Interesting story about home automobile gasoline filling stations in residential property

Interesting story just developed over the past two months that I figured I'd let you know about in case it happens to you.
For about five years, I've been in an unfriendly situation with my
nearest neighbor (over past events with the kids getting into trouble and barking loose dogs).
Then, the past two months, no less than 5 inspectors came to my property to check for hazardous conditions due to 'anonymous' complaints.
The first was the fire marshall who was told I had 'large gasoline tanks' on the property. Turns out, fuel containers of fewer than 60 gallons each are exempt from fire marshall permit needs (a permit application alone, he told me, is over $750).
That didn't strike me as too weird until the zoning guys dropped by. They said someone complained about an improper 'accessory structure' used to house gasoline. Turns out any accessory structure that is six feet from the property line meets zoning requirements, so he left me alone.
It started to get weirder when the building inspector showed up for the same reason (don't these guys talk to each other?). He too left empty handed. Apparently an accessory structure only needs a permit if it's greater than 120 square feet and if its highest point is greater than 14 feet tall.
I knew someone had it in for me when, a month later, my wife called me at work to say there was a guy snooping around the property without even knocking on the door! She called the police and then called me!
Turns out, it was a hazmat inspector who had received a complaint about a 'primary container' leaking with no 'secondary containment' in place. He left before I arrived but told my wife that there was nothing he could or would do unless it was actually leaking as there are no storage regulations for private property other than you can't actually leak gasoline into the ground.
He did suggest a 'secondary containment' of an oblong horse trough though.
I rushed home early from work to find both the police and yet another inspector talking to my wife in the back yard. This inspector was from the air quality management district. He said that organic fuel gas tanks less than 260 gallons were exempt from vapor recovery & pressure venting requirements, so he left before the cop finished asking questions.
The cop seemed amused by the whole story - but he asked a LOT of questions about the gas cans lying around.
Turns out that you can't transport anything heavier (yes, heavier) than 500 pounds of "fuel" in a vehicle (not counting the vehicle's gasoline tank itself) which he said was 62 gallons of gasoline (#11160 title 13 California Code of Regulations & 32000.5a California Vehicle Code). He also mentioned that 172.504c Title 49 of the code of Federal Regulations requires a placard if you carry more than 1,000 pounds of gasoline.
Since I'm only carrying about 50 gallons, I'm exempt from that too!
All in all, an interesting story. Now, I do have a sense of humor so I have to figure out how I can get my neighbor back.
Have you ever engaged in these type of neighborly wars? Any good ideas?
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worker bee wrote:

Hmmm 60 gal. of gas is more tan a big drumful. How come so much gas. in the yard? Gas blend changes from season to season.
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On Fri, 02 Dec 2011 20:45:40 -0700, Tony Hwang wrote:

