Post 82 Blues

pls5528
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Post 82 Blues

Post by pls5528 »

Post 82 Blues
I wanted to speak in retrospect to my view of the law which caused the separation of Civil Engineers and Land Surveyors. I have worked with and for civil engineers for fifty years and have a great deal of respect for them, especially those who reciprocate that respect to the survey profession. My father and his brothers (my uncles) were civil engineers (pre-82), and, although allowed to perform land survey tasks, stayed in their lane of expertise. I believe this was true for most engineers in this era. In fact, I personally have known some which were excellent surveyors. There were the few that performed surveys which had no business performing such work, and, for the most part, I believe this caused the change in the law.
I began my survey career in the deserts of Arizona, and at that time, there were no colleges which offered specific survey programs in that state. The closest academic program was an Associate in Science program in Civil Engineering Technology. The program taught water resources engineering, hydrology, highway and road design, bridge design and structural analysis, soil mechanics, route surveying, plane surveying 1 and plane surveying 2, along with several drafting classes in civil, surveying, descriptive geometry, architectural and structural steel detailing. As much as I thought back then that some of these classes were overkill for what a land surveyor needs, it gave me a lot of insight on future projects as a surveyor.
Generally speaking, what I have personally experienced since the law change is engineers who don't know anything about surveying, and surveyors which don't know anything about civil engineering. This has created a lot of friction between the two disciplines. It is most common that surveyors work within the confines of a civil engineering firm in California. With current development requirements, most of the time you need both disciplines for initial submittal review. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding of each other's work causes problems. As a survey manager for nearly thirty years, many times I felt as if I was arm wrestling with the chief engineer over budgets? Some engineers believe a "survey budget" should be a percentage of the overall project budget. Some don't understand that the boundary may be a retracement of a metes and bounds parcel, or a sectional breakdown in Alpine County, and, as such, the costs are more than a subdivision lot in a city? I have also personally experienced some engineering firms to have a "backdoor policy", whereas the surveyors were to enter in the back door office. I always resented that policy, and felt it very disrespectful. I would have enjoyed seeing one of such engineers to spend a day in the field on a survey crew on a nice 120 degree day in Palm Springs? Perhaps that may have changed their policy?
Right now there is more need for surveyors than ever. With that being said, it may be wise to allow registered civil engineers to perform the tasks (now prohibited by law) as a surveyor, under the following conditions:
1) Pass a state exam (relative to land surveying) specific to state, local laws and boundary control and legal principles.
2) Work for a minimum of three years in the field (including one year as a party chief).
In the event the above can happen, I believe it may help satisfy the need for the diminishing land surveyors in the State of California. I also believe that in doing so, this may help the civil and survey disciplines to have greater respect for one another?
As a Land Surveyor, I believe I am in the minority on this opinion. I will be leaving now out the front door.
Michael J. Walters PLS
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Warren Smith
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by Warren Smith »

Michael,

I experienced what you describe through the 70s and 80s. Since then, I have been on 'the other side of the counter'.
There is a vast difference between firms which submit tentative maps, zone change applications, improvement.plans, final maps, and site plans which effectively present the development project as a unified whole, and those which piecemeal the different elements.
Being a pre 82 surveyor gives me the perspective of experiencing the consequences of that statute.
If a developer wants the most efficient management of its product, there are firms out there which can accomodate that plan.
The Mom and Pop surveys benefit from the specialized training and commitment to that business model.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by DWoolley »

pls5528 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:11 pm ....under the following conditions:
1) Pass a state exam (relative to land surveying) specific to state, local laws and boundary control and legal principles.
2) Work for a minimum of three years in the field (including one year as a party chief).
...
Michael J. Walters PLS
Michael J. Walters:

Item 1, is the suggestion to "pass a state exam" that is different from the current land surveying exam?

Item 2, is the suggestion to also increase the field experience of those qualifying for the land surveyors exam? The suggestion exceeds the current PLS qualifications to sit for the exam.

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pls5528
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by pls5528 »

Re:
"Item 1, is the suggestion to "pass a state exam" that is different from the current land surveying exam?
The intent of my suggestion would be Pass the California state-specific Professional Land Surveyor exam and
the portion of the State Laws and Rules.

