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Metal Detecting The Grass Strip Between The Sidewalk And The Streets In Front Of Houses?

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I tried detecting a front strip of a street in Townsville.. Since the houses were all run down and shabby looking, I figured it wouldn't be a problem.. I couldn't have been more wrong.. In front of the third house the owner came out and wanted to know what I was up to.. He pointed at the few holes I'd already dug and said I'd ruined the look of the place.. I was tempted to say it couldn't look any worse but realised that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.. What looked like a neglected front strip to me represented years of watering weeds and mowing to him.. 

When I showed him how I'd filled my holes and barely left a trace he became a bit more interested and wanted to know what I'd found.. Here my case totally collapsed as all I could show him was a few bottle tops and a rusty key.. 

It's also gone the other way with home owners keen for me to have a look.. I was asked by an elderly couple to search an empty lot before a house was build on it.. The land was owned by the lady's family and it had been sold.. I found an old lead toy (motorbike with rider) and a few pennies and six-pence dating back to the early 1920s.. They were very happy with these small pieces of family history.. Whilst I was there the neighbour over the fence also asked me to have a look at his block of land.. I also found a few bits of silver from the same era there..      

In short, I'd recommend asking permission regardless of how crappy the front strip might look to you.. If you can show some good finds from the same neighbourhood you stand a better chance of convincing people that digging up 'their' land is a great idea.. 

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On 7/30/2023 at 7:56 PM, mn90403 said:

Each city has its own ordinances.  Check with the city before you dig.

My 'point' for checking with the city is that you can arm yourself with the 'official take' from the city on what you can do and not do.  I've done this.  I've worked for some cities and the federal government in the past. 

I also use this approach about city parks.  I've found that the employee who has the most knowledge about this and he would like me to avoid problems and will give me some pointers.  He might even tell me about other detectorists and the areas where they have found interesting things.  Keep them in the loop if you get a chance.  I've had beach groomers tell me the same sort of things.

Now there is an even bigger payoff if you have a city contact.  They may tell you about some planned construction.  That includes sidewalks.  I've seen where the city of Los Angeles has to replace and repair hundreds of miles of sidewalks as the result of a court order.  If I had a contact at the city manager's office, they could tell me the construction schedules and I could detect the strips and the old sidewalk area at a time when I could use a mini-backhoe, and no one would care!

Check with your local little city, historical office or local representative and be helpful and you will get more permissions than if you don't.


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Asking for permission from government bureaucrats can often get you a big NO too. I mean, what incentive do they have to say yes and possibly get in trouble from their boss? I find it's better to just look up the law yourself and take the personal bias and/or ignorance of the law, out of the equation. 

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  • 1 month later...

I used to do it all the time in Stockton. City owns it. Found tons of silver coins. I only hit old ghetto areas, and specifically looked for dirt or dead grass areas. If it looked nice, I didnt hit it. And usually early AM, on a weekend

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