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Long Island, NY - Town Uses Google Earth Finds 250 Pools With Out Permit

Published on: August 1, 2010 06:03 PM
By: AP
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Long Island, NY - 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.

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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.


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Read Comments (17)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 01, 2010 at 06:37 PM Anonymous Says:

There are several towns on Long Island as well as Lakewood and Monsey that are using the Google technology to locate homes with illegal additions on the back that have not obtained the required building permits or that have violated the setback requirments of those permits. Needless to say, this problem is especially prevalent in heimeshe neighboroods with big families that just keep adding more bedrooms and to the back and above existing structures and don't want the cost and bother of getting a building permit and variance. In many cases there have been fines in tens of thousands of dollars and in rare instances, an order to demolish the illegal addition. Bottom line: Big brother is now watching everything you do so assume if you violate the zoning and building codes you will be caught and punished.

2

 Aug 01, 2010 at 06:39 PM bubby green Says:

Isin't this a breach in privacy laws?

3

 Aug 01, 2010 at 06:42 PM cbdds Says:

I believe that we are entitled to privacy iNSIDE our homes. Many famous people have found out that there is no such guarantee outdoors, even on private property.
If paying license fees and taxes helps keep overall fees lower, I am all for this enforcement.

4

 Aug 01, 2010 at 06:46 PM Lucky Says:

Today its backyard pools and tommorrow its expired vehicle registrations . Who knows where it will really end .

5

 Aug 01, 2010 at 06:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2
Isn't this a breach in privacy laws?

No. The courts have held this is perfectly legal since there is no expectation of privacy in a backyard. Its no differnet than a helicopter flying over your house and observing a crime. Until several years ago when marajuana was legalized in California, the police used Google to identify bigg growers of illegal marajuana and all those convictions were upheld.

6

 Aug 01, 2010 at 07:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Says:

There are several towns on Long Island as well as Lakewood and Monsey that are using the Google technology to locate homes with illegal additions on the back that have not obtained the required building permits or that have violated the setback requirments of those permits. Needless to say, this problem is especially prevalent in heimeshe neighboroods with big families that just keep adding more bedrooms and to the back and above existing structures and don't want the cost and bother of getting a building permit and variance. In many cases there have been fines in tens of thousands of dollars and in rare instances, an order to demolish the illegal addition. Bottom line: Big brother is now watching everything you do so assume if you violate the zoning and building codes you will be caught and punished.

This, of course, is not true. The commenter just wanted to try to make a negative comment about frum people.

Anyone who lives in Monsey knows that there are too many inspectors and self hating jews (yes, it is the MO and frei) who are to happy to report even suspected unpermitted work.

So this commenter made a comment trying to paint heimishe as permit dodgers when it is clear that it doesn't happen.

And, the houses of the MO in monsey are hardly smaller then the heimishe. It is more likely they are the ones who would do work without permits.

7

 Aug 01, 2010 at 07:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Guys, we are fried in this small earth, the government is setting up speed cameras on highways and now google earth, ok, we get the message and moshiach is gotta come....

8

 Aug 01, 2010 at 07:19 PM AuthenticSatmar Says:

In the usa there are no privacy laws except in health care records.

9

 Aug 01, 2010 at 07:25 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6

You are wrong. Google photos are routinely used in Orange and Rockland county townships and have formed the basis for enforcement actions by land use officials against both jews and gentiles. The illegal additions are a real problem simply because the orthodox jewish families are much larger and tend to add new space to their homes rather than moving. Its often the landlord, not necessarily the jewish families who are engaging in this activity so its not necessarily anti-semitism when they impose fines.

10

 Aug 01, 2010 at 07:33 PM ayin roeh Says:

Pools at least is common knowledge that its illegal. But when it comes to trampolines... I know that a building inspector in Monsey threatened to report one, citing that it was unsafe and must be insured. If you look, you can usually see those with Google Earth too.

11

 Aug 01, 2010 at 07:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Those of you who are complaining about getting caught for breaking the law seem to not believe in dina d'malchusa dina.

I'm tired of supposedly frum people thinking that they're exempt. The other week I started getting spam from a seemingly frum guy's company. When I called to complain and point out that it's illegal and he could get in trouble, he said he hoped he didn't, not that he would stop. Last week, I got illegal telemarketing calls regarding a frum furniture sale upstate. Not only were these illegal because I'm on the do-not-call list, but they also didn't release the line when I hung up, thereby endangering me and my family.

12

 Aug 01, 2010 at 08:22 PM Sherree Says:

Chutzpah! Look who is calling the kettle black? Don't blame MO for massering! Don't judge all people by what one person or somebody did. Shame on you, that is huge loshon horah. That is first and secondly don't blame the messenger when the person at fault is the one who broke the law in the first place.

