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An out-of-control ticktacktoe game

The mysterious Xs on Highway 101 in Encinitas

Dear Matthew Alice: A large, white, official-looking X has been painted in the bike lane on northbound 101 in Encinitas, in front of D.B. Hacker’s restaurant (101 North Highway 101). Who painted this X, and what are its implications? . — A.G., North County

The ominous X is an aerial marker. It was painted by a surveyor, who also pounded that shiny nail into the asphalt at the intersection of the two arms of the X. Somewhere in the vicinity (maybe within blocks, maybe within acres or miles) are three more Xs with nails, and the four Xs mark the corners of a square or rectangular chunk of land. The nails indicate points of known elevation and map coordinates.

When the first surveyor’s done, an aerial surveyor hops in a plane and takes a series of overlapping photos of the land chunk in question, making sure the Xs are included. When the photos are assembled, all the landmarks can be located correctly and their elevations described using the Xs as reference points. (I’ll spare you the details. It’s complicated.) After that, who knows. Sometimes the surveys are used for mapping. Sometimes they mean we’re in for a new strip mall or housing development. Around the corner from Hackers, on Second, west of Highway 101, you’ll see two more bike-lane Xs from two other projects. The county is lousy with them, like an out-of-control ticktacktoe game.

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Dear Matthew Alice: A large, white, official-looking X has been painted in the bike lane on northbound 101 in Encinitas, in front of D.B. Hacker’s restaurant (101 North Highway 101). Who painted this X, and what are its implications? . — A.G., North County

The ominous X is an aerial marker. It was painted by a surveyor, who also pounded that shiny nail into the asphalt at the intersection of the two arms of the X. Somewhere in the vicinity (maybe within blocks, maybe within acres or miles) are three more Xs with nails, and the four Xs mark the corners of a square or rectangular chunk of land. The nails indicate points of known elevation and map coordinates.

When the first surveyor’s done, an aerial surveyor hops in a plane and takes a series of overlapping photos of the land chunk in question, making sure the Xs are included. When the photos are assembled, all the landmarks can be located correctly and their elevations described using the Xs as reference points. (I’ll spare you the details. It’s complicated.) After that, who knows. Sometimes the surveys are used for mapping. Sometimes they mean we’re in for a new strip mall or housing development. Around the corner from Hackers, on Second, west of Highway 101, you’ll see two more bike-lane Xs from two other projects. The county is lousy with them, like an out-of-control ticktacktoe game.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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