Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017

Revenue and Taxation Code

Property Taxation

Part 2. Assessment

Chapter 2. Legal Description of Lands for Assessment Purposes

Section 328

328. Other descriptions. Land may be described by metes and bounds, or other description sufficient to identify it, giving the locality and an estimate of the number of acres.

History.—Stats. 1974, Ch. 311, p. 603, in effect January 1, 1975, deleted ", not exceeding 640 acres in any parcel" after "acres".

Generally.—An assessment containing no description sufficient to identify the land is void. Palomares Land Co. v. Los Angeles County, 146 Cal. 530; Sinai v. Mull, 80 Cal.App.2d 277. But cf. Blinn Lumber Co. v. Los Angeles County, 216 Cal. 474, and San Francisco v. San Mateo County, 17 Cal.2d 814, to the effect that an assessee cannot complain of an insufficient description when he has not been misled thereby.

It is permissible in aid of a description in an assessment to show that it is in fact sufficient to identify the land. When, in the light of the knowledge which it must be presumed is possessed by the property owners of the community in which the property is situated, the description is sufficient to apprise the property owner of the exact property assessed to him, it is sufficient for all assessment purposes. The use of abbreviations is permissible if thereby the property may be easily known. Baird v. Monroe, 150 Cal. 560.

An owner is estopped from challenging the sufficiency of a description furnished by him. Smith v. Addiego, 54 Cal.App.2d 230.

The inclusion of the phrase "(Ex of Mining Right)" in a tax collector's deed does not make the description uncertain or ambiguous for it is clear that it means with the exception of the mining rights. Alspach v. Landrum, 82 Cal.App.2d 901.

Maps.—A description may be in accordance with an unrecorded map. Smith v. Addiego, 54 Cal.App.2d 230.

Water rights.—A separate assessment of riparian rights is void if there is no legal description of the riparian lands. Spring Valley Water Co. v. Alameda County, 24 Cal.App. 278.

Town lots.—An assessment which designates the lot and block number but fails to designate the city or town and is unaided by a reference to any map is void. Wright v. Fox, 150 Cal. 680. Similarly, an assessment is void which fails to describe the property as being within the corporate limits of a city. Tasker v. Nieto, 108 Cal.App. 135, 149.

An arbitrary number given to a certain lot for the convenience of the assessor and appearing in the description on the assessment roll does not vitiate the assessment. Jacoby v. Wolff, 198 Cal. 667.

An assessment describing a lot as follows, "In Los Angeles County, Glendale, lot 22, blk. 4," is sufficient. Furrey v. Lautz, 162 Cal. 397.

A description contained in an assessment as ‘one-half of Lot 12, Block 132," is void for uncertainty in that it cannot be ascertained therefrom what half of the lot is attempted to be described. No presumption of fact may be indulged in as to the size, location or extent of a lot, nor is parol evidence admissible to ascertain what particular tract or lot the assessor had in mind when making the assessment. Stewart v. Atkinson, 96 Cal.App. 50.

Reference to maps.—A description by lot and tract without reference to a map is prima facie invalid. Campbell v. Shafer, 162 Cal. 206; Morton v. Sloan, 96 Cal.App. 747. The court will not presume that there is a map sufficient to identify the property assessed. Fox v. Townsend, 152 Cal. 51. Evidence may be received, however, to show that there is only one map in existence which includes the lot in question, and such map may be received in evidence to identify the land. Best v. Wohlford, 144 Cal. 733.

A description "as per map of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Lot 10, Block 12" is not void for uncertainty because there are two maps of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the recorder's office, one entitled "Carmel-by-the-Sea" and the other without name, if both maps show the identical property. It is only where there is a difference between two maps so far as the assessed property is concerned that the question as to which map was intended can arise. Stewart v. Atkinson, 96 Cal.App. 50.

It has become a matter of common knowledge that block books constitute assessment maps in use by all the public offices in matters of taxation of real estate. Schainman v. All Persons, 96 Cal.App. 753.

For maps in aid of description, see also, Reclamation Dist. No. 673 v. Diepenbrock, 168 Cal. 577; Fitzsimons v. Atherton, 162 Cal. 630; Furrey v. Loutz, 162 Cal. 397; Campbell v. Shafer, 162 Cal. 206; Baird v. Monroe, 150 Cal. 560; Miller v. Williams, 135 Cal. 183; Lummer v. Unruh, 25 Cal.App. 97.