the parcels.

In either situation, all new parcels must comply with local zoning and building codes. The county recorder’s office must file a parcel map or deed to ensure the new parcels are recognized by the county and are legally binding.


Splitting a land parcel is relatively straightforward, but it must be done correctly to avoid legal complications. Regardless of the method used to separate the parcel of land, the county recorder’s office must be notified, and a parcel map or deed must be filed to divide the parcel legally. This way, the new parcels can be used, sold, or transferred without issues.

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