Thursday, May 26, 2016

ALTA/NSPS Question

It seems that I'm at odds with some on whether in performing either a boundary survey or an ALTA/NSPS survey one should find as many property corners or monuments as possible on the block in which the parcel is situated. Some say just locate the property corners of the site for an ALTA/NSPS survey, while if you are doing a boundary then you go outside your site. I believe you should do this for both in order to prove that the parcel is where it is supposed to be. Am I wrong in thinking this way? Is an ALTA/NSPS survey more like a supersized mortgage survey where you just find the property corners of that parcel or site, and then any additional items on Schedule A? I'm curious now.

Those who say that an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey is something less than a boundary survey are woefully misinformed and have apparently not read the Standards. A Land Title Survey is not just a supersized mortgage survey. Here is what Section 3.D. of the 2016 (and 2011) Standards say about this issue. "The boundary lines and corners of any property being surveyed as part of an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey shall be established and/or retraced in accordance with appropriate boundary law principles governed by the set of facts and evidence found in the course of performing the research and fieldwork." Clearly an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey is a boundary survey. It's a boundary survey to a higher set of standards than a "generic" boundary survey. Someone approaching a Land Title Survey as something less than a boundary survey would likely suffer a claim of malpractice or negligence if something goes wrong.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why no "leaning towers"? Thank a surveyor!

Surveyors from the Downtown office of the engineering and consulting firm Psomas inspect the Wilshire Grand tower almost every day to make sure that the 73-story building is standing straight. Misplaced joints or angles that are off by a fraction of a degree can pose big problems as skyscrapers rise.
photo by Gary Leonard

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pipeline Safety Bill

The Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a pipeline safety bill with a provision on enhanced mapping and location data.

Friday, January 8, 2016


By John Stock, NSPS President No. 6 (1986)
Back in the day: Okay don’t groan. This is not another dinosaur Stock’s tale of physical adventure. I have been looking for an explanation of why surveyors have done a great job of ignoring their duty as land boundary experts and allowing kindred members of the geospatial industry to rob them of their rightful place. My own career starting in 1966 is a prime example. The tools of the trade were a transit, steel tape, and dumpy level and “Philadelphia” level rod. The crew was at least three and sometimes four members. Everyone had a specific duty and all had to perform correctly to achieve results. Consider a boundary traverse in the high country.
There was the party chief, the instrument man, and the brush cutter at a minimum. The instrument man (gunner) sometimes doubled as the tail chain, the party chief head chained and took the notes. He also assisted in clearing line. All the equipment was mechanical, without batteries, all data was hand written and information was yelled back and forth between crew members. You get the idea now how easily blunders could occur. Then came the office grind and a real grind it was. The task of looking up numbers in trig tables, more writing, calculating sometimes with a pencil and if lucky a primitive calculator like a Singer, Monroe or Friden the size of a TV set that would add, subtract, multiply and divide contributed to the tedious and mind numbing drill. Then came adjustments, Transit rule, compass rule, filling out a sheet and more computations by double meridian distance to get an area. This was hard, brain sucking work that had to be done perfectly. Chasing down a blundered calculation in this myriad of numbers was a true nightmare. With all this to perform it would seem very difficult if not incredibly budget blowing to do any real research. After all you would have to go down to the courthouse, ask questions of staff, dig through books, and make more notes, make copies and pay for them. Many didn’t bother to do this critical step. Oh, and don’t forget getting ahold of the appropriate GLO notes and plats. Expert MEASURING dominated the labor effort.
Not reading Clark, Skelton and especially Brown in those days was standard procedure. The surveyor might have owned the books but rarely cracked them (just like today huh?) And don’t forget the various BLM manuals of Instruction that our State Boards and Legislators saddled us with, requiring us (at least in our minds) to do it “their way”. Because we were so busy measuring we didn’t read. Had someone in the sixties started blowing the bugle we wouldn’t be in this situation today. The information was always there if a person were to read carefully and completely, not taking paragraphs out of context. One prime example is the doctrine of cardinal equivalents in a proportion solution in the various manuals. In my travels as a seminar presenter I would usually ask the crowd if they had ever heard the term. A few hands would go up. This is a room of over 150 people! The next question was “did you ever apply them”?” Most did not.
The expert measuring crutch has long ago been ripped from us by the very technology we pay for and worship. To maintain the PROFESSION of Land Surveying we have to reinvent ourselves into solving land boundary problems as far as the law will allow. Boundary is all we have left to be a unique group in the land identification industry. The process of examining, licensing and regulating surveyors must be protected at all costs. To be this new kind of surveyor, you have to READ, STUDY, Attend Classes whether in person or on line. This is the true labor of the 21st century surveyor. I for one don’t want the 21st century surveyor to be the last.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Lied to Yogi, and that is the Simple Truth By Bob Dahn, NSPS Past President

When Yogi passed, my friend Alonzo posted some photos of, and quips about, Yogi. I had been thinking about Yogi, and I shared this story with him. My wife suggested I share it with everyone, or at least the “everyone” that I know.

 The first baseball number I wore was 8. I played one form or another of organized ball into my sixties. I did not always wear 8, but when I finally finished playing ball 2 or 3 years ago I was wearing 8. Clearly 8 is the perfect number, whenever Yogi slid or dove for a ball it was infinity.

I don't remember a great deal prior to 1960, for that matter I don't remember a great deal after 1960. I do remember a day in 1957 or 1958. Baseball was my first love, a love that has endured. My dad would bring us to a game or two a year. Sitting in the upper decks, or by the foul poles, it did not matter. Being at the Yankee Stadium was a gift. Writing this is like seeing that perfect field for the first time all over again. 

This particular day, my dad had gotten front row tickets directly behind home plate. Even though it meant we would have no chance to catch a ball, I was thrilled to be sitting so close to Yogi. At some point early in the game a pitch was fouled directly toward our seats. It slammed into the base of the wall, squeezed underneath and appeared at my feet. I picked it up quickly and put it in my glove. Convinced I would be forced to give it back, I tried to act like I hadn't seen a thing. 

The ball boy came over to retrieve the ball and after looking around without success went to the umpire to tell him that the ball was missing. The umpire and Yogi turned around and came over to have a look for themselves. Having no more luck than the ball boy, they looked at each other, puzzled. Then Yogi turned, looked at me and said "Hey kid did you see where that ball went?" Probably red with guilt I looked down and mumbled something like, “no sir”. I had lied to Yogi Berra, and that is the simple truth. 

The ball was kept in an honored location for several years, until one day the desire to catch, throw, and hit the “Yogi Ball” was overwhelming. I grabbed the ball and rushed off to use it in a pick up game. Without uttering a word to anyone about the ball, we began the game. Sure enough it got hit into the woods, probably by some kid wearing 7, never to be seen again. At the time, it seemed like the most foolish thing I could have done. Today, thinking about Yogi, the ball, and that day so long ago, maybe it should be the fate of every ball to be lost in the woods, or the hands of some awestruck kid sitting in the cheap seats. 

Yogi was a blessing both on and off the field. Reflecting on this special day, with my wonderful father, the stadium and the ball, I can imagine Yogi might have said, “the ball may have been lost, but it made real good time getting there”.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

There is always something to be thankful for!
Happy Thanksgiving 
from the National Society of Professional Surveyors and Staff