[env-trinity] First Amendment Project: Caltrans broke law by confiscating anti-tunnel signs
danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Fri Jul 12 08:38:37 PDT 2013
original image ( 1224x1224)
First Amendment Project: Caltrans broke law by confiscating anti-
by Dan Bacher
In the latest episode in the Brown administration's "Signgate"
scandal, Restore the Delta Thursday released an expert legal opinion
finding that the California Department of Transportation’s
(Caltrans) confiscation of “Save the Delta! Stop the Tunnels!”
signs displayed by Delta land and business owners was done without
“any legal basis.”
The legal opinion from the First Amendment Project to Restore the
Delta refutes Caltrans’ assertion that the signs are illegal and
cites a 1996 Attorney General opinion finding that the “expression
of a political belief by a property owner whether displayed by signs
or otherwise” is constitutionally protected.
"The 'Save the Delta!' signs are not covered by the Outdoor
Advertising Act’s prohibitions against signs, both because they are
not 'temporary political signs' that cannot be displayed within 660
feet of a right-of-way of a highway and because the Act does not (and
can not) cover political signs of this nature," the opinion stated.
"Accordingly, Caltrans did not have any legal basis to remove the
Delta advocates oppose the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to
build the peripheral tunnels because the $54.1 billion project will
hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central
Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other
fish species. The project would also, under the guise of "habitat
restoration," take large areas of Delta farmland, some of the most
fertile on the planet, out of production in order to deliver massive
amounts of water to irrigate toxic, drainage-impaired land on the
west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
The peripheral tunnels also threaten salmon and steelhead restoration
on the Trinity River, the Klamath's largest tributary. The Trinity,
whose water is diverted to the Sacramento River via a tunnel to
Whiskeytown Reservoir, is the only out of basin water supply for the
federal Central Valley Project.
Restore the Delta called on Governor 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.
Restore the Delta will hold a protest in front of CalTrans
headquarters, 1120 N Street, on Friday morning, July 12, at 10 am.
“We are outraged that the Brown Administration is trampling the
rights of business and land owners who have posted signs on their
property opposing the Peripheral Tunnels,” said Barbara Barrigan-
Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta.
“State government officials are acting like bullies and are
interfering with the rights of Delta residents to state how they feel
about Governor Brown’s plan to build the twin tunnels which will
destroy their homes, their businesses, Bay area and coastal
fisheries, and the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the Americas.
“CalTrans did not follow the required process about notifying people
to move signs if CalTrans believed they were not located properly.
CalTrans does not have the right to enter private property to remove
signs without following the legal process described in the Business
and Professions Code.
“Delta residents were threatened by CalTrans employees with huge
$10,000 fines. CalTrans told Restore the Delta that residents could
be fined if their signs were not 660 feet from the public right of way.
“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. 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
"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 to private land and business owners?” Barrigan-Parrilla
Click here to view the First Amendment Opinion Letter: http://
For more information, contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve
[at] hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara [at]
restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta, http://
Background: Brown continues and expands Schwarzenegger's terrible
The rush to build the peripheral tunnels, in spite of widespread
opposition, is not the only abysmal Schwarzenegger administration
environmental policy that the Brown administration has continued and
expanded. Brown continued and expanded the massive water exports and
fish kills at the Delta pumps that the Schwarzenegger regime became
The Brown administration authorized the export of record water
amounts of water from the Delta in 2011 – 6,520,000 acre-feet,
217,000 acre feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre
feet set in 2005 under the Schwarzenegger administration.
Brown also presided over the "salvage" of a record 9 million
Sacramento splittail and over 2 million other fish including Central
Valley salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin
shad, white catfish and sturgeon in 2011. (http://
In addition, Brown and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird
continued the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)
Initiative started by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2004. The conflicts
of interest, failure to comprehensively protect the ocean, shadowy
private funding, incomplete and terminally flawed science and
violation of the Yurok Tribe's traditional harvesting rights have
made the MLPA Initiative to create so-called "marine protected areas
into one of the worst examples of corporate greenwashing in
In a huge conflict of interest, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of
the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life
Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-
called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Reheis-Boyd,
the oil industry's lead lobbyist for fracking, offshore oil drilling,
the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the evisceration of
environmental laws, also served on the MLPA task forces for the North
Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast.
Other environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration
that Brown and Laird have continued include engineering the collapse
of six Delta fish populations by pumping massive quantities of water
out of the Delta; presiding over the annual stranding of endangered
coho salmon on the Scott and Shasta rivers; clear cutting forests in
the Sierra Nevada; supporting legislation weakening the California
Environmental Water Quality Act (CEQA); and embracing the corruption
and conflicts of interests that infest California environmental
processes and government bodies ranging from the Bay Delta
Conservation Plan to the regional water boards.
Now Brown has apparently expanded his war on fish, rivers, the ocean
and the environment to the First Amendment as he confiscates signs of
those who oppose the peripheral tunnels. What will Caltrans do next -
start pulling bumper stickers off the vehicles of peripheral tunnel
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