Verizon Keep Spraying Our Sidewalks With The Same, Three, Permanent, Dots

David would like to know if Verizon Fios techs can’t afford glasses. Otherwise, why would it be necessary to spray paint their sidewalk three times within the past year? The dots are supposed to indicate where to dig up to install the vaunted “last mile” of information HOV lane, but it really seems like overkill. After all, it’s not like they need to be concerned about the dots deteriorating. “It never goes away,” David writes us. “Brushes, power washing, passage of time — nothing.”

The spray marks the route of the Fios wires, so the techs know where to dig when a customer requests a node connection.

David muses that the need to keep spraying in the same spot is to, “demonstrate that the wires buried under the sidewalk have not crawled away since the last time they graffitti’d the neighborhood..I understand the concept of imminent domain, and “all your sidewalks are belong to us” and all, but this is effed up.

“Surely, your readers have some ideas on how to shame these guys so they either (a) come clean the stuff, (b) switch to water-soluble paint (duh) or (c) both. Or maybe an address where we can go spray paint all
over their stuff.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. soulman901 says:

    Find one of their trucks and spray paint on it,
    Verizon Sucks!!!

  2. RedSox says:

    Try spray painting “We know.” over the same spot. That should do it.

  3. Buran says:

    Complain to the city. IBM got nailed for putting permanent paint on sidewalks as part of a Linux ad campaign. They had to pay for removal and stop the campaign.

    The city should be able to fine Verizon, and force them to pay for removal, and force them to use biodegradable paint in the future.

    Why can’t they use those little flags, though? The local gas company used those when a contractor surveyed infrastructure on my half of the block (locating water, gas, sewer) to replace the gas line that led into my house (someone called in gas smell, or their surveyors found a gas smell, I’m not sure which; it was never smellable from inside). When they were done, they left the little flags behind for quite awhile, but when someone finally pulled them out there were no permanent marks left behind.

  4. beavis88 says:

    If it would get me FIOS, I’d let them come spraypaint my driveway!

  5. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Probably just some random tech just doing his job. You really want to begrudge the guy his min. wage because he’s painting a sidewalk you don’t even own?

  6. axiomatic says:

    Yeah Verizon, PLEASE come put as many colored dots as you like in Northwest Houston TX. I’ll even bring you a cold crisp refreshing glass of lemonade right to the sidewalk if you will just deploy in Houston, TX soon.

  7. One morning I called to complain to my local city hall when Verizon killed my grass installing FiOS infrastructure thoughout our ‘hood. The city development director (or whatever his title was) was VERY sympathetic and he contacted Verizon on my behalf. New grass was planted later that day! I have posted my feelings about Time Warner and Verizon here in the past for reference: []

  8. RogueSophist says:

    By the by, the legal concept you’re referring to is eminent domain.

  9. qwickone says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: I dont think anyone has anything against the tech guy (except for maybe painting dots on the same spots), but mostly it’s the company itself. Why the hell are they using permanent paint?? And who cares if it’s not sidewalk the guy owns. It’s an eyesore! It’s probably two feet off his property line. The whole point is it’s ugly.

  10. @ceejeemcbeegee: No one’s saying someone should get fired over this. Just use different paint, the kind that will wash off. That shouldn’t be a problem if they are going to spray new dots anyway.

  11. stopNgoBeau says:

    It is supposed to be water soluable (sp?) but the fact is that they have to put the markers down anyone calls for a locate. It doesn’t even have to be Verizon doing the work. Its called the One Call system.

    In all states, if you are going to be performing any work that required digging, you are required to contact One Call. They then notify all service providers in that area (power, water, sewage, communications, gas, etc) for locates. Those companies then have a certain period of time that they are to make the marks. After that time passes, the person doing the work (maybe a contractor, or even a private resident putting in a mailbox post) may proceed.

    If they hit anything that wasn’t marked, its not their fault for hitting it.

    If they don’t request a locate from One Call, and they hit something, they could be fined $25,000 and be required to repair the problem, though that rarely happens.

    After the locates are performed, the locates are only good for a period of time, usually a week. So even if they marks are still there, which in this case they are, Verizon still has to perform a located. I could call for locates all year long, and I would have paint all around my house. Calling for a locate is free (the service companies find it in their best interest for you to not dig up their services).

    In the picture shown, we see red and orange marks. Red is for power, orange is for copper or fiber (hence Verizon). Other common colors are blue for water and yellow for gas.

    Typically, one company is contracted by all the service providers to do the locate work so that each company doens’t have to keep a locate crew.

    Before people blame Verizon for this, lets make sure its not a locate request, etc.

  12. awcrap says:

    Being a former surveyor’s assistant, marks like these are everywhere. And utility markers are made from permanent paint, because permanent paint is permanent. Nobody wants to come out to the same spot 6 months later, and start from scratch. Most of these markers just fade out of view in the midst of so much other visual pollution.

  13. stopNgoBeau says:

    Let me reiterate that is IS supposed to be water soluable. They should complain about that, but not that the paint is there. They are supposed to use paint that disappears after a few weeks.

  14. @beavis88: I agree.

