Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Those Pesky Rights-of-Way

All right, already. Call me picky, picky. However, today marked the second time that our daily newspaper has printed the same incorrect map. On page 1. Story about Lincoln School's property problem. How do I know? Well, I happen to walk the area frequently, as you may have noted. Examine the map above. Picture yourself in your car, heading straight up Beach street from the back side of the Sharlot Hall Museum to get to Lincoln school.

Oh oh! What have we here? Look what's ahead of you. Even in your SUV, you aren't going to get up this little cliff! Pretty, though. Quite walkable -- there's a well worn neighborhood path. Yes, this is on some maps as part of Beach Street.

Now here's the map with my corrections. See the little stub of Beach? See the "new" street going past the other side of the United Methodist Church over to Gurley? MapQuest online has corrected its map to this configuration. On the other hand, my 2003 edition of the Yavapai/Coconino Counties Street & Road Atlas still shows the map just as the Courier printed it.

By the way, that isn't the only Prescott street found on some maps that in the real world goes over a cliff. Likely, the problem is that city rights-of-way do exist and the map makers mistake them for actual thoroughfares. No way. They should get out on the land more often!

As for the Lincoln School property problem -- I'd say that the city should quietly deed its "strip of land" over to the school and be done with it. After all, it did pass the whited-out portion of Beach Street to the adjacent land-owner, I'm told. And, after all, city had apparently lost the piece of land which the school has used for all these years. Isn't there a term for land ownership that passes as a result of long-term use? Oh, yes -- squatters' rights.


OmegaMom said...

The one I like is the one where the "through street" is a real cliff, some 15 feet straight it on Park? I can't remember, but I'm sure you know the one I mean.

Granny J said...

Oh, that one. It's a map-only extension of Anderson Hill Road where it meets (again) Beach Street. It's quite shear right there. I speculate: did Beach St. actually go up that hill & back down again, before being cut into the granite???

There's another possible explanation for the map maker's errors -- clasically, I was told, Rand McNally put imaginary features on maps as a way of protecting its copyright. If it (or its lawyers) found a map with these errors, it had a prima facie case.

SIL said...

Two points...
1. I refuse to refer to the folks discussed below as cartographers or geographers. They are neither.
2. Xeroxers, the people who spew out most of the street maps that are popularly available, commonly take vector data files, run them through some GIS software, and produce a 'map'. The vector data these people use as a base most often is produced by someone else...normally an underpaid technician working in some dimly lit closet somewhere.

Thus, the people who make our streetmaps never actually see the streets they map...

hermano said...

Another term almost applicable is 'adverse possession', although this usually is envoked when a dividing fence has been mislocated.


pb said...

They certainly should get out more! I have walked streets here in Elmira, only to find that the map shows road where there is backyard. Also, I grew up on Brown Lane in Auburn, Mass; another road that didn't exist even when I lived on it.

Google Maps takes that folly to new heights, and shows a road that no longer crosses our river...

Russell L. Carter said...

When I checked a year or so ago Shinery Lane was done this way. Directions to my house from Willow Creek Road given by the three largest online mappers directed people to go up Shinery Lane, which does not go through. It is a gas line right of way though. A quick check shows that google maps has been fixed.

sheoflittlebrain said...

hermano hit the nail on the head with adverse possession... As long as the property has been used for..I believe seven consecutive years.. in an open and continuous way, the person using the property can sue the owner for adverse possession.
I remember something about Macy's Department store in NY barricading the store owned alley one day a year. The other 364 it's used as a public thoroughfare. This brakes the chain of continuous use preventing NYC from claiming it as a street through adverse posession.

Also, when the developers of Prescott Valley toured the Midwest selling lots, they did so with a map of lots laid out flat as a pancake showing roads that were not built yet as well as some that will never be built, and selling lots in the bottom of arroyos that are unbuildable.
Of course, they were caught and tried and sentenced, but some of the people who picked a lot from that nice flat plat mep lost every cent they paid.

Granny J said...

Wow -- looks like I hit an exposed nerve!!

SIL -- actually, many of those county maps were produced by Wide World of Maps long before GIS systems were all the rage. If they worked from county records, those non-street streets actually do appear on the record -- I just checked!

Bro -- I'd say that one of those provisions certainly applies. BTW, if the county parcel map I just brought up is correct, much of the city's strip lies in the street and alongside the street.

pb -- there's nothing like a surprise, especially when it concerns real property!

Russell -- my first experience with on-line maps was the time I sent out-of-town visitors to MapQuest for a route to my house. The particular route took them over not one, but two cliffs.

brain -- re PV, you've just described how the west was won! My LH once remarked that the history of the United States was the history of real estate speculation on a major scale.

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