Actually, it's a 55 gallon drum and I don't seem to get even 50 gallons into it, strangely enough. But I generally fill it before it goes empty so I haven't filled it from empty since it was new a few years ago.
I use the gas up within two months (generally a month to a month and a half is when I refill) so I really doubt the seasons matter all that much - especially in California where there is really only one, maybe two at most, seasons anyway. There is a cool dry summer and a slightly cooler wetter winter - neither of which has a temperature swing you can't get in a single day in most other northern parts of the country.
My gas tank is about 20 gallons. The wife's tank is about 20 gallons. The bike is about 5 gallons. And the lawn mower and a half dozen other engines around the yard takes another 5 gallons.
So, a single fillup (which in practice rarely happens) will empty out the 55-gallon drum. I don't see how this amount is any different than most of you out there.
Don't you guys have a car for you, and one for the wife, and maybe a secondary vehicle? Don't you have lawn mowers? Don't you have other yard equipment? I would think 55 gallons is the bare minimum since all it does is fill the tanks just once.
What I 'really' want is TWO 55 gallon drums. Actually, I'd love a 200 gallon tank - but once you get over 60 gallons, you start getting into fire marshall permits & transportation permits and anything over 260 gallons for delivered fuel gets you into air resource board requirements.
So, 55 gallons seems a bare minimum, at least to me. Maybe you guys go to the gas station a lot more than I do? Or you and your wife drive the same car?
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I suspect that with someone who is doing what you say you're doing there is probably plenty more you're doing to piss off your neighbor. I've known a lot of people and seen a lot of things, but I never saw anyone trucking gasoline home in 5 gallon cans and maintaining a 55 gallon drum in their backyard to routinely fill their autos.
As for being the same as using a gas station, it's not. Gas stations have been required to have vapor recovery systems for years now. That's why the nozzles now have a rubber covering that must be pressed against the tank for the fuel to flow. As the fuel flows in the system sucks up the vapors that come out as the air is displaced. It prevents those vapors from getting into the air. Is what you're doing a major environmental deal? No, but is sure doesn't help and it sounds pretty loony to me.
You also don't say exactly how close the neighbor's house is to where you're storing and pumping this gasoline. He sees you screwing around with at least a 55 gallon drum of gasoline, filling it, pumping it, etc. He doesn't know exactly how much you have or what you are doing. He does know that it sure is strange and I think he had every right to call authorities to make sure it complies with safety regulations.
I also suspect there is more to this story than that you use the gasoline to fill your personal automobiles. More likely it's being used for some business, which of course would be a zoning violation.
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On Sat, 03 Dec 2011 05:21:08 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I don't disagree we're not at all on speaking terms - but that has nothing to do with the convenience of filling up at home.

I have no idea how many 'other' people prefer the convenience of filling up at home. My friends astounded me when I told them because they considered it 'additional work'. I consider it less work. Especially for my wife who hates going to the filling station.
I guess it's all in your perspective of 'work' or 'effort'. To me, it's trivial to fill up once every six weeks (or so). It just takes a bit longer to pull the cans out of the pickup bed and fill them - but otherwise, it's less work for my wife (for sure) and just a bit less work for me (since I only have to fill up away from home once every six weeks).

Gas stations fill up thousands of cars a month. I fill up only a few times a month. Big difference in the need for vapor recovery nozzles.
However, I 'could' add that little rubber vapor recovery boot to the nozzle if I wanted to pay the extra hundred dollars for it. But, not only is there no law saying I must do so, it's my understanding that there are still states out there that don't even bother for their thousands of gas stations.
I may be wrong though. Are there still states that do NOT have a rubber boot around every gas pump nozzle?

I realize you're being sincere - and - I know you're a major contributor to the alt.home.repair newsgroup, so I respect your opinion. And, I wish to debate that, serious, with you.
Bear in mind, ALL my friends think the same way as you do, so I do understand that you may think it loony. However, I don't. I really don't.
I liken it, albeit I'm perhaps pushing the analogies a bit to far to why you have a well to deliver water to your faucet instead of driving down to the village well to carry a bucket home every day.
Or, why you buy canned food so you don't have to go to the village to buy fresh food every day.
Or why you stock up on batteries in case the power goes out and the generator doesn't kick in during a power outage - instead of just driving to the center of town to pick up batteries during open hours.
Or why you have more than one set of clothes instead of just washing the same pair every day.
Or why you bring more firewood into the house than you need so you don't have to go outside every time you run out of wood in the fireplace.
To me, it's the same concept. I do realize that most of you don't think this way, but some of you don't have solar panels, a whole-house electric generator, 1,500 gallons of propane tanks, multiple wells, a septic system, solar pool heaters, etc., for the 'utilities' of your house either.
For me, it's simply one more household utility that needs to be replenished every six weeks. (I wish I could go longer but regulatory problems kick in once you reach tank sizes of 60 and 260 gallons).
Do you at least see a 'hint' of my thinking (if not the convenience, per se)?

Good question. He's above me, on an open hillside. No house here is closer than a few hundred yards apart, some are miles apart. Most are, I'd say, about a quarter mile apart.
However, the lands abut. So, at the property line, he's only an inch away, so to speak. He 'can' see my tanks just as I can see his clothes hanging on the line (I, for one, use a gas dryer for the sheer convenience of drying my clothes even though we have an absolute abundance of sunlight).

