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Austin, TX
reply to asdfdfdfdfdf

Re: Utility easement

said by asdfdfdfdfdf :

" But it's the age of entitlement. People really believe strongly that they are entitled to what they FEEL they are entitled to."

So when homeowners are upset by the state coercing them into allowing private entities access to their property you believe that this is indicative of their sense of entitlement?
If the state really did "coerce" them, they would have a case. But when they bought the house, the easement was right there on the survey, and they knew it (or should have known). No coercion involved. I can't imagine why you would even think that was the case.

Which is why I say people have these notions that they strongly believe and will fight for things they FEEL they are entitled to, whether or not this has any basis in reality. It's the only way I can explain statements like yours that fly in the face of the facts. For some reason you think that just because it FEELS like the right thing to you, it SHOULD be true.

I have two questions.

1. If a large property owner, such as a large corporate entity, bitches about the state placing conditions on the ownership of their property do you likewise condemn them for their feelings of "entitlement" or do you applaud them for defending what you believe is their inviolable right to do whatever they want to with their property?
To put it another way why is it freedom when powerful property interests protect their turf but it is whining when small property holders try to protect theirs?
Excuse me but what the hell does this have to do with the subject of this thread? There was no "state placing conditions on the ownership of property". It was IN THE DEED THEY SIGNED. And what is this giant red herring you are introducing of corporations vs. individuals owning property? That has nothing to do with this and I'm baffled why you bring it in.

2. Since these companies seem to believe they are not utilities and shouldn't be treated as utilities(for example, they believe they should be deregulated and should have no universal build out requirements imposed upon them), why should they be granted use of easements anyway? They were granted these easements in an age where they were viewed and treated as utilities. If they are no longer utilities maybe their legal status with respect to use of easements should change as well.
The easements are existing agreements. The easement does not say "if utilities are deregulated this easement is null and void". You can't just go back on what was agreed to in a deed and change it arbitrarily.

But when they bought the house, the easement was right there on the survey, and they knew it (or should have known). No coercion involved.
Come on, this is like arguing that taxes aren't coercive because we all know we have to pay taxes when we choose to get up in the morning and we could all choose to go to a deserted island in the south pacific if we didn't want to pay taxes. The fact is, if you want to live in anything approximating civilization in the modern world, you are going to be paying taxes to some state somewhere. There is no practical way to avoid them and therefore I feel it is legitimate to say that they are a coercive act.

Easements are par for the course with pretty much any land parcelled up and sold today. For most people, trying to buy land and avoid some type of easement would be like trying to avoid death or taxes. Nor are such easements negotiable in any meaningful sense of the word. I therefore think it is perfectly legitimate to state that this is a form of coercion.

I don't understand the idea that if something is signed that means that there can be no coercion or state force involved. To go back to taxes, you sign your tax return. Does this mean taxes aren't coercive? What if you refuse to sign? Then the state doesn't accept your return as legitimate and then the state comes after you for violating the law by not filing a legitimate tax return. The signature is a formality that doesn't address the underlying question of power and coercion.

There was no "state placing conditions on the ownership of property.
A deed is a legal instrument. It isn't as if property exists separate from the state and its legal measures. Utility easements don't exist because utilities went and negotiated agreements with each individual property owner and the property owner agreed to mutually satisfactory terms with the utility companies. They exist because a political determination was made that such easements facilitate infrastructure build and therefore the state requires that such things be regularly applied to most property as part of the process by which the state recognizes the legitimacy of property claims(such as a deed).

And what is this giant red herring you are introducing of corporations vs. individuals owning property? That has nothing to do with this and I'm baffled why you bring it in.
My point was simply that our outrage over state coercion is proportional to the extent to which that coercion affects the wealthy and powerful. Maybe we should feel similar outrage when coercion affects the small property holder as well. I think principle demands this.

The easements are existing agreements.
Of course they are existing agreements. Are you arguing that existing agreements can not be changed? Before modern utilities developed there were no utility easements. These utility easements later become legal conditions of ownership of property, so clearly the conditions of property ownership can be changed over time. As the circumstances surrounding utilities change, surely the state and society can effect a transformation of conditions of property ownership to reflect this? Certainly, at a minimum, easements on future property transfers could be changed to reflect changes in the status of telecommunications companies as utilities.
It might even be possible for the state to simply alter the status of classification as a utility without having to transform the easements themselves.

In the same way that utility easements developed to grant access to these companies, the access granted can be removed, by a similar process, as their status as utilities should disappear.

The easement does not say "if utilities are deregulated this easement is null and void".
If they are simply another deregulated provider of some service, that service is NOT viewed as important fundamental infrastructure and they no longer have universal service requirements should they even continue to be classified as utilities?

A hot cup of integrals please

Rego Park, NY

2 edits
since when was phone service not essential/a utility?

why don't you just go back to 400 Baud dialup? It's people like you who'll ultimately force us back into the Middle Ages. Don't like it? Dont buy it. Vote with your wallet. It's a capitalist society for a reason, bro.
Soon enough, AT&t will be forced to quit installing the "crappy" service, and will go for underground BPON.

"since when was phone service not essential/a utility?"

I'm not opposed to the idea of easements. Easements are a trade off. Everyone grants use of land so that everyone can benefit from universal build out of services. The benefits of infrastructure are spread around to everyone and everyone helps facilitate build out of that infrastructure. It's a fair trade.

In those instances where a company is actually providing a basic utility to everyone I don't have a problem with easements for those services. My point is if these companies want to start rolling out services that cherry pick and they don't want these new services viewed as utility services, because they want limited deployment in an unregulated environment, then why should these services be granted a utility's use of easements.

Surely there is a way to maintain utility easements without granting a company carte blanche simply because it provides phone service?

For example, these ugly boxes this article is talking about are for ATT U-verse. ATT especially wants to get into the video distribution business. ATT insists that it shouldn't be treated under the rules that cable is treated, for example universal deployment obligations. Why then should these U-verse boxes be granted space within utility easements?