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I contacted the powers that be here at Geocaching.com about the below portions of a thread located on another site dedicated to local caching and they suggested I post my dillema here. So I have copied the important portions of that thread for you to check out. It is a site for cachers of The San Francisco Bay Area, so if you live in this area, specifically the Silicon Valley, I would appreciate some suggestions as to how to right this wrong. If I could afford the gasoline, and the price of the plants or whatever it would take in order to clean up this mess, I would be down there in a heartbeat. But I can not afford to go, no matter how much I want to. Im not happy about having to post this at all, but I feel even worse that nothing is being done... I was wondering if the cachers of the Greater Silicon Valley can help out. Once you read the posts, feel free to post whatever and if you can get some cachers together to fix the damage done at the below mentioned business, it would mean a great deal, not only to the geocaching community, but to the business as well. Plus I would be eternally grateful.

Poidawg - A 2 hour drive from the area of damage. :P




POSTER: "I couldn't find any discussion of this before, but I have discovered a cache illegally placed and definitely not with the owner's approval. I was searching for the cache yesterday, which is at a local eatery, and was noticing the damage being done to the rock garden and surrounding grassy area. Just about then I had the manager approach me and ask what I was doing. When I explained, he told me to take the cache and leave (mistakenly under the impression that I was responsible) and made a lot of noise about charging me with vandalism. I did leave, but left the cache, which I never found. I soon sent an email to the cache owner about the situation, which has been ignored. So how do I get this cache archived and removed, and what do we do about the irresponsible owner? I really don't enjoy being put in a situation like this. This is the sort of thing that gives caching a black eye."


ME: "I feel bad about the owner of the establishment. Landscaping is NOT cheap.

I am wondering how much damage was done to the area, and if the local cachers can step up to the plate and revitalize that guys garden!! There is so much to say about actions betraying intent. After sprucing up the place, maybe going in to eat lunch will go a long way to help out as well. Just a thought. I would be down in a flash if I could afford the gasoline!"


POSTER: "If you're referring to the cache that started this thread, it was at In-n-Out just off of 101 in Mountain View. And the 'garden' in question is a rock garden. But the rocks were being disturbed, and the grass was pretty severely torn up, but I suspect both will recover now that the cache is gone."


ME: "Seems to me that you noticed the damage, then it was extensive enough to make right, or see if other cachers in the area can help make an effort to right this wrong.

Whether it be turning stones back over and purchasing grasses to replace the dead and or damaged ones, I think it warrants the effort. Letting the management, who was so upset he was threatening to charge the author of the start of this thread with vandalism, sounds like enough damage was done.

Maybe Im reading this wrong but just because it is a fast food restaurant, and not everyone sees the value in the landscaping materials does not mean it does not matter or it matters less than if somewhere else. This makes me want to distance myself from geocaching. People can not be forced to care and that there is little or no attempt made for the local cachers to try and make good out of an obvious wrong is sad.

Really, what would it take to turn the rocks back over and replace them? To find out about the grasses and get a kitty together to replace or repair the grasses? To get a dozen cachers together to help out with this?

I just spent hours at the start of this month, with a number of other cachers, and boyscouts cleaning up garbage, clearing out weeds and placing mountains of mulch down to beautify an area in my town. This month is CITO month and here Im reading about just the type of behavior which makes caching and cachers look bad. Frankly I am put off by a lack of concern in this matter. But that is just me, I care. I would like to say I am affiliated with an organization that cares - all the time, not just when it makes them look good."


POSTER: I wasn't trying to denigrate your reply. It just seemed to me that this is the type of situation where simply leaving the area alone will allow it to heal fairly quickly"


ME - :) Better contact the powers that be on GC.com and find out what to do...

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I agree. Moving it to the general forums.


Generally if there is an issue with a cache, have the land owner/manager contact the Geocaching.com web site. Our policy is to archive a listing if it has been hidden at a location without the landowner's permission.

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Thank you for the information. All I found were two In & Out Burger places, and I had trouble finding any caches which might be the one in question....

Anyone in the Southbay willing to assist the management of this establishment, in cleaning up our mess?

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My guess is, the owner would NOT appreciate a dozen geocachers showing up to "spruce up the place." Aside from quietly making a cash donation, the best thing to do is just leave him in peace...


I agree...if it's a commercial establishment, they would probably frown upon a group showing up to "fix" things. Without seeing what might have been done, I don't know if a donation might be nice or if things will recover on their own. It might be a nice gesture to the manager, but really, it should come from the original hider (at least the contact).

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The cache was a fake rock and is now archived.

From the other forum, here are two posts, both from people with >1000 finds.


