Hacking Trespass Law

This article talks about public land in the US that is completely surrounded by private land, which in some cases makes it inaccessible to the public. But there’s a hack:

Some hunters have long believed, however, that the publicly owned parcels on Elk Mountain can be legally reached using a practice called corner-crossing.

Corner-crossing can be visualized in terms of a checkerboard. Ever since the Westward Expansion, much of the Western United States has been divided into alternating squares of public and private land. Corner-crossers, like checker pieces, literally step from one public square to another in diagonal fashion, avoiding trespassing charges. The practice is neither legal nor illegal. Most states discourage it, but none ban it.

It’s an interesting ambiguity in the law: does checker trespass on white squares when it moves diagonally over black squares? But, of course, the legal battle isn’t really about that. It’s about the rights of property owners vs the rights of those who wish to walk on this otherwise-inaccessible public land.

This particular hack will be adjudicated in court. State court, I think, which means the answer might be different in different states. It’s not an example I discuss in my new book, but it’s similar to many I do discuss. It’s the act of adjudicating hacks that allows systems to evolve.

Posted on December 9, 2022 at 3:02 PM34 Comments


Clive Robinson December 9, 2022 7:54 PM

@ Bruce,

“But, of course, the legal battle isn’t really about that. It’s about the rights of property owners vs the rights of those who wish to walk on this otherwise-inaccessible public land.”

Actually it’s just an artifact of a deeper problem.

For various ludicrous reasons, mainly to do with out and out violence by what we now know are abnormal or to be more blunt “mental defectives” we have “property laws”.

Where they originated from is hard to say because it goes back to when secrecy was a major survival skill[1], long before writing and even cave painting in Europe.

But we do know from other cultures where resources are not as such scarce that “ownership” is not an inate concept, nor for that matter is “social hierarchies”[1] both of which are symptoms of the desire by some for “Status, Power and Control”. All of which can be sumed up by “The King Game” that is underpined by “might is right” which in more modern times we call “A protection racket”.

The US has unfortunately become not just polarised but extream in it’s notions of “Might is Right” which kind of boils down to,

“You are, what you can steal and hold onto against others by force”.

It is the “Great American Dream” expressed more honestly.

Is it right? Or is it wrong?

Well actually it is neither it just is. Right or wrong are just oppinions based on points of view, which are usually biased by which side you are on.

So the “self entitled” will see the idea of “ownership” as sacrosanct others not, and some will see it as evil incarnate.

When you look at it evolution favours groups over individuals so favors social usage of resources.

The problems occure when resources become scarce, or are deliberately made scarce.

The history of “Water Wars” is fairly well known, and easy to look up. Less well known is the start around three hundred years ago of the “Energy Wars” that is still playing out but “Water Wars” are coming back into fashion as they always do. They are already happening in the US via legislation, but in some ways have already started turning violent via social unrest.

The point is that as demand rises, finite resources become scarce. They then become usefull tools of those who’s abberant mental makeup appears as thugish or self entitled. Basically those who see “status, power, control” and the ability to wilfully inflict harm on others as their right beyond question. And self justify by claiming the are both legally and morally right. Which the majority realy don’t believe when they have been on the receiving end of the capricious acts of the self entitled.

[1] You can “own” something in either of two basic ways,

1.1 Control information about it.
1.2 Control physical access to it.

If you keep knowledge of a resource secret than those unaware of it can not take it away from you. That is secrecy is an evolutionary advantage that long predates spoken and written language.

However once knowledge of a resource is known others will if it is scarce try to take advantage of it. Trying to protect a resource physically unlike secrecy requires the use of physical resources which is at best inefficient.

Whilst secrecy can be easy for an individual, it is less so for a group. Using physical control whilst difficult for individuals is easier for groups, especially tightly grouped groups where sharing of labour is easier. This builds via herd/tribe behaviour into a castle mentality around a secure store. Which in turn gives rise to a hierarchical social structure.

Nick Levinson December 10, 2022 12:48 PM

Legally (I couldn’t pass the article’s paywall):

This may be complicated by whether the public land is Federal or not, since the former could give the Federal government the right to restrict the rights of State-regulated private landowners part of whose land is needed for access.

If the private land ownership in the affected parcels includes ownership by the same respective owners of the air-space rights above the land, then trespass may still be occurring even without touching the land, and if the private parcels are laid out checkerboard-style then I don’t know how a walker can avoid touching private land. Jumping would still enter a private owner’s air-space. (If that’s not the law and jumping legally works, then I guess a hovercraft could easily avoid trespassing. Imagine the controversy over that.)

Air-space rights are limited for aviation or where transferred and, at the furthest going up, they end where the atmosphere ends. France tried to contest Soviet spy satellites in outer space over France but lost in the U.N. against Soviet and American opposition.

I understand a landowner cannot use that ownership to forbid someone else from going between the latter’s private land and public land, such as a public road, at will.

I gather Scotland may have an exception that permits hiking across private land in some cases, probably along certain routes that an owner cannot refuse. Perhaps this also applies to cattle being herded and walked to a body of water or to market.

