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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    1

    Default Can the City Force Me to Connect to City Sewer

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California (Sonoma County)

    I purchased a lot that is in the city limits but does not have sewer adjacent to the property. To access the sewer main via the road (normal connection to sewer), I would need to travel ~1,000 feet. There is a sewer clean up located 490 feet away from my lot BUT to access this cutout I would have to cross 2 other lots. I do not have an easement to cross these 2 lots and 1 of the land owners is not interested in granting me access to cross his lot. Quite honestly, I don't blame him. I wouldn't want a sewer line running across his lot.

    Anyway, when I approached the city to inquire about septic, they responded that I MUST connect to city sewer because I am inside 500 feet. Here is the excerpt from the City Code that they sent me:
    (C) Any new development located on a parcel within 500 feet of the public sewer, as measured from the property line closest to the available sewer, is required to connect to public sewer. This requirement also pertains to the construction of an additional unit on the existing parcel. (Ord. 3895 § 1, 2008)

    My question is, 'Can the City force me to connect to city sewer given the above scenario?'

    It seems to me that the language suggests 'available sewer' within 500 feet. The cutout is NOT available to me given that I need to get easements to connect to it. What is 'available' to me is connecting to the sewer main which would require me going down the street and around the corner which is approximately 1K feet.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance/advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,504

    Default Re: Can the City Force Me to Connect to City Sewer

    The simple answer is that the City can require you to hook up the municipal sewer under the terms of the ordinance requiring it. The language is clear and unambiguous that you posted.

    (C) Any new development located on a parcel within 500 feet of the public sewer, as measured from the property line closest to the available sewer, is required to connect to public sewer. This requirement also pertains to the construction of an additional unit on the existing parcel. (Ord. 3895 § 1, 2008)
    So you are stuck. If you want to develop the property you have to play by their rules. A sewer cleanout is not necessarily a connection point. And if you have to traverse other's property where some will not grant you an easement, you have no alternative. You can't force someone to give the easement. You are left with running that 1K feet to the sewer connection.

    This is something that you should have considered before you bought the property. This ordinance was passed or last amended in 2008. That is 10 years ago. When did you buy the property?

    So you understand, if we were speaking of a water line, this would not be an issue because a corporation to a waterline can be made anywhere along the line. But this is a sewer line and it would take some major work to get you connect where you think it is convenient.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1,776

    Default Re: Can the City Force Me to Connect to City Sewer

    The ordinance you quoted seems clear as a bell. If your property is "within 500 feet of the public sewer, as measured from the property line closest to the available sewer," then you will have to comply or be in violation. If you have an argument that it's not applicable to your situation, then you're free to state your position to the city and see what response you get or simply proceed to do what you want and potentially take a risk. A consultation with a local real estate attorney might not be a bad idea.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,504

    Default Re: Can the City Force Me to Connect to City Sewer

    Understand this: Sewer districts, municipal sewer authorities, and county sewer jurisdictions want users. They want connection fees and user fees. That is how they sustain the system.

    OP can make any claim he wants but in the end he will connect and pay according to the ordinances or he will not get to develop his property.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,454

    Default Re: Can the City Force Me to Connect to City Sewer

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    OP can make any claim he wants but in the end he will connect and pay according to the ordinances or he will not get to develop his property.
    He would have to that if the conditions set out in the ordinance are in fact met. What pg1067 was getting at, and he stated it correctly, is that if the OP has an argument to make that the property does not fall within the conditions of the ordinance (e.g. the proper measurement from the property line to sewer is more than 500') then he certainly is free to make that argument and see what the city comes back with.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,504

    Default Re: Can the City Force Me to Connect to City Sewer

    What the city will come back with is exactly what they told OP the first time he inquired. The argument that OP is making is that there is a clean out point that is closer to his property than the sewer main where he would have to connect although he would be traversing private property and at least one property said no.

    The question is not whether he is within the 500' of the main. There are connection points built into the system. OP happens to be 1000' (without going over private property) from that connection point. That doesn't mean that his property is a 1000' feet from the sewer. He may just have to run 1000' of sewer line to get to the main (perhaps on his own property). If the sewer runs down the street, his property is likely within 500' of the sewer. That doesn't speak to how much pipe he would have to install.

    Put it this way, if his house was setback from the road 1000' and the sewer ran down the road easement, then his property is indeed within 500' that the ordinance speaks of. The fact that he may be able to take a different route to another road that is less than 1000' doesn't obviate him from the requirement of the ordinance.

    It is the property line that matters, not how much pipe you have to install to get from the house to the sewer.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,783

    Default Re: Can the City Force Me to Connect to City Sewer

    It seems to me that the language suggests 'available sewer' within 500 feet. The cutout is NOT available to me given that I need to get easements to connect to it. What is 'available' to me is connecting to the sewer main which would require me going down the street and around the corner which is approximately 1K feet.
    what is the distance from the point along your property boundary to the closest available connection point of the sewer That is measured from your property line. Pipe you have to run on your own property is not counted


    A side note: if the topography requires you to utilize a lift station, start getting prices for thst too. The city isn’t likely to exempt you just because a lift station is needed

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