The Ukiah Daily Journal
Failed culvert not state's job
A culvert that failed under heavy rains Dec. 30, blocking access to an RV park where more than 50 people live near Willits, is not the responsibility of the state, officials from Mendocino County and the California Department of Transportation reported this week.
In a press release answering “Frequently Asked Questions” earlier this week, county officials clarified the “property line boundaries” at the site of the sinkhole near Highway 101 by explaining: “on Jan. 12, county staff noticed discrepancies in the boundary lines of the park and state property (and) reached out to Caltrans to request boundary line clarifications. Caltrans subsequently sent out a surveyor to evaluate the boundary lines, and the results of this evaluation were provided to the county on Jan. 25. Pursuant to these survey results, it was discovered that a portion of the RV park has encroached onto state property.”
When asked to respond to the RV park owner's assertion that the culvert was indeed on state property, Caltrans spokesperson Manny Machado provided this response: “The failed driveway and culvert serve the Creekside RV Park, a private commercial property. Although the driveway and culvert are constructed within the Caltrans right of way, they are not part of Highway 101 and do not benefit the traveling public.
“The driveway is considered an encroachment on state rightof-way,” Machado continued. “Because the driveway's purpose is to benefit a private property and not the general public,
Caltrans policy dictates that `it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the approach from their property line to the shoulder of the highway. The property owner is responsible for the encroachment.'”
Machado further explained that, “earlier this week, Caltrans issued an encroachment permit on an expedited basis to allow the county of Mendocino to in
stall a temporary bridge on Caltrans right-of-way. The bridge was needed to allow the residents of the RV park to evacuate after the County deemed the property uninhabitable.”
As to whether the residents of Creekside are officially being evicted, county officials responded with: “the county of Mendocino
does not have the authority to evict residents from the property. Evictions are the jurisdiction of HCD and the property owner. The installation of the bridge was an evacuation measure only. This evacuation is similar to an order of evacuation for a fire or other emergency.”
As to whether any residents remaining on site would be issued citations, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said Friday that it had “no intention of entering the property and issuing citations, (or of) being heavy-handed in any way.”
As to the status of the drinking water at the site, county officials reported Thursday that “the county has not received any new information from the State Water Resources Control Board subsequent to the Boil Water Notice. Any new information will be shared when it is received.”