Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGLO 1979 No. 29 - August 24, 1979
AGO Opinion Header Image
Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTIES ‑- PLATS AND SUBDIVISIONS ‑- APPROVAL OF DEDICATIONS IN SHORT PLAT

A county, under authority of RCW 58.17.060, may adopt an ordinance which would authorize the director of planning to approve a short plat containing dedications without submission of the dedications to the county commissioners for approval under RCW 58.17.070.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 August 24, 1979

Honorable Arthur R. Eggers
Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney
407 Drumheller Building
Walla Walla, Washington 99362                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1979 No. 29

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have requested our opinion on the following question:

            "May a county, under authority of RCW 58.17.060, adopt an ordinance which would authorize the Director of Planning to approve a short plat which contains dedications without submission of the dedications to the County Commissioners for approval as provided in RCW 58.17.070?"

            We answer the foregoing question in the affirmative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 58.17 RCW relates to plats, subdivisions and dedications.  Before turning to the substantive provisions of the chapter which relates to your question the following definitions from RCW 58.17.020 are to be noted:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "(1) 'Subdivision' is the division of land into five or more lots, tracts, parcels, sites or divisions for the purpose of sale or lease and shall include all resubdivision of land.

            "(2) 'Plat' is a map or representation of a subdivision, showing thereon the division of a tract or parcel of land into lots, blocks, streets and alleys or other divisions and dedications.

            "(3) 'Dedication' is the deliberate appropriation of land by an owner for any general and public uses, reserving to himself no other rights than such as are compatible with the full exercise and enjoyment of the public uses to which the property has been devoted.  The intention to dedicate shall be evidenced by the owner by the presentment for filing of a final plat or short plat showing the dedication thereon; and, the acceptance by the public shall be evidenced by the approval of such plat for filing by the appropriate governmental unit.

            ". . .

            "(5) 'Final plat' is the final drawing of the subdivision and dedication prepared for filing for record with the county auditor and containing all elements and requirements set forth in this chapter and in local regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter.

            "(6) 'Short subdivision' is the division of land into four or less lots, tracts, parcels, sites or subdivisions for the purpose of sale or lease.

            "(7) 'Short plat' is the map or representation of a short subdivision.

            ". . ."

            The first of the two substantive sections cited in your question, RCW 58.17.060, relates to short plats and short subdivision and, as amended by § 3, chapter 134, Laws of 1974, Ex. Sess., now reads as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "The legislative body of a city, town, or county shall adopt regulations and procedures, and appoint administrative personnel for the summary approval of short plats and short subdivisions, or revision thereof. Such regulations shall be adopted by ordinance and may contain wholly different requirements than those governing the approval of preliminary and final plats of subdivisions and may require surveys and monumentations and shall require filing of a short plat for record in the office of the county auditor:  Provided, That such regulations must contain a requirement that land in short subdivisions may not be further divided in any manner within a period of five years without the filing of a final plat:  Provided further, That such regulations are not required to contain a penalty clause as provided in RCW 36.32.120 and may provide for wholly injunctive relief."

            RCW 58.17.070, in turn, codifies the original provisions of § 7, chapter 271, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., and says that:

            "A preliminary plat of proposed subdivisions and dedications of land shall be submitted for approval to the legislative body of the city, town, or county within which the plat is situated."

            The basic issue raised by your question is whether this last quoted section of chapter 58.17 RCW is applicable to a dedication which is contained in a short plat that has been filed with a county director of planning in accordance with seemingly inconsistent provisions of a county short plat ordinance adopted under RCW 58.17.060, supra.  In our opinion RCW 58.17.070 is not applicable in such a case and, therefore, your question, as stated above, is answerable in the affirmative; i.e., if so authorized by the subject ordinance, the director of planning may,

            ". . . approve a short plat which contains dedications without submission of the dedications to the county commissioners for approval as provided in RCW 58.17.070."

            In the first place, you will readily note that RCW 58.17.060,supra, expressly authorizes a county, in connection with its short plat ordinance, to,

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            ". . . appoint administrative personnel for the summary approval of short plats and short subdivisions, . . ."

            In addition, that same statute further provides that a county short plat ordinance,

            ". . . may contain wholly different requirements than those governing the approval of preliminary and final plats and subdivisions . . ."

            Bearing this in mind let us now return, once again, to the definition of "dedication" in RCW 58.17.020(3), supra.  There, we find the following pertinent language:

            ". . . The intention to dedicate shall be evidenced by the owner by the presentment for filing of a final plat or short plat showing the dedication thereon; and, the acceptance by the public shall be evidenced by the approval of such plat for filingby the appropriate governmental unit."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            What all of this means, in our opinion, is that in the case of a dedication contained in a short plat, as opposed to the plat of a full subdivision, acceptance by the county is manifested by approval of the short plat itself‑-in whatever manner is provided for by the particular county's short plat ordinance.  Thus, if the legislative body of the county, in adopting that short plat ordinance, has authorized the director of planning to approve short plats it has thereby also authorized the director of planning to accept any dedications contained therein on behalf of the county.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo