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Local Public Right of Ways to be Controlled by the Federal Government

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posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 12:46 AM
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I might lose a lot of people on this post; but, I am going to try real hard to make this understandable. By the way I have never posted in this section before. A little background. I have degrees in Political Science, History and a doctorate in law (and no I am not going to spell check). For over 20 years I have worked on all aspects of streets, construction, maintenance and management. I have been asked to write books on Government Accounting and Public Right of Ways. You don't need to believe me because I am going to provide links to what I discuss.

The streets are not owned by the cities and counties. You probably thought they were. Most streets are public easements. A developer builds a housing track and in order to get his permits he is required to build the streets to a certain quality and give the city an easement. An easement is the right to pass over a property, not ownership. The ownership stays with the property owner. If you live in a gated community, the easement is owned by the homeowners association usually.

Local control of these public right of ways is what allowed cities to cause roadways to be created without taxing everyone, instead the home buyer that a wanted a road paid for it. Same is true for utilities. Along with the "ownership" of the easement, the cities are required to keep them safe, to make repairs for safety and to assure the public can travel the easement. Cities can return easements to the property owners, we call this vacating and easement.

I probably lost half of the readers; but, keep reading that was just background. The Federal government passed a "National Broadband Plan". The purpose of the plan is to give universal broadband everywhere. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the leader on this. The FCC decided that broadband was not going quick enough. When broadband companies wish to install their equipment on light poles or other poles in the right of way, they have to pay a fee. Cities determine the fee. The FCC wants to regulate the rules and fees set by the cities.

Here is the deal. Legally the power to control something means you are responsible for it's maintenance. The Texas Municipal League (and I don't live or work in Texas) sent a letter to Vice President Biden because they were concerned about the loss of revenue. They headline in the letter said, "Contemplated FCC Action to take Local Public Property at Less than Fair Value Could Devastate Texas City Budgets". They didn't say the fed couldn't do it, they said they needed to be paid more.

The fed just said that they want to end local control over the local streets. I hope you understand the enormity of that. No more local control of the streets. The timing is perfect as taking away the control means taking responsibility for the maintenance. The reason Texas didn't just wanted more money is because it releases the cities from maintenance responsibility, if you limit what they can charge in fees that are used to maintain the streets you have to make the responsibility federal. Lots of goodies in this for struggling cities. They save millions that they would otherwise have to spend and fed will repair their roads.

If this goes through then the fed would have to pay your city for it's streets. You want to know how much money that means, look at your cities "Consolidated Annual Financial Report" (CAFR), all cities and counties have to have one. Most are on-line at your cities website. About ten years ago the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued a rule for local governments that required them to value their streets as an asset in the CAFR. That means your city already told the fed how much they have to be paid. They didn't know it when they did it.

If your city is in economic trouble, there is probably enough money to be paid that it will no longer be. In addition, by taking away the maintenance costs your city saves a lot, enough to fix pensions. Public Works is usually a city's third best funded organization (Police and Fire being first). If the fed takes over the streets it would give them the opportunity to cut costs by have nation wide (take too long to explain how; but, trust me it would be easy to do). They would also have to create a new organization to manage the streets. That means that millions of unemployed construction workers could go back to work. It might also mean the sidewalks got fixed too (most cities make the property owner do it).

This is going to be acted on in April and I thought people should know what is going on. You could be for it or against; but, you need to know about it and understand it. Most people involved in right of ways don't even know about this and the few that do don't understand the implications. It is a trade off, you give up local control of the roads in exchange for not going into bankruptcy and reducing your costs; but, you do give up local control.
edit on 20-3-2011 by AQuestion because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 12:59 AM
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reply to post by AQuestion
 


read your post .. wheres the links??



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:12 AM
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reply to post by darrman
 


www.bingham.com...

The link discusses the issue broadly. I could not find the letter they sent on February 24, 2011 to Biden, I have a copy of that on my desk. The fuller explanation is in the letter, it was written by Robert N. Cluck, Mayor of Arlington Texas. Copies were sent to the Texas Congressional Delegation and Mr. Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:22 AM
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One question

Would this just make it easier for the feds to set up the TSA like scanners............now since, in effect, the streets would now be federal property?

Would it give them an excuse to create a federal "police" to patrol the streets?

OK that was 2 questions.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:27 AM
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You seem to be implying that this is more or less a stealthy way for the federal Government to take over all public roads seeing as how virtually no one is aware of it.
It is like the frog slowly boiling in the pot of water and we are the frog.
Man tonight has had no good news.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:30 AM
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Originally posted by lastrebel
One question

Would this just make it easier for the feds to set up the TSA like scanners............now since, in effect, the streets would now be federal property?

Would it give them an excuse to create a federal "police" to patrol the streets?

OK that was 2 questions.


Feds already can already arrest or stop you anywhere they want. The U.S. Marshals are the only constitutionally created police force, they can tell your cops what to do already. Oh, and in case you didn't know, the Marshals protect the federal judges, which means the federal will usually find in their favor.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:32 AM
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Originally posted by ELahrairah
You seem to be implying that this is more or less a stealthy way for the federal Government to take over all public roads seeing as how virtually no one is aware of it.
It is like the frog slowly boiling in the pot of water and we are the frog.
Man tonight has had no good news.