@Clive Robinson:

Land ownership probably began or escalated about 12,000-plus years ago with agriculture, as farmers considered what they were growing to be theirs from appearance and not available to just anyone who wished to pluck away, and the land to be closed to cattlers who couldn’t stop their cattle from trampling and ruining future crops and wouldn’t or couldn’t reroute them. This dispute continues in a few places, such as the Basque region, but mostly is settled. Gathering-hunting cannot support today’s world population, so we can easily predict the outcome of any political urging that we erase land ownership law.

Sumadelet December 10, 2022 2:32 PM

It is human nature to assume that the culture one grew up in is normal, and others are strange. Some people have a tendency to think that the way their culture does things is the only acceptable way.
For those not aware of another way of doing things with regards to access to privately-owned land, I suggest reading the Wikipedia article on ‘Freedom to roam’, especially the practice in the Nordic countries.

Beau December 10, 2022 5:52 PM

@ Nick Levinson,

I couldn’t pass the article’s paywall

But archive.org did: It’s Public Land. But the Public Can’t Reach It. (New York Times; Nov. 26, 2022)

I don’t know how a walker can avoid touching private land. Jumping would still enter a private owner’s air-space.

But, quite obviously, avoids touching private land. Jumping isn’t even needed; just step diagonally. The article does go into the points you mention regarding airspace and federal lands (including: in cases of a “landlocked” plot, it may not be trespassing at all to minimally cross private land to access it), and also mentions an interesting hack and counter-hack. Two private lots had “no trespassing” signs meeting at the corner, leaving no room to step between them. Hunters put a ladder above the intersection, with all legs on public land, to climb over the signs without disturbing them.

The other obvious method for access would be to use a helicopter, crossing private lands high enough to avoid trespassing: 300 feet according to US v. Causby. But there’s a good chance it would scare the would-be prey away, even if one could safely land on the (often rough) terrain.

Clive Robinson December 10, 2022 6:13 PM

@ ,

Re : Freedom to roam.

“I suggest reading the Wikipedia article on ‘Freedom to roam’, especially the practice in the Nordic countries.”

Back towards the end of the last century this realy kicked off in Sweden.

There used to be a joke or saying in Sweden that only nature made fences[1] as each man had an island. Which considering the number of lakes, rivers, ponds and streams was not far off of the mark.

The population density in Sweden is either low or high depending on how you measure the land area as a lot of Sweden is not “dry land”. So fences even twee/ornimental ones around flower beds or ones for live stock were rare and if you saw a real fence the odds on it was for your safety/security. The cultural stance was “walk with respect” that was it was OK to cross other peoples property, as long as you showed respect to the land and the privacy of those who lived there.

For three to six months a year Sweden is an idilic place to live it’s the changes from winter to summer and back that make it “damp”.

Because of that another culture invaded… Don’t get me wrong Germans are like most people nice enough, friendly etc, but… Like every other culture they have their quirks…

Germans started buying up Swedish property for “second” or “holiday” homes, and I can’t blaim them Sweden is realy a nice place to live (apart from the alcohol and coffee prices which were shocking 😉

A new series of new jokes started which was effectively “How do you know a German has moved in next door? Because there’s a fence to greet you.” or “What’s the first thing a German does in the morning? Put up a fence”

The truth is Germans regard fences as important at the cultural level much as many in the US regard a front lawn as important culturally. A good fence, is a “statment to the world” to many Germans as is a “well kept lawn” to many Americans.

The problem was that the fences irritated many Swedish people at their cultural level and it started the usual “Who do they think they are…” problems.

Cultural clashes are frequently quite petty but they can easily create a lot of bad blood.

I’ve not been to Sweden for a couple of decades due to ill health and not being able to fly any longer, so I don’t know how it all played out in the end (or if it’s still causing issues).

But even in Germany there were cultural differences you might not be aware of… That could catch you out, clocks in every room, neatly folded curtains, and doors closed not left ajar, showers not baths. Back at the turn of the century after reunification these were a cultural clash of the old versus the new Germans. Yes it looked slightly weird to non Germans but that was the way it was, I had a “new german” lady friend who had been born in East Germany, and as she noted they were a cause of friction between her and her mother, as I indicated from my point of view it was “Her gaff, her rules, your gaff, your rules, and at my home bare feet were fine”.

[1] There was another about putting in fence posts but not panels so you could find your way home. That is putting in place markers to alow for bad weather and being able to stay on the road etc.

Clive Robinson December 10, 2022 6:22 PM


My above labled “Freedom to roam.” was to,

@Sumadelet, @Nick Levinson, and any other interested persons about cultural quirks that can become major causes of contention without either side wanting it to.

Clive Robinson December 10, 2022 7:04 PM

@ Beau, ALL,

Re : The law is a flat earther.

“300 feet according to US v. Causby.”

But from what datum point…

The law in theory tries to be simple, but sometimes simple is mor complicated than complex.

Distance measurments are one of those things.

A distance can be described as,

“The shortest measurment between two points”

And is often treated as such. But in real life we don’t talk about “points” as they are “zero dimensional” markers and we live in a multidimensional world, of not just length, but breadth, depth and time.

So how to translate a point to the real world?

