The tyranny of fear

Along with several other surveyors, I attended a meeting last Friday with our County Recorder, Greg Diaz, and a representative from County Council.  We surveyors were upset over the recent decision to remove record maps from the County Department of Transportation website, but Mr. Diaz believes that the California Code, Sections 6254.21 & 6254.24 prohibit posting these maps because they may show the addresses of elected or appointed public officials.

These maps do not show any addresses, but they do contain names and associate them with identifiable parcel locations which may be in fact owned by an official of some sort.  This is an unreliable method of obtaining an address, but a resourceful terrorist may be able to use this information for nefarious purposes.  Of course there are much easier ways to obtain addresses, but our County Recorder is afraid of being blamed for dangerous security breaches.

The maps are currently available and will remain available to anyone with five dollars, for purchase from one of the private subscription services that buy information from all County Recorders, and repost it for sale on the internet.  For a reasonable price, the Mr. Diaz agreed to make the maps available on CD, or online with a password protected access, and soon we will again be able to access to the record information that is so vital to our profession.

It is the principal of this issues that irks me.  These maps are hosted by the Recorder as a part of the public record.  Having access to ownership information and recorded agreements and transactions is what allows you and me to protect our homes and families, not so much from unknown terrorists, as from predatory capitalists and unscrupulous swindlers.  You can be sure that if a bank or credit agency needs information on you, that information is readily available through a variety of sources.  Public records are one of the most helpful avenues for the ordinary person to track transactions and agreements or impartial evidence such as surveys.  These documents are primary evidence and without access to this information individuals are less able to understand the limits of their ownership.