I asked the cop about my suspicions. The cop shrugged and said there was nothing I could do since it was circumstantial. He said there's nothing wrong with someone complaining to the authorities.
And, to tell the truth, he's right. I only 'suspect' it's the neighbor (who else 'could' it be?).
But, I don't have any proof whatsoever. They all said it was an anonymous complaint. Plus, they've all visited in the past two months, and all left saying things were in order. One even said I used a lot of common sense in my setup, which met OSHA standards for commercial storage facilities, he said, except for the secondary containment horse trough - which I will add as soon as I find one locally.

You're not the first to suggest that - so I don't fault you.
I can only assure you that I 'wish' I had a second business making money for me on the side! :) I have lots of very hilly unusable land that I wish I could figure out a way to make money off of - but a single 55 gallon drum near the driveway isn't going to make me a whole lot of money in any way that I can envision as a business. :)
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On 12/3/2011 9:43 AM, worker bee wrote:

You are beginning to sound like a troll. Typically when numerous people give you the same answer they may just be right. I have never heard of anyone doing what you are doing and it is definitely more effort. You are just rationalizing that it isn't.

It is pretty tedious to fuel a car at a gas station and it does waste a few minutes each week. So you could hop into the wife's car and go to the gas station and fill it up instead of filing multiple small cans and hauling them home and dumping them into a bigger container and then filling your wife's car right?

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Sorry, but no. I don't see any convenience in trucking home 5 gallon cans of gasoline, emptying it into a 55 gallon drum, pumping it out, etc.. That compared to just driving to a gas station like the rest of us. Sounds like an irrational obsession to me.
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Why drive to the gasoline station? Just stop at one that's on the way or on the way back.
IMO the reason to have that much gasoline on hand is to A) smooth out price spikes. B) to get through some sort of disaster, power outage, etc.
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No matter how you try to spin it, you are costing yourself a whole bunch of extra effort and lots of time just to avoid making a few stops at a gas station. Bottom line is your reasoning is way _out there_ and you arent saving yourself anything.
Your friends are correct, you are loony if what you posted is the whole story.
Harry K
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People buy canned food so they have food that will stay fresh longer, and so they can have a supply on hand just in case the supply of fresh food is interrupted during some sort of weather related or other emergency so they can continue to eat once the few days supply of fresh food they have on hand runs out or can not be properly stored and has to be disposed of...
Grocery stores are very nice concepts, however when they have no electrical power they are unable to sell you any of the foodstuffs they keep locked up inside...
"Stock up on batteries" you mean buying a package of batteries that has 40 AA batteries in it... LOL... By your logic and the way you purchase and store gasoline you would be buying cases of batteries once a year and storing them -- that is not normal...
Normal people do not buy batteries two at a time, but they also do not buy cases or pallets of them to keep a hoard of batteries on hand either...
Normal people have more than one set of clothes because if they do not have more than one set of clothes everyone around them will look at them oddly even if those clothes are washed every night before they are worn the next day...
Normal people do not wear the same exact clothes every day -- this is why when children go through the phase of wanting to do it parents try to discourage them out of it...
The firewood analogy seems to be the closest one to the point you are trying to make -- although in a storm where you would be needing the firewood to heat your house by the fireplace would you want to have to go outside and get wet or cold in order to obtain more fuel? Nope...
Most people keep the woodpile out and away from their house and will bring some additional wood inside when they are warned of some extreme weather or cold coming soon so they don't have to brave the elements to keep warm during the main event...

