Chapter 1. Private Wharves And Piers of California Harbors And Navigation Code >> Division 7. >> Chapter 1.
The board of supervisors of any county may, upon approval of
the Public Utilities Commission, grant authority to any person to
construct a wharf, chute, or pier, on any lands bordering on any
navigable bay, lake, inlet, creek, slough, or arm of the sea,
situated in or bounding the county, with a license to take tolls for
its use for the term of 20 years.
The board of supervisors of each county may upon approval of
the Department of Finance through the Chief of the Division of State
Lands, grant authority to any city, county or person, to construct a
wharf for recreational, pleasure or boating purposes, on any lands
bordering the seashore other than lands referred to in section 4000,
situated in or bounding the county, with a license to take tolls for
its use for a term of twenty years.
Application for such authority is made by publishing notice
as required in the next section, and by filing a petition in writing,
(a) The name and residence of the applicant; and if a corporation,
a certified copy of the articles of incorporation.
(b) A map of the waters, and the name and location thereof, and of
the adjoining lands.
(c) A plan of the wharf or chute proposed to be constructed, and
of the land within three hundred feet thereof.
(d) The names of the owners of the lands, and the quantity sought
to be used, and whether the right to use it has been or is to be
acquired by the applicant.
(e) The distance it is proposed to extend the wharf or chute into
(f) The estimated cost of the construction of the wharf or chute.
(g) The time when the application will be made.
Each applicant shall publish a notice in at least one
newspaper in each county which the wharf or chute touches, and in
which it is located or which it will touch or in which it will be
located. If there is no newspaper located in the county, then
publication shall be made in a newspaper published in an adjoining
county and notices shall be posted in three public places in the
proper counties for four successive weeks. The notices shall specify
the proposed location of the wharf or chute and shall also state the
time and place at which the application will be made.
When any lands sought to be appropriated and used for a wharf
or chute are not owned by the applicant or if a right of way and use
has not been obtained by agreement, these facts and the particular
description of the land shall be set forth in the petition of the
applicant, and a copy of the notice of application shall be served on
the owner by the sheriff of the county, at least ten days prior to
the day set for the hearing. The sheriff's official return is
conclusive evidence of service.
If the owner of the land is a nonresident of the county the
sheriff may make service by leaving a copy of the notice of
application with the occupant, or agent of the owner. If there is no
occupant, or agent of the owner, the sheriff may place a copy in the
post office addressed to the owner thirty days prior to the day set
for the hearing. If the owner is a minor, insane, mentally
incapacitated, or a decedent, notice shall be served on his guardian,
administrator, or other legal representative.
On the day named in the notice, or to which the hearing is
adjourned, the board shall hear proof of the publication and service
of notice. If the proof is satisfactory, the board shall hear the
allegations of the petition and any objections to the granting of the
application, and proofs in support of each. If from the proofs it
appears that the public good or convenience will be promoted thereby,
the board may grant to the applicant the right to erect or construct
a wharf or chute as prayed for, and to take tolls for its use for
the term of twenty years.
The grant conveys to the grantee or applicant the right of
way and all necessary use, for the purposes of the wharf or chute, of
any of the overflowed, submerged, or tidelands belonging to the
State, and a right of way over any swamp, overflowed, marsh, or
tidelands lying between the wharf or chute and high or dry land,
fifty feet in width, for twenty years. The grant shall particularly
describe the extent of the property subject to the right of way.
The grant carries with it the right to have unencumbered and
unobstructed the land and water on each side of the wharf or chute
from high-water mark to navigable water, for a distance of one
hundred and fifty feet, for the convenience of landing, loading, and
unloading vessels, but for no other purpose.
After authority to construct a wharf or chute has been
granted, until the grantee has procured from the owner the
right-of-way and other necessary incidental uses of any lands
necessary for the wharf or chute, there is no authority to construct
a wharf or chute or to take tolls thereon.
The wharf or chute shall not be of a greater width than
seventy-five feet, and it may extend to navigable water. A wharf
constructed upon any of the navigable rivers, straits, sloughs, and
inlets in this State may extend along the shores for a distance not
exceeding one thousand feet if it does not obstruct the free
navigation of the water on which it is situated. This section does
not apply to the water fronts of incorporated cities or towns.
The orders granting authority, and agreements, contracts,
deeds, and decrees of courts granting the right of way and other use
of lands, shall be filed and recorded in the office of the recorder
of the county in which the wharf or chute is situated, and
constitutes the franchise of the applicant. The fees of the recorder,
as also the fees of the clerk, sheriff, and other officers, for
services rendered, shall be paid by the applicant.
The board shall annually fix the rate of tolls or wharfage
for the use of the wharf or chute, to produce an income of not less
than fifteen nor more than twenty-five per cent per annum on the fair
cash value of the wharf or chute, and on the cost of its repair and
maintenance, exclusive of the amount paid for the license required by
this chapter. The value, and the cost of repair and maintenance
shall be fixed by the board when fixing the rates of tolls or
wharfage, by hearing evidence and examining the assessment rolls of
the county. When fixed, the rates shall be furnished the owner, and a
printed or written copy conspicuously posted on the wharf or chute.
When the wharf or chute is completed and the tolls or
wharfage fixed, the owner is entitled to a license to take tolls for
the term of one year. The license shall be issued by the county
auditor on the payment of such license tax as the board may fix,
which tax, except for the first year, shall not be more than ten per
cent of the gross receipts for tolls or wharfage for the previous
year. The fee shall be paid to the county treasury for general road
An owner or keeper of a wharf or chute who takes toll or
wharfage for its use forfeits the sum of twenty-five dollars, and is
liable for all damage occasioned, if he fails to keep it in good
repair, or if it is unsafe or dangerous. The penalty may be recovered
by order of the board which granted the authority, for the use of
the general road fund of the county.
Authority shall not be granted under this chapter which will
interfere with vested rights, or interfere with or infringe grants
made by State authority. Authority to construct a wharf or chute does
not continue for a longer period than two years, unless it is
completed within that time.
The lands of the State situated in the city of San Francisco,
and those otherwise disposed of or situated within the limits of any
incorporated town or city of this State, are excluded from the
provisions of this chapter. The municipal authorities of any
incorporated city or town other than San Francisco may grant
authority to construct wharves or chutes as is herein provided for
the boards of supervisors.
A board of supervisors of a county may grant any railroad
corporation authority to construct a wharf on or in front of any
lands owned by it bordering on any navigable bay, inlet, lake, creek,
slough or arm of the sea situated in or bounding the county, with a
license to take tolls for its use for the term of the corporate
existence of the railroad corporation, not exceeding fifty years,
whenever the board finds the use of the wharf or pier is necessary to
the exercise of the franchise of the railroad corporation for
terminal purposes. The authority may be granted without offering it
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to limit the
powers of a board to grant the right to railroad corporations to
build and construct for terminal purposes on and in front of any land
owned by it a wharf of the width necessary for the carrying on of
the business of such railroad at such terminal. The wharf may extend
to the length that may be desirable, not exceeding one thousand feet,
if it does not prevent navigation.
There is excluded from the operation of this section any and all
territory and property under the jurisdiction or control of any
incorporated city or town or any board of State harbor commissioners.
All of the provisions of this chapter not in conflict with
anything in this section contained are applicable to all proceedings
under this section.