City Right of Ways

Where does my property end and the City Right of Way begin?

Have you ever wondered where your property ends and the city right of way begins? Well, you can say that there are two kinds of roads in our city, publicly – owned roads and privately – owned roads. Public roads lie within a larger tract of land called a Right of Way (ROW) which usually is 50 feet wide but can vary due to the classification of the road and the time the road came into existence. For normal “Local Roads” which serve residential neighborhoods we require a 50 foot ROW but some of the older roads in our city were created with a 40 foot ROW.

If you live on a public road the most accurate approach to determine the end of your property and the beginning of the city ROW is to locate your front property corners or property pins. This is the boundary and if you tie a string on one property corner and stretch it to the other property corner you will have a pretty good delineation of the boundary line. Anything on the side of the line where your house is located is your land, and anything on the side of the line that the road is located on is property owned by the city.

If the road in front of your property is on a curve then the line has to become an arc. In this case the delineation is not as accurate but you will have a general idea. A surveyor may need to be consulted if you are considering a significant improvement along the ROW.

If you can’t find your front property corners you need to know more information about the public road in front of your property, basically, how wide is the ROW (40 feet, 50 feet, etc.). There are tools on the web that may be of service to you like using the following Pierce County link to help you with the ROW width of your road.

Public GIS Link

Assuming that the road (the paved portion that you drive on) is in the center of the ROW (most roads are placed in the center of the ROW) and assuming that you live on a local road that has a 50 foot ROW, your property line would be approximately 25 feet (half the ROW width) from the road centerline or the middle of the paved road. A tape measure will get you pretty close to the ROW line and your front property line. Items that should be on the city ROW are 1) road side ditches, 2) sidewalks, 3) utility poles, 4) phone pedestals or utility vaults, and 5) your water meter. These are visual checks you can use to get you in the “ball park”.

Some work in the ROW requires permits from the City of Bonney Lake, if you are unsure, we are available to help you at the Permit Center, please call 253-447-4356.

If you live on a private road you may own to the middle of the road or in some cases you may own the entire road. In the private road scenario it’s best to consult your property deed or final plat documents.


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