My city building department has some old plans of my house on microfilm. I
need to get a paper copy and they tell me each sheet will cost $100 to make.
What is involved in transferring microfilm to paper? I cannot imagine $100
a sheet so if I need all the pages from plumbing to foundation to electrical
to roof framing etc... I will be out $2000? Can't Kinko do it much cheaper?
Not without the city building department's approval. Unfortunately,
Freedom of Information doesn't mean free copies.
What do you need the old plans for? Can you take a digital camera to
the building department and take some pictures of the screen?
Do you have a laptop, buy a film scanner if they will let you bring it
in and do it yourself. A drugstore photo center should charge 50 cents a
photo then for 6$ they could put it on CD. But id talk to someone else
there and negotiate 100 a photo is a ripoff, maybe they will make a cd
of all of them for 100 and you get blowups or keep them on your computer
if you wish.
No, but FOI laws do usually say they can only charge actual costs, and not
set the prices to drive away nuisance customers. He is pulling that number
out of his ass- go see HIS boss or the city legal department. Betcha if it
comes in through legal as an FOIA request, they won't pull that crap.
They will not let me take it out of the building. I request copies and they
said they have to send it out and is very expensive. I am going to see if I
can get them to project it on their projector and take a pic, but the film
is sort of grainy I really don't know how good a pic it will be.
Give the guy some face saving ability by pointing out youre a home
owner and not a corporation. It's remotely-remotely conceivable that
he actually quoted you the wrong price because of that, but even if
not, there should be some indirect way to not actually threaten them
but , "I was thinking of calling my city councilman (or writing the
county clerk) to see if there is some way to do this, but then it
occurred to me that you may have thought I was a corporation."
Better yet, in instances like this, just call back and hope you get
someone else and start from the beginning, as if you hadn't asked
before. You are likely to get an entirely different answer. My
friend does a lot of this and says she can get 3 different answers by
calling three times. After 20 years she still finds it amazing.
She keeps calling until someone gives her an answer she likes. No
threats, no lies, she just asks the same question. (in fact if you
know who you talked to before, and you should always write the names
down when they identify themselves, if it's the same person, hang up
and call back in an hour) or call at lunch when either he or the
other person will be at lunch)
Do you remember when I had the broken and patched phone line entering
my house. The first guy I talked to at the phone company said I *had*
to have them repair it and he couldn't tell me how much it would be,
until the guy came out. The second guy said I could probably do as
good a job as they did, since I soldered it, but if they did do it, it
would be free. A totally different answer on both points.
Film printers are plentiful, but fiche printers may be very hard to
find. I purchased the microfiche for a broken tv, and obviously it
was too hard to read it at the library and remember it at home.
I called a lot of places and only found one fiche printer in all of
Baltimore and a 30 mile radius. That was at Towson State University.
The public libaries had none. I don't think I called Johns Hopkins.
Towson would be closer.
I don't think they will let you take it out, but make sure you have a
place to print in advance if they do.
Something is very wrong there: Either with your post or the bldg
dept. Either info is missing from the post, you're trolling
(which I'm NOT accusing you of), or the dept's worthy of a good
old fashioned audit. I'd be at the next public meeting and bring
it up there to start with and go from there. If it's no go
there, start climbing the governmental ladder.
They really don't want to go hunt down the information. They first told me
if my building is older than 1985 there is no plans for it.
I then told her that in 1996 right after I bought the house from the last
owner I had some work done and at that time I asked for info and the
gentleman worked there was kind enough to do the research and found the
information on microfilm. I saw what I needed on the film and that's it.
So I KNOW it's available on microfilm. She then said it's impossible but I
insisted. She then said she has to charge me a $50 research fee (after I
told her where to look) which I paid. Then she said if she finds any
microfilm it will be $100 a sheet to get it printed. I think she wants me
to go away. I don't want to piss her off so I will wait till she gets
Chuckle. If you can verify the size and repro factor of the microfilm, you
could almost come up with a machine with print capability, and push it in
the door on a cart, for what they want for the work. I think OP called it-
they want her to go away. Time to submit it as an FOI request, if her state
has an equivilant to the federal FOIA act. (most do.) If they don't, might
be fun calling the local newspaper about it. Bureaucrats hate looking stupid
in the paper.
Seems to me a Foi requist should come later. It will take weeks or
months. And that assumes FOIA applies to this sort of thing. I would
look up what the law says before I relied on it. www.findlaw.com ??
Better to call several times until he finds someone helpful, or to
talk to the supervisor (remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease)
who might just say yes, at a reasonable price. If the supervisor
doesn't say yes, say that "My friends tell me to make a FOIA request,
or, to talk to Mr. Fletcher, the Assistant County Clerk (choose one),
but I don't want it to come to that."
[It's good to name the person who outranks him. It shows you know,
but that it's only your friends who are that mean. The OP himself is
a wonderful guy we'd all like to have a beer with, whether that is
true or not.]
When I was first or second year in college, I had bought a suit from
one of the two large departemnt tstores in the city I lived in, when I
was back home, and they wanted to alter it then but I said I was going
to lose weight (4 pounds?), and could they hold off and give me my one
free alteration later. And they said yes, and then it took me 12 or
18 months before I came back, more than i expected.
And then they said No. too much time. I said What difference does it
make how long I stayed away? No skin off your nose (I was more polite
than this. I was very polite.) It costs you the same if I do it this
year or two years ago. They wouldn't budge. I went to the store
manager, waited a few minutes, then said my piece in 15 seconds with
only the essential infomation and he said Fine. Took a total of 20 or
Strangely, they took it in and later gave it back to me saying it was
already altered. And indeed, there wasn't much material to let out.
Is it possible I was senile at the age of 18, or did they trim off the
excess out of spite? The latter seems very unlikely, and would have
beeen difficult to do without leaving evidence.
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