Private Road Maintenance

Private Roads

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. 
  3. 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 to recover that owner's share of the cost, or for specific performance or contribution, may be brought by the other owners, either jointly or severally.  The action may be brought before, during, or after performance of the maintenance work, as follows: 

 (1) The action may be brought in small claims court if the amount claimed to be due as the owner's portion of the cost  does                   not exceed the jurisdictional limit of the small claims court.  A small claims judgement shall not affect apportionment of   any future costs that are not requested in the small claims action. 

 (2) Except as provided in paragraph (1), the action shall be filed in superior court and, notwithstanding Section 1141.13 of
 the Code of Civil Procedure, the action shall be subject to judicial arbitration pursuant to Chapter 2.5 of Title 3 of Part 3  (commencing with Section 1141.10) of the Code of Civil Procedure.  A superior court judgement shall not affect  apportionment of any future costs that are not requested n the action, unless otherwise provided in the judgement.

 (3) In the absence of an agreement, the cost shall be shared proportionately to the use made of the easement by each
 (4) Nothing in this section precludes the use of any available alternative dispute resolution program to resolve actions  regarding the maintenance of easements in the small claims court or the superior court. 
 d. 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.
 (4) This section section does 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 with the exception of vegetation management. Road maintenance, as defined in this section referes to the physical maintenance of a road to included asphalt, pot holes, signage, drainage (including, but not limited to: driveway culverts and culverts under a private road apron where the private driveway or road adjoins a county maintained road), gravel,  shoulders, striping, etc. If, as per paragraph (c) 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.