Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

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DWoolley
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Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby DWoolley » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:11 pm

I regularly hear land surveyors lamenting the effects of unlicensed practice on their business. The most recent reoccurring complaint is contractors doing their own surveying. The contractors use RTK/RTN and now, the use of total stations by many of the trades. The use of the “land surveying” equipment no longer separates you from them.

This month's Practice Based Chapter newsletter, due out next week, has articles about the effects of technology on white color jobs – apparently technology has devoured most of the blue color jobs and it has moved onto the white collar work. Oregon DOT has their inspectors “surveying”, performing certifications, because technology has created “stakeless” highway projects.

In the simplest form, what separates a professional land surveyor from “them”? A license. The license is intended to protect the public from unqualified practitioners. How does the public i.e. public agencies, contractors, homeowners etc. know they have hired a license professional? The application of our signature and seal on every document we produce. This would include cut sheets, exhibits, contracts, topographic maps etc. Besides, the law specifically requires it. Restated, not applying a signature and seal to final work product is a violation of law.

Riddle me this, why do I see more professional land surveyor work product without a signature and seal than with a signature and seal? Why waste time discussing unlicensed practice when we do not follow the simplest of laws that separates us from them? My job has included reviewing construction plans – most of which included state plane coordinates and topography. I never, not one instance in the review of hundreds of plans, saw a construction plan with a professional land surveyor’s signature and seal until after I requested it. Why is that? In my review, did I find unlicensed practitioners? Yes. Could I tell a licensee's work from an unlicensed persons work on sight? Nope.

If you’re not signing and sealing your work before it goes out the door or not turning unsigned and unsealed work into BPELSG, it isn’t too much to ask that you not complain about unlicensed practice, is it?

DWoolley

While on the topic of seals, my seal has a California bear placed in the middle of it. This seal is trademarked by me - same as the engineers seal. Want a challenge? Trademark the California bear on a state professional seal to an individual. If you see another licensee using the bear seal he/she has been granted a license to use the bear seal or the licensee is in violation of my trademark. Just sayin'.

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Steve Martin
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby Steve Martin » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:21 pm

What if I draw circles around its eyes and call it a Panda?

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DWoolley
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby DWoolley » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:42 pm

Whatever suits your fancy friend - sans a California bear inside of a professional land surveyor's or professional engineer's seal.

It hasn't been to much of a problem. We've only caught a couple of bootleggers. One out of town fellow, a PE, actually found it - presumably, rummaging through trademarks - and asked if he could get permission to use it. He found the trademark and then, found me.

DWoolley

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DWoolley
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby DWoolley » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:24 am

I hadn't considered that most folks probably haven't seen the seal I have referenced. To provide context to the conversation - a picture is worth a thousand words - please see the attached.

DWoolley

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SPMPLS
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby SPMPLS » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:31 pm

My seal has worked just fine for the 30 years I have been licensed and the many hundreds of times I have used it. I have never felt compelled to embellish it in any way to make mine stand out. I'd rather the quality of what I have affixed it to do that. Kind of like putting a really fancy North Arrow on a map. Maybe it's intended to draw attention away from the important content, or lack thereof?

Your trademark is safe from my infringement, but thanks for the advance notice.

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DWoolley
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby DWoolley » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:19 pm

I am busted, errr. Now everyone knows the intent of my seal swag was to draw the attention away from the technical aspects of my [shoddy] work product. The effects of the seal was to mesmerize the reviewers into not looking at the actual survey work - similar to the eyes of Kaa of Jungle Book acclaim.

Ah, thank you Scott Martin? Now knowing folks will place something - rosemary, an amulet, burning uncrossing incense - over the seal before the seal cast its hex. I am sure to suffer more than the customary single map check.

"I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see". Alice - Alice in Wonderland

DWoolley

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SPMPLS
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby SPMPLS » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:39 pm

Just the response I expected. Thank you for not disappointing me. My words were intended to convey my philosophy regarding never feeling the need to embellish, let alone trademark, the seal I have proudly used for more than 30 years. I never said, or implied, anything about your work or anyone else's, except to say that, in my opinion, a fancy seal adds exactly the same value to a work product as a fancy north arrow does - ZERO. Oh, and that you have no need to worry about me violating your trademark.

