Saturday, May 31, 2014

We’re Not Done!

It looks like things have slowed down. The word according to Norm Hickling, deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich is that negotiations are moving along at last, that someday soon the Briggs Road Community will be free from the landlocking perpetrated by a private LLC, Los Angeles County, the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

Whew! What a cast of characters! And to think that all these agencies just happened to deny passage to the residents of our little community all at virtually the same time—supposedly independently of each other!—between 2004 and 2006.

If you are a new reader of this blog, please skim through earlier posts to get a more complete story.

What is happening right now is that a permit for Briggs Road residents to cross the Metrolink tracks was found, after nine years of being lost, somewhere in Los Angeles. Trouble is, the permit was lost for long enough to endanger our court-mandated easement across the LLC Property. If everyone is telling the truth, and the several parties involved are independent of each other and wish to accomplish what they say they wish to accomplish, it really is in the best interest of all involved to unlock this landlocking. Now.

If, on the other hand, this whole issue is as laden with secrecy and malevolence as it would appear, anything is possible. It could well be that the game is being delayed while the obstacles to our access are being reinforced. There remain several ways that our community could be played for fools. Though we are aware of that, we must be very careful with our accusations at this point, for reasons that are easily understood.

Shortly after the errant railroad crossing permit was unearthed, the word came down that Fish and Wildlife was open to the creation of an affordable Arizona crossing of the Santa Clara River, and that Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority was ready to discuss granting an easement across their holdings at the other end of Briggs Road. Also, plans to improve the road out the back way were revived.

That was three months ago. Since then, nothing.  I am not aware of the production of a single document, or even a hand-shaken agreement, that takes us any further with either of the two remaining access blockers: California Fish and Wildlife or Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

If my intuition is at all valid—and it often is—I just get such a strong sense that something is dirty. I smell dirt. I suspect that if the human beings behind this effort to choke a good neighborhood to death are successful, they will likely finish their lives content in the knowledge that they killed a community for their own profit. I also suspect that their own grandchildren will correctly despise them, as do the offspring of several recently exposed perpetrators of corruption. I would be delighted to be wrong and, as I have said earlier, proud to be one of the first to admit my error and celebrate the great goodness of those I have maligned in my heart.

Until that happens, I am keeping my eyes open.

I wish to make three entreaties of you, dear reader:
1.       Too many have been coddled into complacency by recent assurances that have produced nothing. Please urge your friends to keep up with us, to keep up the communication with us. Please let’s all keep the light on.

2.       If you have connections, if you know of an honest government official or a compassionate member of the media, please put us in touch with each other. We are already developing a surprisingly extensive network, but until something real happens with our access, it is not enough. Yet.

3.       Stay focused and steadfast on this issue. Granted it is a local issue, fought at a local level against local opponents, possibly outside of your sphere of concern. But have you heard of the Broken Window policy that has been so effective in curbing crime? [Not to be confused with the Broken Window Fallacy.] The theory is that if blight as minor as a broken window is left unaddressed, criminals get the idea that more brazen acts will also go unnoticed. Conversely, repairing windows discourages crime. It does work.

We must discourage corruption and victimization by government in the same way. You may feel that our issue does not touch you, that our broken window does not let freezing air into your home. But if you fight in whatever way you can—by writing letters to Governor Brown or Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, or by spreading the word about this blog, or sending us your ideas—you will be joining us in sending the message to all public “servants” that the People will not tolerate mistreatment. And that may well matter a lot to you one day.

One last point. We are seeing more and more allegations about Agenda 21 these days. Agenda 21 is a 300-page document produced twenty years ago by the UN. Its intent is ostensibly to address the ills of the third world, but the Glenn Becks and other reactionary conservatives have chosen to read it as advocating the shoveling of all of us into urban high-rises. I don’t know how many of the Agenda 21 alarmists have actually read the thing, but I don’t share Glenn Beck’s vision.

Anyway it doesn’t matter. Our local problem may or may not be related to this strange and dire theory. But I fear that if we ascribe all of our troubles to an Agenda 21 or other massive faceless oppressor, we are going to collapse into a soggy, passive muddle, unable to face so large an opponent. Remember the Broken Window policy.