In the UK we have “permisable build” regulations where “official” planning consent is not required.

However one rule is “below nine feet” but no refrence is given for a “datum point”. On a “flat piece of level ground” this would not be much of an issue…

But most ground is neither flat or level, which is why almost always the first step in new construction is to “flatten off and level” often by cutting down into the soil a few inches or so. But… Whilst this might work for “small builds on plots” it often does not for larger builds crossing multiple plots, or where there is a geological feature such as a hill top/side river/stream/ditch.

It also does not work when a newbuild is an addition to an existing build. Think about the back of a building on a downwards slope. If you used the center markers of each build area they would be at different hights, thus the nine foot limit could be at the back of the property less than the 2meter clearance for door hights… Then think about “in fill builds” between two existing buildings as would happen with extrnsions to Victorian houdes and their out houses. It all gets messy messy messy and open to not just abuse but discrimination, thus work for the legal fraternity.

Worse these points are not just in the three physical dimensions, they are also in the fourth temporal dimension and very definately move with time…

Now “soundings off” distances or “aeronautical hights” are not “geological” but natural. You do not want to be sailing in twenty foot of water above the “sea-bed” when there are ten to twenty foot high coral reefs growing an inch a year nor do you want to be flying fifty feat above the ground when you hit a wood or forest that grows upto three foot a year.

So how do you legislate these?

Well we don’t realy know and as a result have lots of conflicting legislation that can keep lawyers in expensive employment almost indefinately.

Just recently the UK left the EU in something called “Brexit” as a result the UK had another “Grand Charter” supposadly to sort out such issues in existing English legislation that had been superseded by EU directives and the like[1]. It would have been an ideal opportunity to sort out all such measurment issues. But…

Put a bunch of parochial backwards facing politicians in a room with a bunch of lawyers with an eye to future income…

And you can guess what the result was, and I don’t think the word “clarity” crossed any of their lips judging by what did not happen.

[1] Technically we nolonger need a “Time Lord” but hey once you’ve got one why give him up…

lurker December 10, 2022 10:09 PM

The app in question OnX appears to be for the US of A only, proprietary (non-open source), so the rest of us 95% of the world might think this story is just advertorial.

Nick Levinson December 10, 2022 10:59 PM

@Beau, @Clive Robinson, & @lurker:


I should have thought of the Wayback Machine. Thanks.

I don’t see how corner-crossing is lawful unless the law requires private landowners to allow access to public lands, so that minimal corner-crossing is then lawful, but in that case a ladder isn’t needed, as you can step with feet, as long as it’s reasonably minimal. Without that exception, the ladder being placed by a person would be part of a trespass. Otherwise, one could argue that walking on land without permission is not a trespass if one was wearing shoes, since shoes can’t trespass. Also, a murderer who wears a glove at the gun’s trigger would be immune to law enforcement. But that would be absurd and a judge wouldn’t even bother to laugh.

I’m not sure, if access is required, that it has to be by the most direct route. It might be acceptable for the possibly-blocking landowner to require using a less intrusive route, by some definition.

Jury verdicts don’t establish law, although neither do lawyers’ statements. Jury nullification occurs; so does the awarding by a jury of nominal damages, like $2. A claim of disturbing molecules of air above one’s land, with no other consequence, would be lucky to get $2.

When people sue, the amount they seek is often far beyond normal reason, because in many cases a claim for relief in that amount has to be made early or it is waived. Another way of saying it is that a lawyer discovered the zero key on the keyboard.

Whether the public land is Federal, State, local, tribal by treaty, or tribal by other than treaty likely makes a difference to these issues. (I think territorial and District of Columbia public land would be Federal.)

An anecdote, such as the one about a custom-made ladder, is not good proof of a legal point, if the anecdote’s content was not tested in court and the law is otherwise, at best, ambivalent.

I take it the article’s author is not a lawyer. There’s a lot of legal imprecision that nonlawyers would miss.

Helicoptering combined with subsequent hiking should solve the problem of scaring prey and not landing but climbing down a rope or descending in a bucket should be okay with rough terrain, if the hunters can manage it.

I didn’t determine how high landowners’ airspace rights go. I take it the legal research could be complicated. Some recent writers in lay media suggest it varies by local circumstances. Three hundred feet clearly doesn’t apply to land with a skyscraper taller than that.

@Clive Robinson:

Cultural differences matter; I agree. They have sometimes led all the way into war. Differences have also sometimes been created in order to create or reinforce a national identity and gain independence.

I once solved a Microsoft Access database design problem by using commands newly added by Microsoft, so newly added that they didn’t (yet) appear in the regular help file. Instead, they were in Access’ new discussion of Unicode. It was mainly because I’m interested in multiculturalism that I, without much need, took time out to read the Unicode discussion and discovered these commands (leftB and rightB and now I forgot if there was midB (case uncertain)). Two people had been trying to make the db work for, I think, a month. I did it in 2 nights, annoying one of them and probably embarrassing the other.

If you need science, don’t ask the judiciary or the legislature for it. They’ll do what they can to answer you if it’s important enough in their eyes, but they’re not scientists and they won’t answer very accurately or precisely.

