Valley News -

By Diane Sieker
Writer 

Illegal gates block access to roads, cause safety issues, residents say

 

Last updated 8/22/2018 at 3:14pm

Courtesy

This map of Anza shows the location of reported illegal gates which block public access, according to residents.

Several Anza residents and civic organizations are fighting with the county over the illegal blocking of several public roads and trails. The landowners are concerned and are seeking assistance with the removal of the heavy-duty gates and obstructions from public thoroughfares.

According to a letter the residents submitted to county offices May 30, Silver Saddle Court, Table Mountain Truck Trail, Elm Brush Trail and Tweedie Trail have the illegal gates installed within the public's right of way by a "few bold residents." The obstructions prevent access to the Pacific Crest Trail, where a hiker was injured and in need of assistance in March 2016. The gates delayed the hiker's rescue.

Resident John Klein wrote in an email, "Around 10 a.m., two Riverside County Sheriff's cars pulled up next to my door. They wanted to get on my neighbor's property, the one with all the greenhouses. Everything is fenced, and the road is blocked. I'm trying to get the road unblocked and have been working with the county and code enforcement. The officers said they were looking for a lost hiker."

But locked gates delayed the first responders and wasted valuable time, according to Klein. He said that the gates were installed by cannabis farmers to prevent unwanted traffic near their crops.

The concerned residents said the county needs to remove the gates, but county officials have not acted on the seven gates in question.

"Basically, the county's position is that when the county accepts roads and dedicates them for public travel, they feel it's not their obligation to remove obstructions that block public travel," Anza resident David Deuling said. "They are calling this a maintenance issue at the expense of public safety. Everyone besides the county says this definition is wrong and should be changed."

Riverside County Ordinance 460, Article II, Section 2.2, defined public access as: "A dedication to public use or to the county of Riverside to the required width for road purposes; a permanent written easement for road purposes to the required width from the state or federal government; an access road as defined in this ordinance that has been open to the public without posting for five years or more, provided adequate evidence thereof is submitted to and approved by the director of transportation; a dedication to a community services district to the required width for road."

The gates are located within parcel map 27741 as recorded with the county, and Riverside County approved the public road status of the area, according to the director of transportation's statement for parcel map 27741 which indicates that the county has accepted such dedicated roads on behalf of the public in 2004.

The residents' letter quoted the Public Assistance for Roadway Maintenance & Improvements, Page 1, which is dated July 1, 2016, "The county will intervene on behalf of the public to prevent the physical blockage of public travel." 

Civil Engineer Jeff Wilson said that "roads dedicated to the public are irrevocable and is reminding the county of their obligation to keep public roads open." 

Wilson also claims "maintenance" of such roads is a different issue.

"The above condition has gone on for the last three to five years and creates an issue of public safety," residents said in their May letter. "The illegal gates have and will continue act an impediment and potential delay for medical, fire and police services under such circumstances."

Julie Gerson of the Anza Borrego Foundation, Allison Renck of the Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council, Manager Anitra Kass of the Pacific Crest Trail Los Angeles California State Parks, the Trail Town Club, the High Country Conservancy, Redshank Rider's Club and a number of landowners in the area signed the letter in an effort to have the gates removed.

"Mainly we and others believe this is a public safety issue and that has already been confirmed," Dueling said.

At this time the gates remain, but property owners said they are not giving up and will continue to communicate with county offices in search of a solution.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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