Meandering about Lakefront Boundaries

  • December 11, 2019

If you own waterfront property, where is your property boundary, and who is your adjacent parcel owner on the waterfront?

At Lake Tahoe and many other inland (“non-tidal”) bodies of water, the boundary between the waterfront property (a/k/a the “upland” parcel) and the body of water is defined by a \ line that roughly parallels the water’s edge.  This line is called “meander line.”  In 1861 and 1875, prior to the sale of government lands around Lake Tahoe, government surveyors created a meander line along the edge of Lake Tahoe. The meander line is generally some distance landward from the water’s edge (not the actual high water mark) and was used to determine the acreage and price of the lands to be sold by the federal government to the original land patent holders.

State and federal law provide that when title to waterfront property is described by a meander line of a government survey, or by a subsequent subdivision of the same land bounded by the meander line, the title of the upland owner extends to the body of water itself.   So, just how far does the parcel extend toward the body of water?

If an inland body of water is navigable – like Lake Tahoe – the State owns the lakebed as it existed at the time of statehood (which typically means before there were dams, or artificial raising and lowering of the lake level).  In Nevada, a 1979 statute established the boundary line of the lakebed at 6,223 feet, Lake Tahoe datum, which approximates the lake’s ordinary low water level.  Accordingly, a deed conveying lakefront land on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe that uses the old government survey meander line as the boundary conveys title all the way to the lakebed at 6,223 feet.  This means your neighbor along the water’s edge is the State of Nevada.  

Similar rules apply in California. Generally, the owner of the upland, when it borders on tidal waters, takes to ordinary high-water mark; when it borders upon a navigable lake or stream, where there is no tide, the owner takes to the edge of the lake or stream, at low-water mark; when it borders upon any other water, the owner takes to the middle of the lake or stream. In Tahoe where there is no tide, the rights of the owner to low-water mark are included in the conveyance.

In California, even though a private landowner’s title extends to the ordinary low water mark, there is an easement or public trust under which the general public may recreate in the land area that lies between the ordinary low and high-water marks.  Nevada recognizes the public trust doctrine in certain instances, but does not recognize a right of the public to sunbathe or recreate in the area between low and high water. Waterfront land is usually the most valuable property in any particular market.  As you can see, there are some unique rules that apply to valuable land with waterfront boundaries.  If you have questions about your waterfront boundaries, please call Incline Law Group, LLP.

California Property Tax Exemptions

  • June 4, 2019

The majority of people who live in or near California have heard the term Prop 13 at some time or another.  Prop 13 caps increases in property taxes if the property owner meets certain requirements.  A somewhat less known law in California is Prop 60 and Prop 90 (sometimes referred to as Prop 60/90), which amended the California Constitution.  This exemption allows a resident that is 55 or older, in certain circumstances, to sell his/her property and replace it with another while maintaining the Prop 13 tax basis on the original property.  There are many restrictions and rules to using Prop 60/90, some of which are discussed below.

To qualify for
Prop 60/90, the resident must be over the age of 55 or a severely and permanently disabled person.  Next, the replacement dwelling must be of equal or lesser value and be purchased within two years of the sale of the original property.  In most circumstances, this exemption may only be used once.

Ten counties have adopted ordinances that allow residents to take advantage of Prop 60/90 even when relocating to/from other counties.  However, if your property is not located in one of these counties the replacement property must be in the same county as the original property. There are other requirements that must be met under Prop 60/90 but this law can be a great way for someone to relocate while maintaining their property tax basis.  This allows for mobility of many seasoned Californians looking to downsize.  If you would like to learn more about this property tax exemption and whether you qualify, do not hesitate to contact our office.

Do you hire employees or independent contractors? The answer is probably both.

  • February 15, 2018

Do you hire employees or independent contractors? The answer is probably both.

Employers routinely consider a number of factors in whether to hire an employee or an independent contractor as their business grows.  It is important for businesses to be able to explain why the “independent contractor” the company just hired is actually an “employee” under the law or vice versa.  SB 224, recently passed by the Nevada legislature and signed by Governor Sandoval went into effect on June 2, 2015.  This law provides much more clear guidance on what qualifies for “independent contractor” status and what doesn’t.  SB 224 creates a conclusive presumption that an individual is an independent contractor for Nevada wage and hour claims if certain conditions are met. Do you hire employees or independent contractors?

This is yet another list of “factors” that business owners and their respective counsel must become familiar.  Of potentially greater importance will be determining which law will apply and when.  There is a different test in determining the employment classification of a person in each of the follow circumstances: (1) wage and hour claims under Nevada law; (2) wage and hour claims under federal law; (3) workers compensation claims; (4) and unemployment claims.  It is entirely possible that under the wage and hour law in Nevada an individual could be considered an independent contractor, but if terminated, the individual could file for unemployment and be classified as an employee.

While some of the factors in each test overlap, using all the factors in each test will, in many cases, result in different classifications for the same individual.  It is now more important than ever to consult your legal counsel to protect your business so that you can properly structure job descriptions for your employees and/or independent contractors to benefit your business as well as plan for the changes in classification that may occur in the event of injury (worker’s compensation claims) or termination (unemployment claims).

If you need more information or have any questions regarding how the new law may affect your business, do not hesitate to contact Incline Law Group, LLP for some clarity on the subject.