Carry on, Mr. Woolley.

Scott P. Martin, PLS 5684

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DWoolley
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby DWoolley » Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:29 am

SPMPLS wrote:My seal has worked just fine for the 30 years I have been licensed and the many hundreds of times I have used it. I have never felt compelled to embellish it in any way to make mine stand out. I'd rather the quality of what I have affixed it to do that. Kind of like putting a really fancy North Arrow on a map. Maybe it's intended to draw attention away from the important content, or lack thereof?


Scott Martin:

In conveying your "philosophy" you commented and speculated on the use or purpose of the bear seal and then, asked an open ended question, presumably of me as the originator. Rhetorical? I answered your open ended question by responding in kind - which apparently, you were waiting in anticipation and by your own words "thank you for not disappointing me" - not rhetorical. Cause and anticipated effect - a little late to cry foul.

For future reference, don't beard the lion in his den.

Now that we have put the nonsense behind us, what do you think of the original post concerning unsigned and unstamped work product as it relates to unlicensed practice?

Do you find Caltrans District 3 to be in complete compliance with most every document produced by their surveyors or their contractors are signed and sealed?

DWoolley

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SPMPLS
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby SPMPLS » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:11 pm

Do you find Caltrans District 3 to be in complete compliance with most every document produced by their surveyors or their contractors are signed and sealed?


I have no idea. I have never worked there.

Thanks for the "future reference" warning.

Now that we have put the nonsense behind us, what do you think of the original post concerning unsigned and unstamped work product as it relates to unlicensed practice?


When/if you post something that is worthy of my professional opinion, I will be sure to let you know. This is not it, however. Thank you for asking though.

As I said, carry on Mr. Woolley.

SPM

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Anthony Maffia
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby Anthony Maffia » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:09 pm

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

I hear the chanting, but the reality is kind of a letdown.
Back to my soaps.
- Anthony Maffia, LSIT

William Magee
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby William Magee » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:56 am

My curiosity was piqued in wondering why the bear as a trademark. I can't help but speculate that, as being part of the Great Seal of California, that very same silhouette symbol might give rise to being identified as more official than the utilitarian seal most use. I find it also curious why one would choose to limit all engineering practitioners who might want to dress up their seals with part of one of California's official symbols. Particularly curious why its use by engineers is being limited by someone who, correct me if I'm assuming wrong, cannot use any of the engineers seals himself.
Brand protection is one thing, but limiting others from using part of the Great Seal of California strikes me a bit off-center.
Don't shoot the messenger.

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JLG3RD
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby JLG3RD » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:34 am

Another useless discussion on this forum.

Hope the seal brings you joy Woolley, it's stands out like a sore thumb!

With regards to your original question...the times are a changing and new technology is driving it. ODOT has it together and there is no reason a contractor shouldn't be doing grade checking. AMG has pushed that.

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pls7809
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby pls7809 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:44 pm

I think the sentiment that DW was trying to convey in the first part of his original post has been overshadowed by the trademarked stamp info. His personal seal isn't really important to the crux of the matter, that there is a ton of survey product being delivered to clients, or others, without a stamp and signature.

I also wonder why that is.

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rpost
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby rpost » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:07 pm

Great Dave! Now I have to ask for a refund on the new LS stamp I ordered. I thought the bear was cool. They only charged me like $5 more. Maybe I will go for a bald eagle or better yet, our state flower.

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Warren Smith
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby Warren Smith » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:09 pm

How do ya like Rich Maher's coiled snake design?
Warren D. Smith, LS 4842
County Surveyor
San Joaquin County

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mpallamary
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby mpallamary » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:54 pm

This has been a pet peeve for me for a long time. It took me ten years before I got a response from the State Board on signing and stamping documents. My inquiry had to do with Encroachment Permits that were clearly land survey products. The State Lands Commission is one of the biggest offenders as they seem, as a matter of policy, not to want to sign or stamp anything. I have a crateload of documents from them all stamped "preliminary." The problem is they are never finalized. From my perspective, the bigger companies are the biggest offenders. Conversely, most enforcement cases are against small practitioners.

