Private Road Maintenance

Owners living on private roads are required to maintain their roads by State law, California Civil Code §845 (PDF):
  1. The owner of any easement in the nature of a private right-of-way, or of any land to which any such easement is attached, shall maintain it in repair.
  2. If the easement is owned by more than one person, or is attached to parcels of land under different ownership, the cost of maintaining it in repair shall be shared by each owner of the easement or the owners of the parcels of land, as the case may be, pursuant to the terms of any agreement entered into by the parties for that purpose. If any owner who is a party to the agreement refuses to perform or fails after demand in writing to pay the owner's proportion of the cost, an action for specific performance or contribution may be brought against that owner in a court of competent jurisdiction by the other owners, either jointly or severally.
  3. (c) In the absence of an agreement, the cost shall be shared proportionately to the use made of the easement by each owner.

    Any owner of the easement, or any owner of land to which the easement is attached, may apply to any court where the right-of-way is located and that has jurisdiction over the amount in controversy for the appointment of an impartial arbitrator to apportion the cost.

    The application may be made before, during, or after performance of the maintenance work. If the arbitration award is not accepted by all of the owners, the court may enter a judgment determining the proportionate liability of each owner. The judgment may be enforced as a money judgment by any party against any other party to the action.
  4. In the event that snow removal is not required under subdivision (a) or under any independent contractual or statutory duty, an agreement entered into pursuant to subdivision (b) to maintain the easement in repair shall be construed to include snow removal within the maintenance obligations of the agreement if all of the following exist:
    1. Snow removal is not expressly precluded by the terms of the agreement.
    2. Snow removal is necessary to provide access to the properties served by the easement.
    3. Snow removal is approved in advance by the property owners or their elected representatives in the same manner as provided by the agreement for repairs to the easement.
  5. The provisions of this section do not apply to rights-of-way held or used by railroad common carriers subject to the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission.
The County does not enforce private road maintenance. If, as per paragraph (b) a property owner is not participating in the maintenance of the road, you may wish as a first step to contact the Public Law Center, a legal assistance service of the Nevada County Superior Court, 201 Church Street, Ste 9, Nevada City, CA 95959 (1st floor of the courthouse). The phone number is 530-470-2594. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.