Turn on the light. Focus on the issues at hand.

We’re not done!

Friday, May 16, 2014


In reading over the preceding blogpost I worry that it may not have been clear about the true significance of recent events. It sounds too critical of Los Angeles County and the other agencies involved with us in this access battle. I failed to emphasize that our greatest obstacle right now is us. We are full of fear and suspicion and, though a modicum of that is well advised under the circumstances, our anxieties are doing us more harm than good right now.

We are afraid to stand up and take leadership roles. We are afraid to take on the financial burdens for projects that will bring back our property values—restoring our fortunes to an extent far greater than the cost of any road or culvert. We are afraid to let our names be known. We are afraid to act.

Are we a bunch of pussies? I don’t think so, not really. We have good reason to be a little shy about stepping out into the light; but right now we need to put on our sunglasses and step forward.

Throughout the twentieth century our little neighborhood came and went with faith that we had access to our homes, regardless of whether all the i’s were dotted or the t’s were crossed. Perhaps that was foolish. In any event, we can never go back there. We cannot sink into catatonia and ignore the opportunity to put together a new and much stronger access. We cannot pretend that we can get along indefinitely with the residue of the old way of doing things. The handshake, the kindly smile, the benign neglect—gone.

This is where the County of Los Angeles has a significant role to play, one which will bring dignity and honor to every office that contributes. Our community needs encouragement. There is no such thing as lifting oneself up by one’s bootstraps. That’s just an old joke, you know. We, and especially the more timid among us, need a boost of reassurance before we can assertively move on.

We need to be confident that our old permit to cross the railroad tracks of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority has been properly and permanently restored.

We need to be confident that the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority is working in good faith and expeditiously to provide an easement for our neighborhood across lands that they have controlled for only a tiny fraction of the time that the Briggs Road Community has existed. Norm Hickling, deputy to County of Los Angeles Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, assures us that this easement is in the works. Some of us really are from Missouri and need to be shown, willing as we are to believe it.

We need to be confident that the City of Santa Clarita, another relatively recent landowner here, will provide an easement across its land. We have no reason to doubt the city will do that, but what a difference it would make to see it!

We need to be confident that the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife is working in good faith and expeditiously to permit an affordable crossing over the Santa Clara River. Norm Hickling assures us here, as well, that such is the case. Some of us need to see more concrete results.

Are you impressed by the number of public agencies that once collectively denied us legal access to our homes? And even now are only at the lip-service stage? You should be, and don't doubt that the power of these agencies has made quite an impression on us, for ten unbelievable years.

You see, some of the folks up here are broken. They need faith. We can ask each other to join up and be the first or second to sign this or that agreement about an easement passing near their property or pledge this or that amount of money to build a culvert crossing. But here is a radical proposal. Let’s fix it so that they are last to sign, after the City of Santa Clarita, after the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, after the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, after the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Let’s allow our more timid neighbors to be the holdouts for a change—but not for too long, please.

And, certainly, that may not be necessary. It may take only one or two government agencies to take the lead and actually produce something tangible to jog the more intransigent among us into action.

Taking care of the people is the primary purpose of our government. That is the fact that emboldens me to thank the officials of Los Angeles County for their truly inspiring efforts, and to urge them to redouble those efforts to persuade their fellow agencies to do the right thing—and thereby also stimulate our neighborhood to resume its former brave and proud demeanor.

Many believe that I have a knack for prediction, so let me predict this: the officials of the County of Los Angeles who help create our real access are going to be huge winners in the future. You'll see. I'll explain my thinking in a blogpost to come.

And neighbors, if at any time the mood possesses you, please don’t hesitate to come forward and show those governmental agencies that we are made of stronger stuff than they are.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Grandmothers Unite!

Evidence that I believe in the sincerity and helpfulness of the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich is that I publish this blog under my own true name. My conviction is that if I cannot be above-board, it is not reasonable to expect Mr. Antonovich and his deputies to be open and transparent with us. And maybe they will see my fool’s courage as a challenge, and resolve to be equally daring. Also, finally, if we are honest and they turn out not to be, what a public relations coup for our side!

