The Ukiah Daily Journal

Failed culvert not state's job

- Ukiah Daily Journal staff

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.”

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