CITY OF YAKIMA EASEMENT INFORMATION
This brochure answers many common questions about access and easement rights as they pertain to City utilities.
WHAT IS AN EASEMENT?
An easement is an interest in land owned by another person, consisting in the right to use or control the land, or an area above or below it, for a specific limited purpose. Put another way, the holder of an easement right has the ability to use the land of another for a specific purpose, not however he or she wishes. The owner of the property has the right to full possession and use subject to the limitation that the owner cannot interfere with the right of the easement holder to use the land as allowed by the easement.
WHAT EASEMENT RIGHTS ARE HELD BY THE CITY OF YAKIMA?
Easements to construct, maintain and operate utilities such as wastewater, water and storm water facilities are generally created when the plat for a neighborhood is developed and filed. There are also other ways that easements are created which may pertain to your property. The City operates and maintains wastewater, water, irrigation and storm water facilities and services for the residents of Yakima. This sometimes requires access to private property. When the City’s utility facilities need to be inspected or maintained, easements allow authorized personnel to access the area without obtaining prior approval from the property owner, although the City will try to contact property owners prior to entry.
WHY ARE EASEMENTS NECESSARY?
The City of Yakima generally holds easement rights across private property to access the City’s utility facilities, such as wastewater, water, irrigation and storm water systems, pipelines, drains, waterlines and other public facilities. To best serve our customers—the residents of Yakima—the City occasionally needs to access private property through these easements. Routine maintenance and repair work are essential to maintaining the wastewater, water, irrigation and storm water systems in Yakima. Further, during emergency conditions, access to sewer, water, irrigation and storm water facilities, and the ability to work within easements on these facilities, are essential to the City’s work. There may also be other utilities in these easements such as natural gas, power, telephone, cable TV or other irrigation.
A functioning wastewater, water, irrigation or storm water collection and distribution system is complex. For example, the sewer system collects sewage from dwellings throughout the City and routes it many miles to the Yakima Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant through a vast system of collection sewer pipelines, manholes and pump stations. Pipelines for the sewer system are located in many places, which can include within the street, or, in some cases, within a resident’s backyard. It is necessary for Public Works personnel to access pipelines or other facilities that are located in yards to serve and maintain the system. The ability to service and maintain wastewater, water, irrigation and storm water systems ensures that the systems function properly for all residents in Yakima.
USE OF THE EASEMENT BY PROPERTY OWNERS.
Although both the property owner and the City are entitled to use the easement for their respective uses, there are some things that property owners can do to help alleviate any problems when access to the easement by the City is necessary. Property owners cannot limit the City’s use of the easement for accessing its utilities. Fences, buildings, walls, plantings or trees should not be placed within the easement area. The easement area should be left free of obstructions for full access to City facilities. Property owners may not interfere with the construction, operation, maintenance, inspection or use of City of Yakima utility facilities within the easement area.
COMMUNICATION WITH PROPERTY OWNERS.
The City attempts to contact property owners prior to entering private property. However, in cases of emergency, or cases where property owners cannot be reached ahead of time, authorized personnel from the City may enter private property to maintain, inspect, operate, construct, repair or otherwise use the utilities located on the property in the easement. During emergency situations, property owners may not receive notice of entry. In most cases, the City will try to provide notice prior to entry onto private property. The City’s goal is to work with property owners with regard to access to and use of the easement area.
If there is an emergency, or access is necessary before the property owner can be notified, the Public Works personnel may need to enter without notification or the assistance of the property owner. The City will attempt to use the least destructive means in accessing a resident’s property in the event there are obstructions in accessing or using the easement area. The City is not responsible for replacement if landscaping or obstructions must be removed in these circumstances.
The City’s goal is to complete the necessary work as quickly as possible. With good communication between the property owner and the City, and an easement area that is free from obstructions, work and restoration may occur more quickly.
WHERE CAN A PROPERTY OWNER FIND OUT ABOUT EASEMENTS ON HIS OR HER PROPERTY?
If you would like to learn more about easements on your property there are a few ways to get that information. If you kept the documents you were provided at the time you purchased your property there may be a plat map enclosed with those documents. The plat may likely shows the easement area. If you do not have those documents, the City may have the plat available at City Hall, Second Floor, in the Planning Division. For other easements, such telephone, natural gas, or cable, you may need to contact your provider.
WHO SHOULD PROPERTY OWNERS CONTACT WITH QUESTIONS?
If you have questions about the City’s easement access, you may call one of the following numbers:
For questions about Wastewater or Stormwater projects and easement access:
Mike Price, Wastewater/Stormwater Manager
For questions about Water or Irrigation projects and easement access:
Mike Shane, Water/Irrigation Engineer