  15. RandomHookup says:

    I like that the Gawker Artist ad is nearly color-coordinated to the dots. Of course, the ad will be gone after you read this, but I wanted to record it for posterity.

  16. HalOfBorg says:

    I know if they did this to me I’d be furious – though it might have something to do with the thousands of dollars worth of new concrete I have.

    If these dots are for techs coming soon – SPRAY THE GRASS!!! Who the hell uses permanent paint on SIDEWALKS????

  17. HalOfBorg says:

    FYI – Here’s my sidewalk. :)

    look Ma – no dots!! :)


  18. Major-General says:

    @RogueSophist: Perhaps not, remember Kelo vs. New Haven?

  19. shiftless says:

    I am praying for those dots to show up in my area. More competition anytime!

  20. Black Bellamy says:

    You should get some yellow and orange spray paint and make those dots into swastikas and penises.

  21. calvinneal says:

    I am employed by another TELCO. Our stakers use water soluble paint The marks are telling contractors there is a joint buried run under the sidewalk. The orange marks may indicate either cable tv or telephone. The area under the sidewalk is a public easement. Public saftey issues are involved if some contractor wacks the 220 electrical run under the sidewalks.

  22. Buran says:

    @Papa Midnight: I thought we were supposed to hate Verizon around these parts.

  23. KristinaBeana says:

    We got the lovely dots and lines on our grass, streets, parking pads and sidewalks last summer. Then the local sub-contractor never came to finish the work. He stopped (or quit, or fired or whatever) two neighborhoods before ours. Now we are sad – no FIOS, just spray paint.

    Oh, and it is not always One Call – in our area it is Miss Utility.

  24. enm4r says:

    @Buran: Only Verizon Wireless.

  25. Buran says:

    @stopNgoBeau: It doesn’t matter who does it if it’s permanent marking. It should not resist all attempts to remove it.

  26. Buran says:

    @awcrap: And yet, normal surveyors don’t put their junk on every single square of a sidewalk as in the picture…

  27. axiomatic says:

    I have a better idea.


    What do we think it will say? “V3r|z0n |$ t3h l33t hAx0rz!” or “Data flows THIS> way!”

    You can do better:

  28. killavanilla says:

    even better:
    go out with a spray can and mark up every sidewalk with dots.
    With dots everywhere, they will have to consider a new, less permanent way to mark.
    Of course, please don’t do this in my neighborhood! :-)

  29. Chicago7 says:


    I doubt if it’s a minimum wage job. It might not pay $40/hr, but I’ll bet you can live on it.

  30. spinachdip says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: You don’t own the sidewalk, but you are, in a way, renting the property – when the sanitation department fines you for not clearing snow, leaves, or other debris off the sidewalk, “Well, I don’t own the sidewalk” won’t get you far.

  31. homerjay says:

    Note to Verizon: I offer you my driveway, walkway, and vinyl siding on which to test new marking materials. Just get your ass out here and hook me up with FIOS!

    Today was the big day they signed the contract with my town! Soon I will be riding the crimson wave!

    Wait, thats not what I meant…

  32. SoCalGNX says:

    If you do not find this attractive, call Edison. They will paint something on your curb in red spray paint using a design that can only be made by a former (?) tagger. It will serve no purpose and they will not acknowledge any request to remove it or at least make it look professional.

  33. FromThisSoil says:

    It’s weird that Verizon would be painting red dots on the ground. Red is mandated for underground electrical. Orange is mandated for underground communications (cable, telephone, etc.).

    In all reality, if these dots are to determine where the FIOS is going, it should be done in white paint, which is excavation limits.

  34. karmaghost says:

    I know people that live in an area where, if your sidewalk is old and needs replacing, you have to pay for it and do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you. I can’t imagine how angry those people would be in an area like that.

  35. bwpopper says:

    I used to work as a locator for a contract service who had Verizon, as well as three other telephone companies, two electric companies, two cable companies, and a gas company as customers. The areas my co-workers and I covered were sometimes as large as two or three counties, and we would regularly have to mark twenty to thirty work sites in a day. These sites could be as small as a 20 by 50 foot area in someone’s yard that was to be turned into a garden or as large as a fifteen mile stretch of highway from right-of-way to right-of-way with four or five of our customers having (sometimes multiple) lines in the area. Needless to say, some of us were spending long stretches of time in a single work site and did not have the luxury of being able to inspect how our work fit in with the motif of the landscaping.

    Our company was using water-soluble paint for a long time, but then we switched to solvent-based paint for the durability factor. It is simply easier for the locator to actually attach his equipment to the utility lines once and mark with a longer lasting paint in case the contractor doesn’t get out to the job site, due to weather or other circumstances, before the dig ticket expires. If he had to make a return trip, he could simply refresh the paint marks and save valuable time.

    All of this marking and re-marking is necessary and required by law, even if it bothers your sense of aesthetics. You should be thanking whoever is marking your sidewalk for helping to keep your power and telephone (those were the utilities marked in the pictures) on so you could write your complaint letter.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can legally do to stop a locator from marking on the city sidewalk in front of your home. You don’t really own that space, even though you are required to maintain it, and if the utility lines are running directly under the sidewalk, the marks must be placed directly over the route. You really have no say in the matter, and you are paying for the aggravation you are getting in the miscellaneous fees on your utility bills each month. That always brought me a smile every time someone berated me for doing my job.

