Lessons from a Landscape Architect: De facto vs. De jur

TASA ID: 334

If you are driving down a steep hillside on a narrow serpentine road, to the intersection of the nearest major road, you are on the site of one of my most difficult analysis.  A freshwater reservoir had slowly evolved over a period of time into a semi-formal campsite with primitive and semi-developed camps, served by a road that was originally designed to accommodate service vehicles used to inspect and maintain pumps and valves at the hilltop reservoir.  With silent assent from government officials and without formal designation of land use changes, the intensity of use of the site slowly increased. A geometric analysis of the turning radii of this road, along with an inspection of pavement and widths, determined the designs speed of this road to be 15 miles per hour while speed limit signs posted indicated 35 miles per hour.

This condition contributed to a truck rollover resulting in a death of one of the passengers.  Although subsequent legal actions focused on operator error, it seemed that contributing elements included the adaptive reuse of a specified area and facility without safety analysis.

These attributes placed this incident in the arena of another site where a hilltop reservoir had evolved into a toboggan/sled slope with runs that terminated in wrought iron fences and in one spot a perimeter vehicular road.

A similar circumstance existed on a site where a former bridle trail had been converted into a golf course without study or consideration of the differences between horses and golf carts in terms of slope or topography, speed and necessary braking power.

Lesson Learned?

Recycling sites and structure through adaptive reuse clearly enhances the usefulness of existing areas but it must be done with consideration of potential impact upon users.

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA.

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Tasa ID334

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