Lottery Post Journal

I think this is actually a good idea

Most libertarians will naturally hate this idea, but I think it's a good idea, and a very good use of resources.

As the story below describes, a town used Google Earth satellite imagery to find backyard pools to which the owner did not file the required permits before installing.

What a good use of publicly-available technology, which does not cross privacy boundaries, because it is only viewing the outside of houses, and which cuts the cost of public employees greatly.  

Keep in mind, township employees could just as easily travel each street of the town and peer into the back yards to see if pools were installed.  There is nothing remotely illegal or unethical about that.  They don't do it because it would take so long and be so expensive to do.

Permits are important because they help protect future buyers of the property and house against poor, uninspected construction.  It is especially important with pools, which are inherently dangerous.  Also, it is a slap in the face of every person who lawfully applies for permits.

So here's the story:

Google Earth Used To Find Unlicensed Pools

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A town on New York's Long Island is using Google Earth to find backyard pools that don't have the proper permits.

The town of Riverhead has used the satellite image service to find about 250 pools whose owners never filled out the required paperwork.

Violators were told to get the permits or face hefty fines. So far about $75,000 in fees has been collected.

Riverhead's chief building inspector Leroy Barnes Jr. said the unpermitted pools were a safety concern. He said that without the required inspections there was no way to know whether the pools' plumbing, electrical work and fencing met state and local regulations.

"Pool safety has always been my concern," Barnes said.

But some privacy advocates say the use of Google Earth to find scofflaw swimming pools reeks of Big Brother.

Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., said Google Earth was promoted as an aid to curious travelers but has become a tool for cash-hungry local governments.

"The technology is going so far ahead of what people think is possible, and there is too little discussion about community norms," she said.

A representative for Google said she did not know of any other community using Google Earth as it has been used in Riverhead. She did not respond to a question about whether Google has any concerns about how the town is using the service.



  • Yes I have to agree with you on this one. I often watch "Holmes on Homes" on HGTV where Mike Holmes corrects non-permitted *interior* work. Most of the time he's forced to wreck out completely due to fire or health hazard rather than repairing.

    Anyone who thinks permits for construction of *any kind* are not important, this show will most certainly change their minds.

    By konane, at 2:47 PM

  • Yes and we also need you to make your home "green compliant" by next year or we will condemn it.   Having a pool is overrated as much as boat ownership.

    It is hard to put in a pool without permits, it ain't like you can dig a hole and fill it with water. But I guess people do.

    By jarasan, at 4:34 PM

  • Lots and lots of people put pools in without permits, mainly because almost all pools are installed by independent excavators. ANYONE with a backhoe can install a pool. That's why inspections are important.

    I don't think it has anything to do with "green complicance", which is extremely intrusive due to the fact that it deals with issues inside the home. I would say it's a completely separate topic, having nothing in common with this story.

    By Todd, at 4:51 PM

  • Yes green compliance has nothing to do with it, until they designate your pool as a navigable body of water, and demand you drain it because you over chlorinated it and killed all the bacteria that was providing us with oxygen (wink wink nod nod).   I have a pool.   I keep that fence locked tight and with alarms, because of zoning and insurance I have to carry an extra $500,000 liability. On another note, my house was marked by "travelers" as a place where there is a pool, probably seen from Google, they used real paint on the front sidewalk, I have a sand blaster, no more markings.   

    Putting in a pool incorrectly is foolish, especially the drainage and plumbing. Mine is a sand base metal sides vinyl lined about 25000 gals. it is slighty "unlevel" to the deep end so if God forbid it gets overfilled the water drains away from the house! I maintain it myself and don't reccommend pools unless you have "staff" that can take care of the dang thing or live in an area where it is open all year long. As far as having backhoe and you got a pool........ if you want concrete decks, plumbing, electrical, the pool itself, you need pros, I've heard of those prefabbed fiberglass pools literally popping out of the ground, then you have the gunnite type.....super high maintenance with the chemicals and cracking etc... Thanks, you just convinced me to fill the thing in.

    By jarasan, at 6:10 PM

  • Having a permit to install a pool is a good idea. No problem with that. But once the pool is installed, isn't it a bit too late to inspect anything? And would the city inspect the construction of the pool even with a permit?

    The only time I needed a permit, the inspector did not show up until after all the work was done. What he "inspected", I don't have a clue.

    By GASMETERGUY, at 8:32 PM

  • I got goggle Earth it's pretty cool. We goggled our house and the picture must be a couple years old , my son's little red wagon is in the picture. Thats scary...that picture says a kid lives here.
    It also shows our boat our truck the mini van the taurus our garden...hmmmmm
    Pool safety, well I'm all for it, my question is when does it cross the line?
    When does uncle bammy decide we got to much stuff and it's not fair?
    In all honesty , I'll have to think on this some more.

    By sully16, at 3:06 AM

  • Ok ,I have thought some more. Yes very clever to catch pool installing cheats, children use the pools and their safety should not be compromised by a parent not getting a permit and then having it inspected by a professional.
    New question, lets say goggle earth is updated the images even faster, now you have a new view of someones property.
    Does this mean the repo guy can use it? Private investigators looking for cheating spouses? The IRS ? At what point do we say enough intrusion? Enough invasion of privacy? We can argue the symantics ( no sure if thats spelled right) about it being a picture from outer space. We have a privacy fence, what if I want to sunbathe nude?
    Not that I would, but it does raise alot of questions.
    I expect that when I'm in my backyard I have a reasonal amount of privacy.
    I suspect this could be a useful tool but, it could also be a harmful tool.
    Just think of the crazies who would use it to get payback or just want to ruin someones life for @@ITS AND GIGGLES.
    We got it because its a great learning tool and fun to use. Now it is something to think about.

    By sully16, at 7:23 PM

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