In international law and U.S. law (and I don’t know of any nation that is otherwise): Politics produces, among other things, law. Law is higher than science (nations with more respect for science do not place science above law but allow more room for science within law). Natural law is higher than domestic (national and subnational) law. Natural law includes physical natural law. Physical natural law includes mathematics and not just mathematics. Almost without exception, natural law cannot be legislated by humans but is discovered, such as by Newton and then Einstein and by millions of minor players. Minor players include many nonscientists, such as judges. If someone purporting to discover an item of physical natural law is wrong, too bad for those adversely affected.


Not likely. One would hardly write an advertorial for a product that would be useless to readers of the advertorial. And being proprietary wouldn’t matter for that issue. I guess OnX’s data is expensive to compile and update, which makes giving the app away, a common point of open source, probably a nonstarter.

ResearcherZero December 11, 2022 3:23 AM

Legal ambiguity is how much of surveillance works. Some of it is buried in the fine print of SDKs, other parts in telecommunication acts.

“Laws seeking to regulate online content should be grounded in human rights principles and ensure transparency and democratic oversight.”

To shore up internet freedom, governments should reform domestic surveillance practices so that they adhere to the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance and protect robust encryption. Governments should enact strong data privacy laws that comprehensively safeguard people’s information while preventing greater internet fragmentation and disproportionate restrictions on cross-border data flows.

“When a person has a contract with a mobile operator then the SIM is tied to that contract and so to the person. …the Google Play store requires login using a Google account, which links the handset to that account since Google collect device identifiers such as the hardware serial number and IMEI along with the account details.”

“Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme and Google all collect long-lived device identifiers, e.g. the hardware serial number, as well as user-resettable identifiers, such as advertising IDs.”

“…a long-lived device identifier is sent alongside the resettable identifier on these handsets. This means that when a user resets an identifier the new identifier value can be trivially re-linked back to the same device.”

Android open-source model facilitates harmful behaviours and backdoors to sensitive data without user consent, while uncovering potential relationships between manufacturers, network operators and third-parties.

76% of them (of the 550 apps studied) collect and transmit PII insecurely, while 34% of these send PII to third parties

ResearcherZero December 11, 2022 3:40 AM

There was a previous case before Robodebt of fraud committed by staff within Centerlink, who placed money into accounts using individual’s names who were later sent a debt. Only in that case they used different bank accounts that did not belong to the individuals targeted by debt recovery. They were caught in that instance as well.

That it happened again, this time on a much larger scale, and implemented by automation, clearly demonstrates no lessons were learned. Any safe guards were also inadequate, and strangely it involved some of the very same people in the implementation.

In the last Australian parliamentary session…

“60% of legislation with human rights concerns was made into law with no review completed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights”

The Australian parliament must reform public and private sector whistleblowing law and establish a whistleblower protection authority, according to this report by Griffith University, the Human Rights Law Centre and Transparency International Australia.

Privacy is a fundamental human right, and is central to the maintenance of democratic societies. It is essential to human dignity and it reinforces other rights, such as freedom of expression and information, and freedom of association, and is recognised under international human rights law.

These principles can provide civil society groups, industry, States, and others with a framework to evaluate whether current or proposed surveillance laws and practices are consistent with human rights.

These principles are the outcome of a global consultation with civil society groups, industry, and international experts in Communications Surveillance law, policy, and technology.

Clive Robinson December 11, 2022 5:00 AM

@ Nick Levinson, Beau, lurker,

Re : It’s all in the sway.

“I don’t see how corner-crossing is lawful unless the law requires private landowners…”

I can’t say for the USA but in England there is a whole raft of legislation, regulation and court judgements that cover what you might call “edge effects” and often falls under “nuisance” legislation.

They arise from fruit, foliage, water run off, light potential fire spill and other risk and since GMO wind as well.

In essence it’s about good neighbourlyness, and it kind of boils down to the idea that your claim of ownership above your land diminishes to zero or a minimal fixed hight (4ft) at the edge of the property and rises at about 45degrees. So also does your neighbors rights.

Lets say you plant an apple tree that is young and about three feet tall three feet inside your property boundry.

Everybody felt safe to be out in society on their own is assumed to knows trees grow. By how much and in what way they are also expected to know if they have one on the property so they do not deliberately or otherwise create a nuisance (came about from a leylandii dispute and sadly has had negitive effects on copiced tree boundaries).

Now an apple tree will grow in many cases to thirty foot in diameter and upto fourty five foot in hight. What should be known but is mostly not is how far and wide the roots of trees grow (a rough guide is mirror image of unrestrained/cut canopy for deciduous more for ever greens a good book on bonsai explains it in more depth).

So planting an apple tree within say 15ft of a boundry will make it a nuisance at some future point in time unless precautions are taken.

But apple trees also blosom in spring atracting bees, and their fruit attracts wasps in autumn. They also drop fruit and leaves all of which “create nuisance” for a neighbour and importantly “an atractive nuisance” in various ways for children, pets, and other livestock. Oh and they can also attract lightning and other pests (including non native Brazilian Parakeets where I live).

But there is the issue of sway… If I cut the tree to the boarder, it crosses it when the wind blows so that has to be taken into account as well.