Post 1


I found the cache in question before it was archived. The night I was there was a little misty (go figure) and there were some young teens hanging out by their car waiting for the rest of their friends. One kid starts kicking around one of the rocks for fun or boredom. Last kid arrives with his bag of food. They jump in the truck and leave. Another group of kids was a little farther away playing frisbee in the lot. I go to purchase something from the store in question so that I have a reason to hang out in the parking lot a little longer. When I come out, the frisbee players had left.


My point? I don't think that just geocachers were entirely responsible for the rock movement.


Post 2


I was at Costco this afternoon, so I stopped by to see the condition of the area. All the rocks are in their correct place and the lawn looks fine on both sides of the rock garden. The lawn appeared to be freshly mowed. Seems none the worse for wear to me. With all the rain the grass may have looked quite trampled, but it's fine now.


So, the cache is gone and the area looks fine. End of story.

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I have been in that situation with a homeowner yelling at me. I told them I would take care of it and got their phone number. I emailed the cache owner who archived their cache and I called the home owner and told them that things had been resolved. They said they were surprised that I called.


In that cachers shoes I would have taken care of it. The land owner (and if the biz owner is leasing the site he has the use of the land) trumps any one cache owner period. I would have also made sure that the business owner knew I took care of it. He needs to know that there are geocachers out there who will not allow something wrong to stand.


If taking care of it meant taking that cache, SBA logs, Calling Heidi personally then that's what I would have done.


I do not make a habit of second guessing cache owners permissions or placements but when they put me in the position of having my butt chewed there is no second guessing involved. I'll deal with it, preferably with the cache owners cooperation, but without if that's what it takes.

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If I understand correctly the person placing the cache didn't first get permission to place it there. I always ask and the owners know where to call me if there is this kind of trouble that requires the cache be removed.

I forget. Does geocaching.com ask for member addresses when they sign up? If so wouldn't it be possible for that landowner to find the cache owner through geocaching.com and send him a bill for the repair for damage he was responsible for initiating?

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A point or two to consider.


Don't assume the cache owner didn't have permission. While I agree that is true in far too many cases, it still should not be assumed. He may have gotten permission from a prior manager. He may have gotten permission from a different manager, and the one the finder encountered didn't know about it. (After all, the same manager is not on duty 24/7.) He may have thought he had permission from someone (perhaps an assistant manager, or such) who didn't really have the authority to OK it, but the cache owner wouldn't necessarily have a way to know that.


None of which matters much in the end. When there appears to be some kind of dispute about whether permission has been granted, the only appropriate response is to assume that permission does not currently exist and to remove the cache -- which is apparently what happened. The only exception I could see would be if the cache is in that particular location for a very special and specific reason. In that case, the owner might want to personally contact the property manager, clear up whatever problem exists, get explicit permission, and document on the cache listing that "Permission for this cache was granted by Miss Susie Snowflake, Store Manager, on July 32nd, 2005".


As for the finder, getting contact information and following up on the problem, as RK did, is a very decent and highly responsible thing to do and reflects favorably on the pastime. When there's a problem you can help to remedy, even in a small way, by all means take ownership of it and see it through as best you can.

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I would think that it would be a requirment of cache approval that the cache planter supply some sort of proof of property owner permission when placed at a commercial site. Just to "C" everyone's "A"

While that sounds very laudable, it would be almost impossible to carry out in practice. How is a reviewer supposed to validate that the "proof" of permission is legitimate? The problem doesn't just apply to commercial establishments, anyway -- same issue applies to parks, forest preserves, and parking lot lampposts.


The reviewers do an excellent job, and I think they probably catch >95% of those caches that don't pass "the sniff test" (i.e., something doesn't smell quite right about it).

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To me, as it stands, all that mattered is that the damage, which a cacher was blamed for and threatened to be charged with vandalism for. The damage should be assessed by a cacher living in the area. If it was determined that damaged was done and still visible, contact with the management would have needed to be made, so that the damage could be fixed, and that is/was my sole purpose in posting. Just showing up with a bunch of cachers without determining damage or contacting the management would not have been my idea of an amicable resolution to the problem. That the cacher got permission or did not get permission was/is not my focus.


I am going to contact a person living in the area to double check the current status of the landscaping. I still think someone - like the cacher who hid the cache to begin with should step up, but I can not force people to care, and at least apologize and ask if there was any money spent on the landscaping as a result of the cache being there, and make arrangements for reimbursement.


On the fribee players - Frisbee player can cause damage, I suspect not the same kind of damage done by cachers, granted kids with malicious intent walking by could cause damage as well. Fingers can be pointed to anyone using the area. The fact is that a cache WAS placed there, and damage happened while the cache was there and being looked for. Personally, I don't care about the frisbee players or anyone else there who might or might not have caused damage or made damage worse. If a cache was there and the LIKELYHOOD of the landscape being damaged was a result of cachers, then we as a caching community should be willing to help make the place whole again.


These are my thoughts and Im sticking to them.

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