    Trust me when I tell you that the majority of utility locators in the U.S. are not trying to deface your “property” for their own pleasure. These folks are part of a system that you have barely a basic understanding of and have probably never really thought about until now. They are just trying to keep utilty services on for an adoring and appreciative customer base. :-P

  36. Plasmafire says:

    You could try some of that new graffiti remover or paint stripper available in hardware stores.

    Otherwise paint thinner or Xylol (warning: they have dangerous fumes)and a firm bristle brush ought to loosen it up.

    The best bet might be getting a pressure washer that has a rating of over 2700psi, and blast away at it from as close as possible. (500 psi pressure washers won’t cut it)

    Sometimes you get lucky and some degreaser will help lift the paint spots up, but I doubt it will work in this case.

  37. juri squared says:

    @KristinaBeana: In Illinois it’s called JULIE. I know it stands for Joint Utility somethingorother, but all I know is that my name is Julie and therefore the PSAs that say “Call JULIE before you dig!” crack me up.

  38. stopNgoBeau says:

    @Buran: I totally agree. The locate is only good for a week, so the paint should also last only a week. No reason to make it permanent.

  39. Johann says:

    Last week I came how from work to find dotted lines and little flags across the back of my backyard to the utility boxes, and then up to my house.

    Looking it over, I realized they had marked up my yard and only my yard. Curious about what was going on, I called the locating service (their phone number was on the flags.) It turns out that someone was putting up a fence. That person was on my street — exactly one block east of me. Whoops. Nice going guys. I wonder who’s liable if the locating guys mark up the wrong location and then the workers cut the power lines?

    But, uh, hey, free flags.

  40. BenMitchell says:


    This sounds like a fair trade to me :)

  41. jeffjohnvol says:

    Just follow the tech with the same color paint. When he paints a dot. Paint another one 3 feet on either side. Then watch his consternation, lol.

  42. Raanne says:

    in michigan its “MISS DIG”

    “before you dig, call MISS DIG”

    and stop complaining – who cares if there is paint on your sidewalk – its serving a purpose.

  43. jasonkohles says:

    @JOHANN: If you call and they come out and mark the wrong area and you hit something that wasn’t marked, then you aren’t responsible. This is the incentive to get people to actually use the service. Different areas deal with who _is_ responsible in those cases differently, but it isn’t the person doing the digging.

    Also, it happens all the time, I used to be a Volunteeer Firefighter and went to a couple of gas leak calls where the marking company screwed up the marks and the digger hit the gas line anyway. One of the other volunteers in the area was a plumber by day, and had one particularly memorable story of a gas-line fire that was caused by the marking company coming out, holding the map upside down, and marking the wrong side of the street.

  44. DH405 says:

    If you think thats bad, I was staying in my vacation house on the lake in the middle of NOWHERE one weekend. A local church had people going door-to-door along an old rural road. Someone came down the 1/4 mile driveway, knocked on my door, and woke me up on Saturday morning. After telling them that I wasn’t interested, they then spraypainted an arrow on my driveway up towards the road.

    The Christians tagged my driveway. WTF?

  45. elkhunter says:

    The exact thing happened to me. They sprayed a ton of paint all over the driveway and up the right side of my house and ended up running the line on the left side. 6 months later there is still red lines all over the place. The FIOS is awesome . I just dont like living in a house that looks like it got tagged.

  46. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    Maybe the guy who paints the dots is just a little nuts and keeps putting down markings in hopes that the mothership will know where to land.

  47. MotownMan says:

    A simple splash of gasoline or turpentine (better) will get it off with light-to-moderate brushing — use an old kitchen or bathroom brush that you’re going to toss, unless you have a steel brush. Old toothbrushes also do the trick, though takes bit longer. Then just hose it all off. Paint spots gone!

    I’ve gotten rid of all the paint markings on my sidewalks — especially those from our city, which looks for even the smallest crack and then forces me to pay for a replacement sidewalk square.

    The freakin idiots who mark up the walks could just as easily do it on the curbs (if you have them). Since I legally own half of my sidewalk — and have to pay 100% for any repairs or replacement — I can do what I darn well please.

    Back to the gasoline, for a moment. I actually have used it to clean all my sidewalk blocks and make them look newer. I’ve also used silicone spray on my walkpath up to the front door to keep it looking newer, longer.

  48. selianth says:

    In Massachusetts (and I think the rest of New England) it’s 1-888-DIG SAFE.

  49. forever_knight says:

    in Missouri, it is 1-877-ASS-MASTER

  50. lestat730 says:

    That is just wrong, it does nothing but make the area look bad. There should be laws against this….

  51. jcabraham says:

    It’s “eminent” domain. But yes, they are tools.

  52. paleck says:

    In Utah it is locator is called Blue stakes and can be reached at 800.662.4111 or 811. Their site [] also seems to have a lot of information including links to state laws and some type of utility locator map, that I haven’t touched yet.