Then there is the “crop” problem, apples are edible and grown as crops therefore have value to the owner of the tree… What of the fruit that grows over or sawys into an adjacent property? Who does it belong to? Do they have the right to sell? Who has the right to pick/harvest? Does that alow access to in effect tresspass? What about disposal of the leaves and fruit fall? Can you just shovel it back across the boundry?

Likewise “cutting back” any “tree surgeon” will tell you all pruning has to be balanced not just for the health of the tree but safety as well. When they say “balanced” they don’t always mean symmetrically you have to take tree growth into account as well as near adjacent trees do not grow symmetrically. There is also the “low growth” issue from irregular or hard pruning.

In short planting a tree requires a life time of commitment not just from you but your successors as well (the oldest trees in UK are over a thousand years old and have trunk diameters of thirty five feet). Which is why some are also legaly protected under “Tree Presevation Orders” which some “local councils” such as the London Borough of Merton use to force revenue and fines out of tree owners. Which means a tree that over hangs an adjacent property forces there to be two or more owners…

So a legal night mare. To reduce the time on courts the semi informal defence of not in the 45degree space came about. That is you don’t own it so don’t have rights on it when it comes to non fixed structures (that need planning consent or are historical foundationed).

So if you don’t own it and your neighbour does not own it,

“Who does own it?”

It’s a question that is at best murky, in theory “The Crown” owns all the land in the UK which means the Government. Only it does not thanks to Magna Carta, the crown has to pay compensation for various acts to landowners (the then Barons).

There is in the UK the notion of “common land” set asside so that thr landless (then the majority) had places to forage for food and fallen firewood and graze animals. Back then the bulk of land was “common land” which is why “bridal paths, foot paths and common access” have a historic protected status above landowners in England (but not scotland).

Thus under English law that 45degree space would probably technically fall under “common ground” legislation and regulation if “push came to shove”.

As much of that legislation is quite historic, it may well tie American Courts as well if the case is presented in the right way.

So a stairway or ladder in common land rising to a free standing gantry or walkway in the 45 degree space might not be tresspassing at all, but might if “fixed” require planning consent of some form…

Oh and there is ancient “bridge” rights for common access over privately held rivers etc as well so even planning consent might not be required except for safety requirments (like those applying to scafolding).

JonKnowsNothing December 11, 2022 5:10 AM

@ ResearcherZero

re: There was a previous case before Robodebt of fraud committed by staff within Centerlink, who placed money into accounts using individual’s names who were later sent a debt. Only in that case they used different bank accounts …

iirc(badly) The current dust up over the Robodebt scandal and Inquiry was reported to be about the method of Income Averaging used by the department. The formula used was nearly guaranteed to create an “over payment of services” and the claw back demands.

This type of income averaging is used in the USA and UK and likely in other countries too. The issue remains low vis because the people targeted are not on The Public Radar and the different departments can get away with stating it’s a one-off error. In some locales the services are linked to a debit card and it’s easy enough for them to stop replenishing the card, while the person has to go through an enormous amount of effort to prove that they didn’t do anything incorrect.

For those not having had to deal with this sort of thing before, although a lot of folks who used to work at Twit, HP, Apple etc will be finding out, it’s a minefield of gotchas. Where you live (State County City) has a lot to do with what sort of benefits you may receive.

An example of ?intentionally? bad software input:

  • Question 1: Do you have a prepaid burial plan: The only answer accepted is Y
  • Question 2: How much is the prepaid burial plan worth: The only answer accepted is greater than $zero.

In the above case, if you do not have a prepaid burial plan, you cannot proceed with the application. If you submit a hard copy application with N and $0, a clerk will call you for the above answers because the system will not accept N for the first question or $0.00 for the second. Once the first question has a Y as a response it cannot be changed. There is no undo, no correction, no fix. (1)

The reason this is important for benefits is that a prepaid burial plan counts AGAINST the person applying for benefits. It’s counts as an Asset and is added to any offsets of benefits you might get. Since nearly all Fed State City benefits have Means Testing Thresholds-Ceilings this added Asset can throw you over the upper limit.

If you made lots of money last year and not so much recently the average income is high. Adding in any assets like prepaid burial will make it higher. The US Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for 1 person 2022 is $13,590/year. (2) Adding in a prepaid burial plan plus any income you may get from other sources can negate any possible assistance.


1) This was RL application in The Great State of Texas resulting in a denial of benefits.

2) This sort of income calculation maybe modified by different agencies setting Means Ranges up to 400% of FPL.

Clive Robinson December 11, 2022 8:15 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, SpaceLifeForm,

Try 2 –space out the “A” word.

Re : Road Rashed.

You might have noticed I had to do a six parter the other day… Could not work out what the naughty word was but it might have been “a-p-p e~a~s e…m…e n_t”[1]. Or just another weired flow rate stricture.

So my guess is you somehow trigered the naught word filter, that then caused you to re-send which pushed you over some excess flow rate trigger.

