Monument Referencing Before Construction


New construction and alteration projects that require a permit for public right of way work often spend a year or more working with San Francisco Public Works (“DPW”) towards an issued permit. It is only upon approval that a parallel group within DPW, the Preservation Monument Team, notifies permit applicants that they must reference all monuments within 20 feet of construction prior to starting work within the public right of way.

In 2018, under DPW Order 187,592, the City and County of San Francisco (“CCSF”) Bureau of Street Use and Mapping (“BSM”) established clear guidelines for this process, however it is not identified on the DPW applications as being a step required for issuance. Because of the delayed notice of the monument referencing requirement some projects and contractors incur significant postponement to their schedules because they cannot activate a street improvement permit until this process is completed.

Monuments are essential to establishing and maintaining horizontal and vertical survey control for subdivisions, tracts, boundaries, roads, streets or highways and are further protected under California state law under Penal Code § 605, Streets and Highways Code §§ 732, 732.5, 1492.5, 1810.5, as well as Business and Professions Code §§ 8725, 8771 and 8773.3.

Due to the potential for movement or disturbance of survey monument during construction, all monuments within 20 feet of any proposed construction must be located and referenced through a field survey and the filing of a Corner Record, or Record of Survey, prior to any construction taking place. This is to allow for positional verification or replacement should a monument be disturbed or removed by the construction. Referencing can be conducted by a licensed Land Surveyor or CCSF BSM.

Currently, when a street improvement, minor sidewalk encroachment, or excavation permit is approved, the known monuments are referenced on the permit, however there are monuments that are not of record. Not of record means the monument does not appear on any maps or documentation that has been duly noticed by recordation with the City and County of San Francisco. DPW Order 187,592 requires that an onsite field review is performed to determine if such non-record monuments exist.

As described in CCSF BSM’s guidelines, non-record monuments are “old original subdivision marks that typically do not appear on any record maps. Within the City and County of San Francisco, not of record monuments typically are “L”, “T” and “+” cuts and lead plugs with brass tacks. ““L”, “T”, “+” cuts, lead plugs with brass tacks and or 1-inch disks are typically located in curbs and additionally can reside anywhere along property lines extending from street curb to the back of sidewalk.” Projects will need to submit a letter from a licensed surveyor indicating that they performed a field survey and no monuments were found. The CCSF BSM guidelines have detailed pictures and examples of what to survey for in the field.

While it is the responsibility CCSF BSM to preserve these survey monuments and to maintain their exact positions, it is the project sponsor’s responsibility to survey for the monuments both through the monumental map and in the field. Performing this survey when you file street improvement applications rather than waiting until they are issued will save your project time.

Extended Referencing is required where construction proceeded prior to standard monument referencing having been performed. This can happen when due to the backlog and delays in DPW permits being issued, a project decides to proceed with work “at risk” and/or was unfamiliar with the DPW order. In these situations, a comprehensive field survey and office analysis shall be required to determine if the construction activity caused any potential movement of the monument or to reestablish the monument position if a monument was destroyed. To perform this Extended Referencing, additional fees shall be assessed and are estimated to be $10,000 or more. If any monuments are covered, disturbed, destroyed, or removed, any costs incurred to re-establish the monument will be in addition to the initial application fee and may vary due to time and methods required. If you elect to have CCSF DPW BSM conduct research, please contact to request a proposal of these services.

Project teams who wish for BSM to perform the field survey and referencing should apply six to eight weeks ahead of construction to allow for payment to clear and crews to be scheduled. CCSF BSM Standard Referencing Fee is $3,876 and CCSF BSM Monument Referencing Fee for 2020-2021 is $3,876 per monument and covers the field and office-related costs for the standard monument referencing process. The Monument Referencing Fee is adjusted each year to reflect changes in the relevant Consumer Price Index. Before contacting BSM to do the monument referencing, please fill out and submit an application.


Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Manager, Post Entitlement Division Gillian Allen.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.