13

 Aug 01, 2010 at 09:56 PM username Says:

"And, the houses of the MO in monsey are hardly smaller then the heimishe. It is more likely they are the ones who would do work without permits."

How do you figure that what you wrote is any less loshon hora than what you quoted?

14

 Aug 01, 2010 at 10:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Says:

Those of you who are complaining about getting caught for breaking the law seem to not believe in dina d'malchusa dina.

I'm tired of supposedly frum people thinking that they're exempt. The other week I started getting spam from a seemingly frum guy's company. When I called to complain and point out that it's illegal and he could get in trouble, he said he hoped he didn't, not that he would stop. Last week, I got illegal telemarketing calls regarding a frum furniture sale upstate. Not only were these illegal because I'm on the do-not-call list, but they also didn't release the line when I hung up, thereby endangering me and my family.

Isn't funny to you that the law exempts politicians and "companies that have prior business with you" ( banks got themselves a nice exemption - together with all financial companies so they can you more products )

When the govt will stop making laws that only to certain ppl and exempt other _ then I will know dina dmaclhisa dina - otherwise its dina for those who are poor and have no connections and its free for all if you shtub their pockets with gelt

15

 Aug 01, 2010 at 10:33 PM Not so simple Says:

To #5
this issue is not black and white. 

Case in point: Kyllo vs. United States. 

The controversy surrounded the use of a thermal-imaging device to scan a residence for heat emmisions.

Federal agent William Elliot suspected Danny Kyllo was growing marijuana in his home. Many people growing marijuana use high intensity heat generating lamps to facilitate its growth. Elliot parked his car across from Kyllo's home and aimed a thermal imager at the house to see if the heat emanating from Kyllo's home was consistent with readings that would be expected if these high intensity lamps were being used.

Elliot conducted the scan and took just a few minutes to find out that the garage roof and one wall of the house were hotter than the rest of the house as well as the houses of his neighbors.

Using this information,  Elliot got a search warrant to search Kyllo's home. The search revealed over 100 marijuana plants. 

 In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court found that to “explore the details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a 'search' and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.”

In writing the opinion for the court, Justice Scalia wrote: 

“The present case involves officers on a public street engaged in more than naked-eye surveillance of a home. We have previously reserved judgment as to how much technological enhancement of ordinary perception from such a vantage point, if any, is too much. While we upheld enhanced aerial photography of an industrial complex in Dow Chemical, we noted that we found 'it important that this is not an area immediately adjacent to a private home, where privacy expectations are most heightened.' …
“We have said that the Fourth Amendment draws 'a firm line at the entrance to the house' … That line, we think, must be not only firm but also bright—which requires clear specification of those methods of surveillance that require a warrant. While it is certainly possible to conclude from the videotape of the thermal imaging that occurred in this case that no 'significant' compromise of the home-owner's privacy has occurred, we must take the long view, from the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment forward …
“Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a 'search' and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.
“Since we hold the Thermovision imaging to have been an unlawful search, it will remain for the district court to determine whether, without the evidence it provided, the search warrant issued in this case was supported by probable cause—and if not, whether there is any other basis for supporting admission of the evidence that the search pursuant to the warrant produced.”
 
Is the swimmingpool case similar to the pot case? 

16

 Aug 02, 2010 at 09:26 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

Isn't funny to you that the law exempts politicians and "companies that have prior business with you" ( banks got themselves a nice exemption - together with all financial companies so they can you more products )

When the govt will stop making laws that only to certain ppl and exempt other _ then I will know dina dmaclhisa dina - otherwise its dina for those who are poor and have no connections and its free for all if you shtub their pockets with gelt

#14: Yes, political organizations are exempt from do-not-call, as are charities. If you've done business with a company in the last 18 months, they're exempt. It doesn't have to be a bank, though in my experience, it's mostly banks who take advantage of this exception. If there was one law for Jews and a different law for non-Jews, we would not be obligated in dina d'malchusa dina. But that's clearly not the case.

17

 Aug 02, 2010 at 08:28 PM Anonymous Says:

welcome to the future where parking tickets, speeding tickets, j walking tickets and expired registration tickets are given out the second they occur, via automated apps used by the government. look, to the government you are a walking revenue source. this is not about upholding the law or protecting our safety. it is about the government using its power any way it can to suck the last penny from its citizens. didnt curb your dog? fine. barbecue outside of a park's designated area? fine. bicycle out of the bicycle lane? another fine. on the positive side this can certainly ease our ailing economy as the government employs armies of ticket maids to scour google earth images for infringements, major and minor. the future is here and unless something is done to stop these government power grabs now, it wont be just Hashem looking down and judging you from shamayim.

18

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