An Orange County company is helping Russia set up a system so esoteric that few outside the fields of land planning and property taxation have ever heard of it: a land cadastre.
The "land" part is self-evident; it's "cadastre" that throws people. The word was coined by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800s to describe a systematic classification and valuation of all French lands under control of the government. The word comes from the Greek term katastichon, meaning "line by line."
The modern cadastre is a system in which all of the tax, financial and legal records pertaining to a piece of land are linked together, said Daniel Abraham, vice president of Infotec Development Inc., the Santa Ana company heading a study of the feasibility of creating a cadastre that would keep track of every parcel of property in the Russian Federation.
"It is like linking together everything that the tax assessor, the county recorder and the county surveyor do," Abraham said.
In Russia, the first step will be to enact laws that recognize private property. Next, the federation will have to set tax rates and establish zoning and planning codes and surveying standards.
Then the cadastre team can file each parcel in a computer log that will contain a map, a legal description of the boundaries, and other details such as its legal title, physical description, improvements on the land, the zoning classification, tax rates and liens, if any, against the title. The files, Abraham said, might even include copies of plans for buildings and building additions.
The last time an entire nation put together such a land program, Abraham said, was in the early 1900s, when Australia did so. The United States and most other countries, by contrast, have developed and maintained their property record systems locally.