How do businesses get permits to install utility infrastructure?

linux.poet

Active member
Sep 26, 2023
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Right now a group of my friends are considering a business idea that would involve installing pneumatic tubes in a commercial building that would extend for tens of miles to places where people could drop off items and pick them up.

Pneumatic tubes are centuries-old technology, reference: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_pneumatic_post I suspect that there are already regulations about them on the books in the United States somewhere.

How much regulatory trouble are my friends getting themselves into?
 
Location
Escondido, California, United States
I did some research and found that you will be required to file a few permits. Those permits likely will be a standard construction permit, but you may also need to get a mechanical permit as well. I'm also reading that you may need to have a seller’s permit (if these items are sold), and a utility encroachment permit.

Also if said building happens to have an HVAC system, you may have to make changes there to accommodate the use of pneumatic tubes. There seems to be a lot more that goes into it, so I would reach out to your local contractor or your local building department and see what permits and work are required to set this all up.

Another thing of note, is that with pneumatic tubes they are classified as a elevator system, so you might have to comply with the California Elevator Safety Construction Code as well.

These sites might give you more answers:
For the HVAC info - https://www.energy.ca.gov/sites/def...hapter 4 - Building HVAC Requirements_ADA.pdf

Basic permits for LA:

This is where I read about pneumatic elevators:
 
Remember that tunnel that Elon Musk wanted to build between California and Las Vegas? I wonder if that's possible with people instead of cars. If it is, the question would then be whether you need a permit to dig and build that kind of system under undeveloped land. Like a desert.
 
I wonder if that's possible with people instead of cars.
I don't think anyone is planning to walk or bike from Vegas to California any time soon, as that distance is just too long, and if so, why would they need a tunnel? It's actually healthier, up to a point, to ride or walk in the sunlight, as it's better for your brain.
 
Remember that tunnel that Elon Musk wanted to build between California and Las Vegas? I wonder if that's possible with people instead of cars. If it is, the question would then be whether you need a permit to dig and build that kind of system under undeveloped land. Like a desert.

Interesting thought, @Seven Out. Elon Musk's hyperloop - which is what you're referring to - is actually the same concept that @linux.poet has in mind, but for people rather than products. Hyperloop relies on pneumatic tubes to propel passenger pods at ultra-high speeds, much the same way that pneumatic tube systems have historically been used to transport small parcels. In fact, this article characterizes hyperloop as being the state-of-the-art in pneumatic tube transport, stating that "we are living through the fifth era of pneumatic tube transportation dreams, which are generally referred to these days as Hyperloops."

As far as permitting goes, the advantages of hyperloop transport over surface transport are obvious. You have a lot fewer land use conflicts to resolve, environmental studies to complete, and NIMBYs to fight in court when all your infrastructure is 50 feet underground (that's the depth I saw quoted by Elon Musk in one article). These problems are highlighted by California's flailing high-speed rail initiative, which has experienced significant delays and budget overruns in large part due to environmental laws (California Environmental Quality Act, among other) and other complex issues involved with putting down new track through highly populated areas (e.g., land acquisition and relocating utilities).
 

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