See the attached.

This is a deplorable situation and it is getting worse.


PS, I love Rich's stamp!
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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land butcher
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby land butcher » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:05 am

IIRC someone once told me that having a rope border instead of just solid line was unofficial.

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pls7809
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby pls7809 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:27 am

The Board Rules Section 411 says that the seal shall be of a design similar to those shown within the Board Rules. Changing the linestyle I think is still "similar". Plus the extra symbols are just that, extra. The law says the seal must have, at minimum, the items listed in the section.

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DWoolley
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby DWoolley » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:27 pm

I was hoping to discuss the practice of applying signature and seal to all work product, in accordance with the law, to separate the professionals from unlicensed practitioners. The conversation turned into a back and forth on seal design. Apparently, there is a lot of interest as this thread has nearly a thousand views.

Warren Smith asked about Rich Maher's seal - whether I like it?

Rich Maher’s snake symbol, shown in his avatar, is from a very American symbol, the Gadsden flag. I have one word, seven letters, a-w-e-s-o-m-e. No wonder he is the CLSA Member of the Year from the [Practice Based] Chapter of the Year, well done sir. As I understand it, the Practice Based Chapter will need a moving truck to haul all of their chapter and member awards out of the conference this year. For those that may not know, Rich Maher is the Orange County Tech Czar and he does a great job.

[Pause] Ah, wait a minute, is Maher trying to draw attention away from the technical aspects of his work?! Time and space are becoming unclear to me …the snake seal symbology mesmerized me, drat! Curses to the Member of Year, Rich Maher!

DWoolley

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David Kendall
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby David Kendall » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:04 am

I've been biting my tongue on this one for days. Here's my two shots:

I'm not interested in topo surveying, construction surveying, cut sheets or construction plans. If it was up to me I would let all of that go to unlicensed techs or engineers. It's mostly automated already and it will only get easier.

Lucas says that soon a boundary survey will be delivered by the Dominos pizza delivery drone as an add-on topping. For most small subdivision lots I believe that to be true. When the iPhone lidar sensor comes out and the dGPS google glasses allow you to see the proposed road alignment on the ground and pull a tape to get your own cuts then the death of the topo surveyor will be complete.

What they won't be able to automate is taking a mess of old cursive deeds and analyzing them against field measurements to hammer out a boundary or mediating a boundary agreement between angry neighbors to keep them out of court or hustling the planning department or running property lines through the woods and mountains. That's where I'll be.

Do I find it offensive that unlicensed people are putting out survey maps? Yes. I'm unlicensed. I perform boundary surveys and draw maps and write legal descriptions all day every day then I sell it to someone with a license. Do I find it offensive when I see a caltrans exhibit with no date and no seal which relates fixed objects to boundaries? Yes. County governments do the same thing. So does PGE. Are they exploiting holes in the law? Certainly. Government is the best racket going (for the moment). Tip your hat.

It's bullshit. I understand it. No one wants to take on any unnecessary liability and no one wants to spend an extra dime to do it right. It's the American way and it's corroding the engineering design sector and faith in government and undermining the true professionals.

Position yourself in a place where you are the first one they call to clean up the next mess. I'm betting that is the new paradigm.

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PLS7393
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby PLS7393 » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:13 am

My Topographic / Site Surveys include a note:

"ANY REPRODUCTION OF THIS MAP WITHOUT MY PROFESSIONAL LAND SURVEYORS SEAL AND SIGNATURE, IS NOT CONSIDERED AN ORIGINAL MAP."

I send my client the pdf with my seal and signature, along with a cad file with the seal removed.

Done, next project!

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mpallamary
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Re: Unlicensed practice and signatures with seals

Postby mpallamary » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:56 am

I have the same disclosure on my maps. Here is what my email signature says:

"Any and all land surveying documents prepared by me or under my direct supervision, if attached to this email and unless otherwise noted, are issued in accordance with Section 8761 of the Business and Professions Code (The Professional Land Surveyors Act) and unless noted otherwise, are "Preliminary" documents. All final surveys, reports, and drawings, issued by me will be signed and stamped in accordance with the Business and Professions Code."


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