Item 2, is the suggestion to also increase the field experience of those qualifying for the land surveyors exam? The suggestion exceeds the current PLS qualifications to sit for the exam."
The intent of my suggestion is to modify the requirements for field experience to the three years (for registered civil engineers only).Typically the current civil academic programs cover very little surveying. I have never been a fan of swapping academic time for field time, especially on a one to one basis. In my opinion, it may take two years for someone to learn field techniques and methods in order to develop the knowledge and ability to run a crew for the third year. Who knows, some engineers may like it so much, they may never go back?
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by LS_8750 »

I agree with Mr. Walters and Mr. Smith about the present day and recent past rift between surveyors and engineers. Shops that perform planning and engineering services without in-house surveying are typically rudderless, they bring in an LS to run the survey side and the LS gets tired of dealing with engineers clueless to what surveyors do for the salary received and the survey department manager becomes a revolving door position.

I am surprised there are not more dual licensed professional engineers and land surveyors these days. As a dual PE and PLS myself, I encourage engineers to get the field survey experience because I believe it makes them better engineers at minimum.

Most engineers couldn't survey themselves out of a paper bag. I agree that field time should be a requirement for PE's obtaining their PLS.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by CBarrett »

Sounds like we need to find a middle ground and bridge the gap.
Respect for each others work and priorities might be a good start.

Whenever contemplating change, it's good to start with areas where we have the largest amount of influence, which is ourselves. What can we do different, to see if it brings different results, as the outside reacts.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by DWoolley »

If the Professional Engineers were interested in land surveying they would be licensed. The dual licensees are rare in my experience.

The numbers of PLSs, approximately 4,200, includes the dual registration engineers. My estimate is there may be 100 to 150 of these folks, less than 4-5% (?).

Clearly, the PEs are not interested in licensure as a PLS. Like architects, an accomplished working PE has no incentive to be a land surveyor and certainly, little interest in being a chainman (nevermind the issues with union firms).

I see PEs being welcomed back into land surveying as an all or nothing proposition. Either grant them full privileges as they stand, all 50k of them, or maintain the current prohibition to practice.

The land surveying community needs more licensees, but probably not 50,000 more overnight.

We have paid people to work 5, 10, 15, 20 years as "land surveyors" and placed zero demand on them to get licensed. Why would anyone do that in 2023? No license, no job going forward. I write that into employment contracts today with a specific window for licensure.

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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by LS_8750 »

Goes to show civil engineers are not as smart as they think they are.

Again, most engineers couldn't survey their way out of a paper bag. Prohibition to practice was the correct way to go then, as it is now. It is not difficult to move from PE to PLS, except for the field experience. They need the field experience. I don't recall a single graduate engineer not overwhelmed by the transition from classroom to office. That is the time to send them out to the field. Engineers not sending their new hired graduates out into the field are criminals, robbing the young ones of untold value in terms of hands on experience. Shameful.

Having dual PE and PLS licenses is the best!
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Warren Smith
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by Warren Smith »

PLSA section 8741 d(4) exempts registered civil engineers from the requirement to pass the exam for land-surveyor-in-training, so there is an easier path for RCEs to obtain an LS.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by DWoolley »

In my experience, most of the dual licensees take land surveying very seriously. They are appropriately cautious in handling the land surveying work product when it is their signature. I have found them to be competent as land surveyors (except the one I turned into BPELSG) even though they have limited field experience. More importantly, they tend to be quite aware of their limitations. This has not always been my experience with the land surveyors.

I have bumped into land surveyors in the thick of a potentially bad situation with little idea of the surrounding circumstances or the downstream effects of their work. Things so serious I realize a hitch in my breathing. I have one such project on my desk today that conceivably will result in several millions of dollars in damages. I encountered a similar situation of a much smaller scale back in 2007 and it costs the surveyor $425k plus he had buy one adjoining house and likely had another $400k in legal fees.

Some land surveyors approach work as "how hard can it be?" or "I will figure it out as we go along". In my experience,
engineers are less likely to think this way if it is their license. They'd far rather tell me it doesn't seem that complicated and ask me to reduce the fees.

Doubters? Look no further than the other current threads on this forum, the percentage of violators per license capita, the unfiled work product, record boundaries, etc. A bottomless well. I believe one surveyor used the word "shocked" when he realized other land surveyors had been lying to him about breaking the law his entire career. I have not seen such wanton behavior from lawyers, architects or engineers. I have seen several attorneys literally stunned into silence when I explain to them a land surveyor clearly broke the law or fell well below the standard of care. They cannot wrap their mind around it. By the time I explain it to an attorney they have already submitted to the court and now, have their own legal issues.

