Restore the Delta (RTD) today said two weeks have passed without an answer to Local Agencies of the North Delta’s (LAND) demand for the legal authority Caltrans relies upon to confiscate signs. Moreover, Caltrans has indicated that it will take two additional weeks for them to pull together a response to a public records act request regarding who ordered the confiscation of the signs.
RTD also reports that they continue to hear from supporters that Caltrans has also confiscated signs from county roads which they do not maintain, and that scenic highways signs previously posted by the State on Hwy 160 have also been confiscated. “It is as if Caltrans is attempting to erase the Delta’s identity through its sign confiscation efforts,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla.
“Restore the Delta rejects Caltrans’ assertion that the signs are illegal. We renew our call upon Gov. Brown to stop using Caltrans to silence critics of his proposed Peripheral Tunnels, and to order Caltrans crews to cease removing the signs from private property. It’s been two weeks since we demanded that Caltrans cease trampling private property and free speech rights,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “Now, they say they need two more weeks to get their story straight.”
Here are Caltrans’ various explanations to date:
- The signs violate the Outdoor Advertising Act and must be 660 feet from the roadway. Caltrans told a fifth-generation Delta farmer they would fine him $10,000 if he replaces the sign.
- The signs violate Caltrans right of way and must be 14 feet from the roadway. Caltrans apparently feels the 2 x 3 foot signs are a threat to public safety.
- It was all a “misunderstanding.” How is trampling on someone’s property and confiscating their sign a “misunderstanding”?
“Caltrans did not follow the required process about notifying people to move signs if Caltrans believed they were not located properly.
“Caltrans does not enforce these same requirements up and down Hwy 99, H146, and I-5, where the water-takers post signs about wanting even more water at the expense of the Delta. They do not enforce the same sign posting laws in on Hwy 1 in Marin County and I-5 in Shasta County. The law is not enforced equally throughout the state — one standard for the Delta, one standard for mega growers in Westlands, Semitropic and Kern County water districts.
“This unequal treatment of Delta residents under the law mirrors how water quality and quantity laws for the Delta are ignored by the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Water Resources, and the Delta Stewardship Council — all to benefit Westside San Joaquin Valley mega-growers.
“Who decided that our signs needed to be confiscated? Is the Delta now fully under the ‘control’ of the State of California that they can dictate speech rights to private land and business owners?” said Barrigan-Parrilla.