So a little experiment for “the A word” above, and potential content length below,

So anyway on the subject of Road-Rash I prefere Road-Kill. As atleast you get something you can safely pick up and eat from the road side with road-kill[2]. Rather than a slick skiding road hazard creamed into the tarmac of Road-Rash[3] as a sad reminding reminent of a furry-thing-gone-bye and as told to a little one now ascended to “Kitty-Heaven” or equivalent.

[1] Innocent as it might appear the “A word” might well be considered as one of those “gateway words”. That in this case potentially leads to what Godwin’s law warns of.

[2] At various times of year you can find “stiff as a board” pheasant, rabbits, deer and similar “game for the pot” in the English Country side. Most people would not eat it because they think it would be rotten… Well the fact it’s stiff tells you it’s only been dead a few hours at most, and the fact it’s still at the roadside tells you another –usually nocternal– opportunist such as a fox has not yet been out of their burrow and found it. But further consider, on the, edibility front, most “game” because it lacks body fat is “hung” to actually start decomposing so the cooked flesh is not too dried out… So I “slow cook” game with either belly of pork or belly of lamb as I’m to lazy these days to make lardons and sew them into the game… The long slow cook gets rid of most potential pathogens, and the few there might have been that might produce toxins –botulinus– would not have had the conditions or time to develop them.

[3] It turns out that “Road-Rash” has more than one meaning… To me and many of “us olduns” it means some poor creature like someones pet cat squashed repeatedly into the tarmac by vehicle wheels untill it’s little more than a stain with two ears poping up. To the now “creaking more than a pensioner” generation that indulged in “Street Sports” of various types and got broken bones by the dozen, and half limb length “grazes to the bone” by the hundred, “Road-Rash” is those healing grazes and other “wet-wounds” aquired on the path to well… A nakerd old body at forty or less.

Clive Robinson December 11, 2022 8:18 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, SpaceLifeForm,

Try 2 got it through, so looks like the “A word” was indeed a “gateway word”.

Nick Levinson December 11, 2022 1:08 PM

Super-slender / super-slim / pencil buildings, noted for their height and narrowness, usually new and residential, sway in a substantial wind, which wind is common. Buildings not so narrow also sway, but the narrow ones are probably narrow because adjacent land was not available for a wider building, and not for a setback or similar ground space. Often, therefore, when the building sways, it is over adjacent property, often private property. Higher floors overhang farther, albeit at greater heights.

But probably that’s not a trespass. I assume law already protects the owners of those buildings, some of which likely are condos or coops, thus usually having multiple owners per building. They may have acquired adjacent properties’ airspace rights, but maybe not.

JonKnowsNothing December 11, 2022 1:29 PM

@Clive, A11


re: rights of property owners vs the rights of those who wish to walk on this otherwise-inaccessible public land

A) Public Lands with public “ea s e m ent” or right of way blocked by owners of adjacent private properties

In California, A11 beaches are Public Access. The public has a right of way to any beach via designated “ea se men t s” or right of ways. Not every adjacent landowner is happy about sharing “their beach” with the public.

It’s not “their beach” they do not own it, they own a section of land adjacent to the beach. In some cases building permits require these plots to permit public passage to the beach and allow people to pass in along the shoreline frontage.

Common use pathways also create an “e ase me *nt”. Pathways used to access beaches may have been in use for a long time, predating any other legal definitions.

JonKnowsNothing December 11, 2022 1:35 PM

@Clive, A11


2 example locales for on going litigation:

Malibu Beach: A large number of mega-rich have mega-mansions fronting the beach. Some of them refuse to allow the public to pass along the shore line in front of their mega-beach house. They put up gates, fencing and armed patrols. On a regular basis, the gates, fences are torn down and the armed patrol dismissed. Unfortunately the City doesn’t like to antagonize the mega-rich, as they get a lot of tax revenues from the mega-beach homes. So there is a slow response to the illegal fence off and a constant litigation over “new violations” for access.

Halfmoon Bay: A small beach about 20 minutes south of HMB has been local favorite for years. It is reached by a steep path down a cliff side. This path is the only way to reach the beach. Because it is little know, the locals go there often. A house was built along the pathway and a public “e a+se m ent”-right of way defined. Previous owners of the house, had no issues with the people going along the property line down to the small beach.

A new owner decided he did not want to allow the public to access “his beach” and installed a locked gate at the entry point. It went through many courts and each time the owner was found to be in violation of public access. Each time the gate was opened, he would lock it again and placed armed guards at times to prevent people from using the path. Although he was found to be in violation, he continued for many years to block access. There were negotiations or rather instructions that he open the gate permanently. Sometime he does and many times he doesn’t.

B) Land locked parcels

If you scan the Real Estate Listings, you will find a large number of “land locked” parcels. These parcels have no legal access path. They have no legal “ea s+e me *nts”. In some cases an “e-a-s-ement” maybe purchased as a side deal but such deals are not included in the same of the land.

Some parcels come with airspace restrictions too. You cannot get there by land or by air.

Pacific Northwest: A large parcel was on offer, completely land locked on all sides. The description indicated no “e 1a1 se 1ment 1s” could be negotiated. The kicker was No Air Space access either. So you couldn’t get there by plane or helicopter. Clearly the neighbors found having all that landlocked parcel attractive and wanted to keep it that way.