DWoolley
Last edited by DWoolley on Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
CBarrett
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by CBarrett »

I don't see very many engineers interested in becoming land surveyors, it is not a high priority... and Most of my career has been spent in large Engineer/surveyor companies where you get almost 10 engineers per one surveyors, so I see fairly hefty number of engineers. I don't believe that this is a pool from which we are going to get high numbers of surveyors. Surveying doesn't have the salaries nor the prestige most civil engineers want.

However, to continue to function well in the industry, friendlier relationships with civils and better cross disciplinary understanding would certainly be beneficial. For one when it comes to contract, fee and scope of services negotiations. When we service our internal clients (our own engineers), one of the more frequent complaints we hear is that 'so and so can do it cheaper, why can't we do it in house?' Well, so and so they usually quote is a much smaller or even a startup outfit with hourly wages 20-30% below what we have to charge.

Then I hear some of the survey managers complain how engineers are being bad and don't care etc... well, us surveyors, survey managers are the ones who need to sell the engineers on the value of our service. In this case engineers are often advocating for themselves and the client (they want to look good for the client). Surveyors, in general, not the best when it comes to advocating for ourselves. (for more info research concepts of soft skills, continued ed, EI, critical thinking, argumentation and mediation skills etc).

Back to surveying number, I very much doubt that this will come from engineers. Especially not those already out of school and past first 5 years of their careers.

Where I see a much higher short term influx of college grads is from GIS and Geographic programs, and for some of the smarter kids this seems like a pretty easy switch. Oddly enough three of the most recent GIS grads that came to us were initially exposed to surveying and offered a path in by the Union, even though their primary interest was office operations and mapping.

I do wish we had a stronger trade school level presence, and offered a path through technician work, in addition to stronger college level programs - but, that's a long term proposition.

Allowing civils to practice surveying is not the way either, the two disciplines have diverged significantly enough compared to 1960's or 1970's.

When we talk bout the shortage of surveyors, have we isolated in more detail which sub-disciplines within surveying are lacking the most?
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by Warren Smith »

10 County Surveyors are dual registrants. There are three pre-82 Civil Engineers as County Surveyors.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by DWoolley »

Warren Smith wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:21 pm 10 County Surveyors are dual registrants. There are three pre-82 Civil Engineers as County Surveyors.
1:5, 22% are dual licensees/Pre-82. I find the same in the City Surveyor positions. It makes sense. Suppose there are two positions open, City Surveyor and City Engineer, each paying $100k annually, hire one person with two licenses and pay her $150k, smart money for the City Manager. The only person assed-out is the land surveyor.

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Post by LS_8750 »

Mr. Woolley is right. Counties are catching on.
Those in the know see two professionals under one hat, value.
Becoming dual licensed is a quick way to move up to principal in a company, if so inclined.

Again, goes to show civil engineers aren't all that smart.
Keeping it a secret doesn't injure my pride.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by CBarrett »

LS_8750 wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:12 pm Mr. Woolley is right. Counties are catching on.
Those in the know see two professionals under one hat, value.
Becoming dual licensed is a quick way to move up to principal in a company, if so inclined.

Again, goes to show civil engineers aren't all that smart.
Keeping it a secret doesn't injure my pride.
Did you get your PE or PLS first?
I should get my PE going while the engineers I worked for are still alive... On the other hand I am fully entrenched in surveying in recent years, I can't convince myself that the effort is worth is, this late in the game.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by pls5528 »

With all above said, most engineering firms which have a survey component would love to have a multiple registered employee! I think the biggest issue is that most civil engineers may feel this work is beneath them? The required true field experience would be degrading to them and make them feel like "construction workers". Surveyor's take on all projects, from GPS, boundaries topo's and yes construction. It is difficult work, and yes, you may have to pull a manhole cover and cut some brush, but, this is simply part of the work experience. Most civil firms would not only encourage the engineer to pursue this venture, but would normally provide a fiscal incentive to do so. What I don't want to see, are the civil engineers given a "gold card" from the civil firms, which exaggerate their respective backgrounds in order to economically serve their firm (I know many of you have seen this?). I simply would like to see the comradely with civil engineering components in a beneficial way to not only help ourselves, but the public as well. Appreciated all the comments above---MJW
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by hellsangle »

Nice thoughts . . .