I think I am saying that. I am not however saying it is a bad thing, I just want people to know what it means and that it is happening. Most public works officials don't even know about it. The technology people are the ones dealing with it because it involves broadband and tech people don't know a thing about public right of ways.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:32 AM
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I think I understand, sort of.

However, this was proposed over a year ago as the National Broadband Plan, which merely offered recomendations to congress on actions to take. I couldn't figure out where in the plan it said to mandate the levy on cable installs, but I'm familiar with the concept.

Also, I'm a little confused, first you say streets are owned by private entities but cities are responsible for them?

I can grasp the idea of private property and roadways associated with it...but individual streets that traverse the city and are maintained by the city...don't belong to the city? Clarify, please.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:34 AM
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reply to post by AQuestion
 





In addition, by taking away the maintenance costs your city saves a lot, enough to fix pensions.


No guarantee they would use the savings to fix pensions. If pensions fail, doesn't the federal government take over?




This is going to be acted on in April



Acted on by who?



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:36 AM
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reply to post by links234
 


If you own your home read your deed, it says that you own to the middle of the street. The cities DON'T own the property, they have a right to use if for public purposes, travel, utilities. The cities are required to keep their easement safe for the public good. It is written into the "street dedication" that is given to the city by the developer. I was also a title examiner.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:38 AM
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I wonder how this would affect trail permits?

I have one that has no expiration , but if the feds take over that right-of-way I wonder what will happen..?

This access is right along the city and county line, and so the city and county argue with each other for years whenever I submit anything, like a clearing permit.. So I doubt I'll ever get to build on the property anyway..

They don't even know their own rules for what to do, and if the feds take over I bet they will assume all kinds of authority, to be whatever they want..

That can't be a good thing..... This will only wind up hurting private property owners I bet..But I could be wrong..



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:40 AM
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reply to post by jam321
 


The FCC stated that they planned to issue a "Notice of Inquiry" in April of this year. The NOI usually makes tentative conclusions as to law. This means that the cities would begin posturing immediately in anticipation of a final decision. The valuation of your streets is likely what your city would begin attempting to adjust, I cannot imagine most accountants even knowing where to begin.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:42 AM
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One the surface it looks like an interesting idea. With easements, everybody has a right to them, ownership just means who pays for maintenance. So under federal jurisdiction the federal government pays and takes some pressure of the local governments. To do this, the local governments drop their maintenance crews and the federal governments starts a new organisation. There are some questions about the effectiveness and distribution of a national roadside maintenance body. Overall it looks like a positive move.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:42 AM
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Originally posted by alienreality
I wonder how this would affect trail permits?

I have one that has no expiration , but if the feds take over that right-of-way I wonder what will happen..?



Well you wouldn't have to deal with different jurisdiction, just one. Fed would probably have fewer restrictions than the localities, same as a trail permit on federal land. You can find out about those from any national forest.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:48 AM
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reply to post by kwakakev
 


Dear kwakakev,

Creating the national organization would not be that hard because of the existing maintenance infrastructure. Maintenance really does make the best sense to be regional. My post was probably boring enough; but, I will attempt to put everyone to sleep.

Currently, 35% of the cost of resurfacing or reconstruction of roads is design, bid and award. That cost can be cut to 5% (through a different type of contract that doesn't require plans or bidding each job separately). If your cities bid 50% recycled asphalt they could cut another 30%. Few cities have adopted recycled asphalt and many use rubberized asphalt that is almost twice the cost of "virgin" asphalt.

There are cost and efficiency benefits. But you need to understand what the change is that is being proposed.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:52 AM
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reply to post by AQuestion
 


Ahh, thanks for the info.

Maybe it would end up being a good thing afterall..

Something about the feds gaining more control of things like that make me nervous though


Just a thought..


What you have stated certainly sounds good though, but would it really work out that way?

Going by their current M.O. I wouldn't be inclined to believe it. I suppose we may find out one way or another .



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:55 AM
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This would make it easier for roadblocks, checkpoints and more or less a round up of people right?



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 01:59 AM
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reply to post by alienreality
 


I cannot say how it would really work out, I can only say what I believe would happen knowing the fed. The Federal Highway Administration has always been good to work with. There are so many problems in the industry, it is basically a monopoly in regards to many aspects of it. Three companies own about 75% of all the rock used to make asphalt concrete and they overcharge. The fed owns their mining permits and might be able to convince them to stop being so greedy.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 02:00 AM
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Originally posted by toolstarr
This would make it easier for roadblocks, checkpoints and more or less a round up of people right?


As far as that goes, it wouldn't change a thing. Fed can already do roadblocks and checkpoints for cause. The cities do them for drunk drivers (read revenue). They bust you for anything on a roadblock, even your insurance.



posted on Mar, 20 2011 @ 02:07 AM
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Originally posted by AQuestion
If you own your home read your deed, it says that you own to the middle of the street.


It does? Care to show us a example of that? Unless....



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