Thursday, August 29, 2013

August Program Review - Terry Connors, San Diego County Surveyor

Our speaker at the August 28th Chula Vista Genealogical Society meeting was Terry Connors, the San Diego County Land Surveyor, with the Department of Public Works.  There were 31 members and guests in attendance.  

Terry's presentation was about "Surveying and Land Records" especially in San Diego County.  He provided a brief description of the history of land surveying, including measurements, directions, and the system of rectangular surveys used in the Western States (principal meridians, baselines, ranges, townships, sections and aliquot parts of sections).  The top of Mount San Bernardino is the "center point" for Southern California.  

The San Diego County Surveyor's office website is at  Terry described many of the functions of his office and department in his presentation.  The County Surveyor's office serves 18 cities, the County, utilities, CalTrans, tribes, railroads, US Geological Survey, National Geodetic Survey, Bureau of Land Management, and other entities.  

The major tasks in the Land Surveyor's office include:

*  State Licensed Surveys (SLS) of land within the county, including legal descriptions (section, parcel, metes and bounds, qualifiers, etc.), corner records (street intersections showing monument locations and preservation, lot lines).  Property tax assessor maps are not surveyed.

*  Field Surveys for construction, transportation, roads, flood control, airports, park and recreation, general services easements, etc.

*  San Diego County Real Time Network GPS - the commercial Global Positioning System is accurate to about 5 meters.  The SD RTN is accurate to 0.5 meters with 19 base stations in the County.

Terry showed several examples of the surveying maps and lists during his presentation.  He also brought three of the earliest books showing land surveying in San Diego County:

*  An 1853 book with the first surveys showing owners of land parcels.
*  A ledger from the Board of Supervisors listing actions relating to land records
*  A plat book from 1910-1912 time frame for each township showing names on property in rural areas.  

In closing, Terry had a little quiz for us:  How many of the four men on Mount Rushmore were surveyors?  Does anyone know the answer?

This was a fascinating presentation for genealogists interested in land records.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and appreciated Terry coming to share his knowledge and the functions of his office with us.  He noted that some of the land surveying records are available at the County Land Surveyor's office in San Diego.   The research counter (located in Cartographic Services, 5510 Overland Avenue, 2nd Floor, Room 270, San Diego, California, 92123) has the following documents available:  BLM plats and notes, GIS maps, vertical benchmarks and other miscellaneous record documents.

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