It is very likely that our Alameda County Ranch has been accessible by some type of road since before California became a state. At the time when Mexico owned California and Mexican citizens managed and/or owned the Ranchos, cattle and sheep grazed in the hills near Sunol. After the United States took title to California, the U.S. Congress created legislation that would guide the Mexican Rancho owners towards continuing ownership with a series of hearings by Land Commissions.
The area between our ranch and Sunol was Rancho land that was called Rancho El Valle de San Jose. The United States never owned this land. However there was a road over this land that provided access to our ranch. In 1882, Alameda County created a county road and called it County Road 2012. That would have been the end of the story, but so much controversy occurred over the creation of the county road that it was never completed and was eventually abandoned.
This series of events created a basis for our right of access, but it also created many serious legal challenges. In the end, we were able to negotiate a recordable easement agreement that will forever protect our right to access our property. The process took about nine years with legal costs of over $250,000.
Last week the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission approved our settlement agreement and easement agreement. Over the next month and a half the City and County of San Francisco will review the agreements and we believe that the documents will be signed.
We’ve learned a lot about easements, the legal process, litigation, negotiation and working with bureaucracy. As I gather my thoughts, I’ll come up with a process to publish some information that may be useful to others who end up in similar predicaments.