Central California Coastal Range: A land locked parcel was surrounded by a single larger ranch property. Like a doughnut hole inside the larger property. The land might be reached by a litigated defined “e-as -eme -nt” but the larger property owner got to define the “e a s~e~me~nt” path. It was not a straight line, nor did it follow the existing ranch road. The “~ea~ s ~ e + m e nt” offered was the longest road possible with the attendant pricing and cost to build out the road.

So the big ranch got to keep the doughnut hole and graze their cattle on it for no charge.

JonKnowsNothing December 11, 2022 1:38 PM

@Clive @ALL

Well well looks like “~ea~ s ~ e + m e nt” “a-p-p e~a~s e…m…e n_t” or similar spellings have RR Indicators attached to them

lurker December 11, 2022 4:02 PM

@JonKnowsNothing, Clive, All

water access
About the middle of last century the young nation of NZ decided citizens had right of access to rivers or the sea. Any subdivision of lots facing the sea or rivers more than 5 metres wide had to vest in the Crown a “King’s Chain”. ie. a strip of land 22 yards wide between the subdivided lot and the water, and there is public right of way over this strip. How you actually get to it can sometimes be another story.

Of course there are plenty of grandfathered plots which retain their original boundary at the centreline of the river, or at Mean High Water Spring.

lurker December 11, 2022 4:21 PM

@JonKnowsNothing, Clive, All

land locked
In NZ any plot of land on which a house is built, must have legal road access. With this in mind the original surveyors 150 and more years ago laid out sufficient roads on their plans. Some of these were clearly impractical, up the side if near vertical slopes &c, and some were never used because nobody came to live there. So we now have “paper roads” on which the public has legal access, but where adjacent farmers may be grazing and/or have fenced it into their own paddocks. There was a fellow last century who used to spend a lot of his spare time wandering paper roads with wirecutters.

However if the road was never formed, graded or gravelled, and you can prove continuous occupation of more than sixty years, you have a claim to the title. This has caused bother to some local councils in dealing with the progress of society.

Nick Levinson December 11, 2022 4:41 PM


New law can amend old law. Old law does not prevent subsequent amendment.

In prehistory, land ownership may have been valid only during the owner’s presence. Then, probably every convenient spot of land was walked on by nonowners. Since then, ownership rights have become legally more robust, such as more defined, not requiring an owner’s presence, and ownership not being limited to natural persons (humans). So, it’s unlikely that most ancient use blocks new contrary use. Law preserves some ancient rights (maybe through some limits on landowners’ modern rights), but not all ancient rights.

lurker December 11, 2022 4:44 PM

@JonKnowsNothing, Clive, All

landlocked water
Without an exhaustive search of the LINZ data I don’t believe we in NZ have anything like the problem which is the subject of this thread. We do have the inverse, a number of enclaves of privately owned land where National Parks have grown to surround them, but access is never a peoblem.

Then there are the grandfathered riparian rights mentioned above, which have been confused with later public access to parts of the bed of the same river.


Ted December 11, 2022 7:08 PM

With 27,120 land-locked corners to chose from, it’s a bummer the four Missouri hunters chose public land corners that met between Fred Eshelman’s property.

I believe the Iron Bar Holdings LLC v. Cape et al (2:22-cv-00067) trial is supposed to happen next summer.

OnX has a nice report that outlines other attempts at resolving this gnarly dilemma. Some include allowing land-owners to swap acreage, sales of private land to a land management agency, tax credits for access, or even just asking the landowner for permission.

I’ll be really curious to hear how the court case is decided, especially if it has effects for the larger community.

MarkH December 11, 2022 8:09 PM

For the convenience of commenters, just copy and paste:



I doubt that any very tall building sways beyond property boundaries, or if it did, it’s not coming back!

Required setbacks for tall buildings usually are considerable, and the maximum magnitude of expected wind sway is not much more than one meter.

I believe it’s become standard to install mechanical systems to damp wind sway, which may reduce the maximum deflections … if they work right.

But tall buildings pose a distinct problem of “sunlight rights” which some zoning codes attempt to address. There’s likely to be considerable development of law in this matter.

Nick Levinson December 11, 2022 8:45 PM


Super-slim buildings probably are built to the full dimension of their narrow land along at least one dimension, and thus differ from other skyscrapers, so, yes, they will sway past a boundary. Their structural elements are well-built not to fall or get damaged by wind, but not to prevent sway altogether. (They have a different but related problem, which is that nonstructural parts make noises, often loud, often 24×7, especially on the windiest days, and some tenants move out remarkably soon. That noise problem has sometimes been solved.)

As to a building blown by wind so it could go down and crash, see Wikipedia and sources it cites (Wikipedia is not itself reliable but sources are).

A related problem occurs where building have party walls: the buildings have walls that may be close enough to touch for nearly the full surfaces of both walls. If those buildings are tall enough, they, too, will sway, and thus not only enter each other’s airspaces but also rub and wear into the party walls. I’ve not heard of a party wall breaking because of this, but it might be something architects think about.

Subways and other underground causes of vibration could also cause a building to lean into adjacent territory.