Wrong, there is something wrong with someone using the authorities to harass and annoy other people... If you feel it was your neighbor, ask the authorities just what format these anonymous complaints were received in: if written letters that is excellent, you have to touch a piece of paper to mail it and there will be fingerprints on it all you need to do is obtain a sample from the suspected neighbor and subpoena the original complaint from the authorities and hire a forensics lab to do the comparison for you; if it was received via the telephone, excellent, all you need to do is subpoena the telephone records of your neighbors which will indicate the calls to each of the inspectors who paid you a visit, unless they were devious enough to procure a pre-paid cell phone to use in this dastardly plot against you, then it becomes something that law enforcement needs to investigate because of the sheer number of subpoenas that are involved to piece things together; if it was an e-mail, those are trickier, but a subpoena to the ISP or owner of the domain name in the e-mail address will result in the name of the user of that account...

Again, there would be a pattern of calls made by one person/telephone to all of those inspectors that would not be random -- especially if the first visit didn't result in what the caller was looking for and they called other additional inspectors from more agencies after that took place...
That sort of thing is using the government to harass and annoy...
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More nonsense. A neighbor sees someone storing large quantities of gasoline near his home. The guy has a 55 gallon drum, a pump and is regularly transporting around 10 five gallon cans of gasoline. He doesn't know exactly what the neighbor is doing, but from what he can see there is reasonable cause for concern. So the neighbor calls code and environmental officials to check it out.
I'd like to see a judge that is going to decide that constitutes harrassment. If the neighbor had a pattern of false accusations, contacting the authorities on various issues that were bogus, then he would have a case for harrassment. But all we have here is a neighbor that is concerned about storing large quantities of gas in a residential neighborhood where it could impact his home. He calls the authorities and says "My neighbor is storing what looks like large quantities of gasoline on his property. He has a 55 gallon drum, he's pumping it, etc. Is that allowed in a residential neighborhood? Can you check it out?" I might have done the same thing. It's all true and doesn't come close to harrassment.
As for getting fingerprints off documents and forensic labs for this kind of nonsense, you've been watching too much TV.

Sure, I can see a judge granting a subpoena for someone's private phone records for a nonsense case like this. Get real.

Oh yeah, I can see the DA getting all over this. Mr. DA, I've been storing large quantities of gas on my property, pumping it, cans etc. Some unknown neighbor called code and environmental officials. That's harrassment! I want you to subpoena my neighbors phone records, cell records, etc. Maybe they should waterboard them too. The DA would throw you out of his office.

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So, if I call code enforcement for the town and they say it doesn't violate zoning, then I can't also call the fire marshall to see if there is a fire safety issue? I can't call the EPA to see if there is an environmental restriction that could cover what he is doing?

uoted text -

Only if it's extensive or the allegations are lies. All I see here is a neighbor with a legitimate safety concern who ran the concern through multiple agency that have legitimate involvement with the issue.
As for the OP, as some folks have suggested, he should make his insurance company aware of what he's doing. I'd send them a letter. And even then, how about this. Some vandal decides to use one of his 5 gallon cans to set the whole thing on fire. The resulting fire kills two people living next door and leaves a third disabled for life. Unlike your subpoena for harrassment, that case is real. And how long do you think it would take a jury to decide that the OP was responsible for a whole host of reasons. Everything from maintaining an extreme hazard on his property, to no properly securing it, etc? And when they get a $10 million judgement, then what?
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Or buying _industrial use_ fuel at less tax rate than regular gas. Farmers get a huge break that way but it is very expensive to be caught using it for non-farm purposes. That is why the diesel is dyed.
Harry K
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I suspect it's a neighbor who thinks everyone should live the same as everyone else and is using the mechanisms of the government to harass the OP into conforming.