However, I rather doubt a recently-minted Civil would know how to retrace boundaries. Would they understand paramount title? Would they understand searching for unrecorded surveys? Would they understand the intuition one obtains from decades of experience to know where to search for that old wood hub set 50 to 100 years ago? Would they know RTK/GPS is not all that it cracks up to be . . . Would they know static GPS analysis? Would they know how to describe evidence? Would they know junior/senior title rights and how to present a court-defensible opinion? Would they know how to write an unambiguous description?

These all come from exemplary mentors - not budget-only minded bean-counters . . . from which they may have come.

I agree . . . there are some stellar civils that know better how to find the true boundary than some licensed surveyors.

Crazy Phil's two cent . . .
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by Jim Frame »

It is difficult work, and yes, you may have to pull a manhole cover and cut some brush, but, this is simply part of the work experience.
Heck, those are some of the best parts of the work experience.

Yesterday morning it was 40°F outside, I was on my hands and knees with dirt from a hole I'd just dug covering my legs, I was sawing off the bottom of a fence board to get at the corner monument I needed to tie in, and all the while I thought, "I've got the best job in the world!"
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by DWoolley »

hellsangle wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 5:16 pm . . .
However, I rather doubt a recently-minted Civil would know how to retrace boundaries. Would they understand paramount title? Would they understand searching for unrecorded surveys? Would they understand the intuition one obtains from decades of experience to know where to search for that old wood hub set 50 to 100 years ago? Would they know RTK/GPS is not all that it cracks up to be . . . Would they know static GPS analysis? Would they know how to describe evidence? Would they know junior/senior title rights and how to present a court-defensible opinion? Would they know how to write an unambiguous description?
...
Crazy Phil's two cent . . .
Phil:

If you were a betting man, how many bonafide licensed surveyors know the answers to those questions?

In Marin and the adjacent counties, what is your best estimate? 40, 50, 100%?

Is it fair to task a PE with knowledge beyond the generic PLS knowledge base?

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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by hellsangle »

Is it fair to task a PE with knowledge beyond the generic PLS knowledge base?
So . . . are you saying we should add another 50,000 to the Known Bad Actors Club? If a civil wants to be a professional land surveyor he or she should possess fire-in-the-belly like Mr. Frame and many others have for the profession.

Thing is . . . if the civil did get down 'n dirty and collect evidence like the fire-in-the-belly surveyors . . . they might say fuggetaboutit to engineering and embrace surveying as a new found love. LOL

Great thread . . .

Crazy Phil's signin' off . . .
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by pls5528 »

Uncle Phil Walters working in the San Fernando Valley.jpg
Case in point. Some civil engineers, like my Uncle Phil Walters, graduated Berkeley with civil degree and went on to being a bridge engineer. One of his largest projects was the original "Bay Bridge". This picture was him surveying in the San Fernando Valley (prior to all the development). He never minded getting his fet dirty!
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hellsangle
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by hellsangle »

Kewl picture, Michael!

Thank for sharing. And he's gotta be proud of his nephew and his accomplishments on the Bay Bridge when OSHA wasn't around. LOL.

Have a nice rest of the week . . .
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by LS_8750 »

His smile says it all.
It takes one to know one.
Great photo. Thanks for sharing Mr. Walters.

I think perhaps Mr. Woolley's point is that it is one thing to get your PLS, it is an entirely separate matter to be a professional land surveyor.

I studied civil engineering at San Diego State, graduated in 1996, got my CA civil PE in 2002 and my CA PLS in 2010. Self taught. Never worked under a PLS. I'm a fire in the belly type. Always considered myself an engineer with a land surveying problem.
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by Warren Smith »

One of my mentors was an LS, who then obtained his RCE (pre-82), then his Juris Doctorate and passed the Bar exam.
His practice encompassed all three disciplines, but he was a primarily a land surveyor - with benefits.
That's continuing education!
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hellsangle
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Re: Post 82 Blues

Post by hellsangle »

Now there's a MENTOR, Warren!!

You were most fortunate to have such a mentor.
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