Federal Surveys

River Restoration Surveys


LACO’s land surveyors have considerable experience in a wide range of survey categories. We offer comprehensive land surveying services throughout Northern California, including our expanded market in the Chico, Paradise, Oroville and outlying areas. Under the direction of Vice President of Land Surveying services Brad Thomas, our firm has a history of success with clients in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Mendocino, and Humboldt Counties. We look forward to serving Butte County as we have since 1954 in the North Coast and North Bay Regions.

The firm utilizes state of art technologies enabling us to complete our assignments timely and economically.  In the office, we use CAD software including AutoCAD Civil 3D and ESRI ArcMAP. In the field, our crews are equipped with GPS RTK and Static Receivers, Robotic and Mechanical Total Stations and Electronic Data Collection. Travel is with both all-terrain and four-wheel drive vehicles.

Special Note regarding Fire Recovery Services

LACO’s surveying and engineering staff have been on the front lines of fire recovery and work together to offer compassionate service to residents and businesses who have suffered unimaginable losses in the Northern California wildfires. We are skilled in Architectural Site Surveys, Topographic Mapping, Boundary Line Establishment, Erosion Control Plans, Grading and Drainage Plans, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans, Permit Processing, and Structural Engineering.

LACO’s Land Surveying expertise includes the following professional services:

A Topographic Survey measures the elevation of points on land and presents them as contour lines on a map. Planimetric features such as roads, structures and utilities are also collected. The purpose of a topographic survey is to illustrate natural and man-made features existing on the land. A Topographic Map is utilized by Architects and Engineers in the planning and design of site improvements and land development.

A Boundary Establishment Survey is performed to determine the location of property lines and corners of a parcel of land as described in a grant deed. Easements might also be included in the survey. Research and review of public records is conducted prior to the survey. The survey may be as easy as recovering and flagging existing monuments such as iron pipes and becomes more complex when the property corners are lacking monumentation. A survey that discloses discrepancy with public records requires the filing of a Record of Survey Map with the county.

Aerial Photogrammetry is the practice of determining the geometric properties of objects from photographic images. Aerial Photogrammetry is as old as modern photography and can be dated to the mid-nineteenth century. A camera suitable for photogrammetry can be mounted in a fixed wing aircraft, helicopter or drone.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of a target by illuminating the target with light using pulses from a laser. A laser suitable for LiDAR can be mounted in a fixed wing aircraft, helicopter, drone, automobile or handheld.

Drone Surveys use the same aerial photogrammetry technique. Drones are used to capture images to make a map. A camera or laser is mounted to the bottom of a drone and pointed down to the ground. The flight of the drone is pre-programmed and utilizes the Global Positioning System, GPS for navigation.

The Elevation Certificate is an administrative tool used by the National Flood Insurance Program to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances; determine the proper insurance premium rate; and or support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove land or a building from the Special Flood Hazard Area.

A LOMA Application is made to FEMA in situations where a property owner thinks their property was inadvertently mapped in a high-risk flood area, also known as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), also known as a flood map, FEMA provides a process to request a change in the flood zone designation for the property. To make submitting LOMA requests quicker and easier, FEMA created the  electronic Letter of Map Amendment (eLOMA) tool. It is a web-based application that provides approved land surveyors with a system to submit  LOMA requests. The eLOMA tool is designed specifically for registered users to generate a determination from FEMA within minutes or weeks rather than the typical two to three months otherwise using the US Mail.

Subdivisions are regulated by the The California Subdivision Map Act and defined as “The division, by any subdivider, of any unit or units of improved or unimproved land, or any portion thereof, shown on the last equalized county assessment roll as a unit or as contiguous units for the purpose of sale, lease or financing, whether immediate or in the future.” The subdivision of land is a two step process with the governing local agency. An application for tentative approval is made and upon approval, a Parcel Map or Final Map is prepared. Minor subdivisions proposing four or fewer parcels are designated Parcel Maps. Major subdivisions proposing five or more parcels are designated Final Maps.

The term “Legal Description” refers to the written description of property and certain other data that identifies the subject piece of property. Every legal description should provide the name of the county in which the property is located and, if so divided, the judicial district within that county. The most common methods of describing land are:

Fractional designation is the most common form of legal description used in the United States. The rectangular system of surveying adopted by the United States in 1785 established a system of baselines and meridians to have permanent reference points across the country.

Metes and Bounds descriptions identify land by reference to (1) natural or artificial boundaries such as streets, roads, or creeks, or (2) the land of adjoining owners, such as Smith on the south, Williams on the west. Many surveyors refer to a courses-and-distances description as a metes-and-bounds description.

Courses and Distances is one of the oldest methods of describing land. A definite point of beginning is of utmost importance in this type of description. From that point of beginning, a line running a certain distance is drawn to another point, and then from that point, the line is drawn a certain distance to another point, and so on until the line returns to the point of beginning.

A Subdivision Lot description (lot and block numbers) is a legal description that does not describe each boundary line, but that refers to a plat, survey, deed, or other instrument that does show the full, particular legal description.

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey, sometimes referred to as “the Cadillac of Surveys” is a standardized survey accepted across all fifty states. An ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey has especially stringent requirements as developed by a joint effort of the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. The ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey incorporates a nationwide uniform set of standards. The survey is specifically designed to satisfy the needs of lenders, corporations and title companies when dealing with valuable commercial properties. An ALTA land survey incorporates elements of the boundary survey, title report and topographic survey.

Construction Related Surveying, also known as construction staking, stake-out and lay-out, is a survey establishing reference points that will guide the construction of new structures such as buildings, roads or pipelines. The reference points are usually staked out according to an approved set of construction drawings.

A Lot Line Adjustment (LLA) is a realignment of boundary lines between two to four existing legal parcels where the land taken from one parcel is added to an adjacent parcel. This process is undertaken when the owners of adjacent lots desire to change the shape, size, or location of the parcels. Lot line Adjustments require local agency approval.

A Bathymetric Survey involves the measurements of underwater depth of rivers, lakes or ocean floors. A bathymetric survey is the underwater equivalent to a topographic survey.

Condominium Plans define the individual living space units of residential and commercial condominium complexes. Condominiums offer a type of living space similar to an apartment but independently sellable and therefore regarded as real estate. The condominium building is divided into units that are each separately owned. The Building(s) and surrounding common area(s) are jointly owned.

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