I doubt it. The OP would likely know exactly what he had done to anger a neighbor if he did anything that crossed over the (property) line.
If it's being used for a business... so what? If he's not making noise or emmitting noxious fumes/oders what difference does it make?
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True as to the normal amount of vehicls and gas but we do it the sensible way and don't waste a bunch of time schlepping cans around.
Harry K
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On Fri, 02 Dec 2011 23:25:05 -0500, Home Guy wrote:

:)
Cigarettes don't light liquid gasoline like they do in the movies, simply because a cigarette is about 475°F (plus or minus 25°F) while the ignition temperature of liquid gasoline is just slightly above that at around 500°F. So, of course a very hot cigarette 'could' ignite liquid gasoline - but not one thrown over the fence at me by my neighbor! :)
Fire is, of course, the biggest realistic danger.
Everyone manages that risk daily - for example, a one-car garage has roughly 20 gallons of gasoline in it in metal or plastic gas tanks; a two car garage has about 40, and a three-car garage has about 60 gallons of gasoline in them all the time. It's way more dangerous to have gasoline in a garage than outside, in a very airy structure to keep sun and water off the equipment.
My gasoline is kept outside, in a very well ventilated shed (it's almost not a shed, it's that well ventilated). Gas fumes in and of themselves are not flammable but when mixed with air, then of course, they're highly flammable in the right concentration near the floor of any enclosure.
The biggest danger is static electricity igniting fumes.
This can happen while fueling the vehicles at roughly 15 gallons per minute from the automatic-shut-off 1/4 HP 12VDC electric fuel transfer pump. To ward that off, the setup is well grounded, of course, with two copper rods (for redundancy), and a 10BC fire extinguisher is always nearby, just in case.
But a home filling station is no more dangerous than a commercial gasoline filling station is, and, in fact, less dangerous if the puny amounts of gasoline (55 gallons) are taken into account.
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Cigarettes temp changes with air. If it's tossed, temp spikes.
Greg
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On Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:01:09 -0500, Home Guy wrote:

I have 10 five-gallon Blitz gasoline containers & a 55 gallon drum where I pour them into, about once a month or so (as needed). So most of the time the 10 red cans are empty (caps loose, open to the atmosphere) and the 55-gallon drum is how I dispense gasoline to two vehicles with a gasoline pump.
The neighbor can see into my back yard, as I can see into his as there are few surrounding trees - only small shrubs which afford no great means of privacy unfortunately.

Once a month or so, I fill the 10 5-gallon portable gasoline containers at a filling station and use them to refill the 55-gallon drum. Other than that, they don't 'move' around my property.

No way would there be an odor. There is way too much wind for that. Plus there are no vapors to speak of that one could smell. They're all closed containers when full. However, the neighbor 'can' see the whole operation from where he sits as he is slightly elevated over me and there are scant foliage to hide my perfectly legal activities.

No. I just fill my vehicles as needed. It takes about four to eight weeks (average might be about six, but it varies) to empty the 55-gallon drum, which necessitates a refill.

No. Just your average tools. Riding mower. 2-stroke blower. Stile chain saw. Four-bladed edger & cultivator. Weed trimmer. 2-inch wood chipper. Just the normal stuff. Why do you ask?

One motorcycle. Two cars. A half dozen regular yard engines. Normal stuff. But they all use gasoline to the tune of roughly fifteen or so gallons a week (give or take a few).
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On 3/12/2011 9:15 p.m., worker bee wrote:

Why can't you fill your car at the gas station like everybody else???.
At the moment the gas goes to the 5 gallon tank ( 10 times) to the 55 gallon drum (10 times) then to the car. Why all the stuffing around ??? Do it once!!!
If you want to upset your neighbor order him a dozen piazza or a load of shingle.
--
Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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On Sat, 03 Dec 2011 23:35:44 +1300, bugalugs wrote:

Other than the unexpected inspector visits, it's just so very much easier to fill up once every two months at the filling station.
It's all about the sheer convenience of gassing up at home.
On a different scale, it's the same reason you get water out of the tap, instead of bringing a bucket to the village well every time you need a drink.
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On 12/3/2011 9:02 AM, worker bee wrote:

I would have to agree with you. I never understood the charm of just being able to pull into a gas station and buy gasoline on demand and let others deal with transporting and storing it. And even worse there are three local cash only stations that charge less and pump it for you...

Not at all, you said you go to a gas station to get a flammable liquid and put it in containers which you transport home and dump into another container which you then transfer again. How exactly is that more convenient than pulling into a gas station and saying "fill it up".
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