Possibly, law allows all these without a right to sue for trespass. Perhaps suit is possible but in both directions and so no one wants to start. Perhaps they can’t sue a causative agent, especially a public agency. I don’t know if they could sue a mine owner for small vibrations.

I don’t think sunlight rights involve trespass.

I assume your opening comment for “convenience” is humorous. I had used the first of those words and my post did not appear; I rephrased a bit and otherwise preserved and it appeared.

MarkH December 11, 2022 10:28 PM


Not humor, they’re allographic spellings, and as we can see passed successfully in my comment. Perhaps they would do so again. I’ll test:


Clive Robinson December 12, 2022 5:52 AM

@ MarkH, Nick Levinson, ALL

Re : Plastic limits, death and destruction.

“I doubt that any very tall building sways beyond property boundaries, or if it did, it’s not coming back!”

In materials physics it is assumed that all solid materials have “plastic limits”. That is you can bend them all some small amount and they will return to their original dimensions without harm.

It’s well known that tall buildings sway beyond a foot and a half and sufficient have made people queasy if not vomit their guts up due to motion sickness.

When making large sided building and similar structures you have to take into account not just “sail area” that is the force of the wind comming at the side of a building you also have to consider the aspect ratio of it or it’s members (in radio masts, pylons etc). Because unfortunately it becomes a whole lot more complicated when you also have to calculate the alternating suck effect of the various vortex issues. Whilst the force vector calculations are relatively simple but tedious calculating the actual forces is not at all simple as they have an oscillatory component and all objects have resonant frequencies and you get resonance “lock in”[1] effects where like a gong or cymbal the energy builds linearly with time. The frequency of “Vortex shedding” is related to the dimensionless Strouhal number for those that want to dig a little deeper, the frequency of “self resonance” is related to the physical dimensions such as length and the ability of the material to absorb the energy (damping) and transmit it away by conduction, radiation and even if things go that far convection.

Called “Flexural Vibration” –for those who want to look it up– it can “work harden” materials reducing the limits of movment with time thus materials go beyond their reducing plastic limits develop microfractures and fail catastrophicaly and in the first cases of realised “metal fatigue” cause aircraft to break up mid flight and a Penta-leg oil rigg like the Alexander Kielland[2] to loose a leg and turn turtle. Or as most here probably remember or have heard of with stuxnet malware causing hundreds of very tall very slime pipe like centrifuges to fly appart catastrophically due to being brought into self resonance the wrong way.

In general the only solution is to use the processes of “radiation transport” and friction to convert the resonant energy safely to heat in the likes of an “oil dash pot” dampener,


Simply conducting the energy away only “moves the problem” to the likes of the foundations, which is undesirable for many reasons, not just compaction and liquifaxtion but conduction to other structures where as with pendulums on a beam they can all fall in lockstep resonance…

In engines etc where “spin up” may take them through resonance, an “acceleration profile” is used or some form of transient high load.

An example of this is,

“Never start a DC Motor off-load”

Otherwise it will “run-away” potentially destructively (something late Victorian Scientists and Engineers had to solve).

[1] For the interested, the Lock-in effect happens when the “Vortex Shedding Frequency”(VSF) is approaching half of the natural frequency of a slim structure especially like those of “pipe chimney” or “radio masts”. As the external flow velocity of the wind increases, cross flow vibration starts to occur –like blowing across a reed in a woodwind instrument– and the process of “loose locked oscillation” brings the VFS into the natural frequency of the structure. This causes an indefinately increasing vibration energy response due to resonance that is only limited by the addition of a “load” that removes the energy in structural engineering such a load is generally considered an inefficiency and is thus known as “dampening” (look up Q-Factor for resonators to calculate at what point the amplitude energy in a resonator becomes limited by the load of dampening). One of the obvious concerning results of the frequency lock-in is the matching between vortex shedding frequency and the natural resonant frequency of a free structure is the vibrational energy causes mechanical flexure. Which in turn can cause fatigue damage to the structure that increases with time as the materials work harden. Thus, it is important to determine the critical allowable dimensional span length under various air flow conditions in the structure design. Which becomes considerably more complex if sub-harmonic effects caused by gusting or vortex shedding from other adjacent structures is considered. One such issue is known to “ships captains” if two vessels sail sufficiently close they get effectively sucked together due to the bulk displacment flow along the outer surfaces of the two vessels.

[2] The Norwegian owned, French built platform built in the mid 1970’s was named after The Norwegian writter Alexander L. Kielland. Due to what was thought was a minor “safety addition” the stress dynamics were changed in a tension not compression structural member. The result was structural failure due to what is effectively “work hardening” and the resulting micro-cracking, and the most significant maratime disaster in Norwegian waters since WWII,


Having worked brieffly on another Penta-leg platform (DF-97) in the North Sea subsequent to the disaster you can perhaps understand my remembering both it and the Alexander Kielland

EvilKiru December 12, 2022 2:12 PM

Re: Ease – ment (and possibly base – ment). I guess that’s the result of being overly aggressive towards a 5-letter “bad” word that sometimes occurs in the middle of “good” words.

Woodie December 14, 2022 12:50 PM

Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing

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