Me. Just kidding around! Not really grumpy.
Sometimes I remind myself of the grandmother who refuses to move out of a drug-infested neighborhood, and who faces the personal danger posed by the dealers who want nothing more than to shut her up. When I see that I am the only one using my own truthful name, it makes me a little nervous. Am I a fool? But then, Norm Hickling and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich are using their own truthful names on this blog, too, whether they want to or not.

I got these from the internet:

County of Los Angeles Supervisor Michael Dennis Antonovich

Our Benefactor, Norm Hickling
 Back in November 2013 when I began this blog my intention had been to relate several of my neighbors’ stories, but soon more and more of them began telling me that though they were willing to help out with photos and news notes, they desperately wished to remain anonymous. When I built a website for our neighborhood some years ago, one by one they all begged me not to publish pictures of their houses. Most humorous to me is the neighbor who tells me that he cannot be known because he has so much to lose, and I don’t—he wants to be sure never to have as little as I do!

It’s not as if my neighbors are unknown to the powers that are besieging us; of course those authorities know plenty about every one of us. But apparently many members of the Briggs Road Community fear that being landlocked for a decade is not the worst that can be done to them. I have no idea what worse offense Los Angeles County or other agencies may be contemplating against these good people, but I do have great respect for the creativity of the designers of this landlocking plan, whoever they may be.

You hear weird rumors about “other” depredations allegedly committed by our own supervisor. And when a member of the media chooses not to run our story, some folks explain that choice by suggesting that the newscasters and commentators are afraid that our own county officials would shut them down or even get them fired.

Miraculously, we are at a point now where officials on the staff of County of Los Angeles Supervisor Michael Antonovich appear to be working toward freeing our community. In a blogpost to follow I will list the actions we find so encouraging. Right now, my focus is on our community and its state of mind.

Our next task is to shift gears a bit and prepare to take on a share of the financial responsibility for the roads and river crossings for which we have been pleading. We never dreamed these would be free of charge. They never have been in the past but we will now be required to construct a better road and a better river crossing. Gone are the days when a bunch of guys could reassemble the culverts after a gully-washer with a tractor and a case of beer.

Formerly not such a big deal

One tiny step for a man; one giant step for Briggs Road

Some of our neighbors may be a little hesitant to join the effort. Post-traumatic stress disorder is working on all of us, and we don’t know what or whom to trust.

You can’t beat someone nearly senseless for ten long years and then expect him or her to jump bravely to her feet, fully functional. Given all that has happened, and how long it has been happening, it may take a moment for all of us to shake it off and adjust to a new reality—if in fact the new reality is really real, which is our constant concern these days.

But “they” are not really out to get us, are they? The trouble is that when there is as little explanation as there has been—as little believable explanation—people naturally assume the worst. That is a very typical response, and often a good survival tactic. I can’t imagine why Los Angeles County officials and State of California officials would not enthusiastically proffer reasonable explanations for whatever was their role in the landlocking of a neighborhood. We are hoping that as they think about it, they have realized that whatever reasons they once had, those reasons are no longer feasible. Maybe they will divulge old motives, or maybe we will never know what was behind ten long years of an excruciating commute—four or five miles of the worst dirt road anywhere, according to UPS and propane delivery drivers. I’ve driven many dirt roads shuttling my canoes all over the United States, and I have to agree.

It behooves county officials to lend extra compassionate support to this community, in the aftermath of Goliath pounding David into the ground mercilessly for ten long years. I would like to refrain from accusations, but we all know that urging Los Angeles County’s support, even advocacy, for this community is fully appropriate.

Norm Hickling has been delivering the good news that he and the rest of the staff of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich have been hard at work and reports a fair amount of progress. But we can’t quell this niggling fear that he will also say that we have just one more little obstacle to overcome. Then I will have to hear my conspiracy-theory-prone neighbors say, “See! I told you so!” to me, and I have no good comeback for that.

I just hope, please dear God and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, that the last little obstacles are things that can, and really really will fall away. And that they really do! And then we all drive out to Soledad Canyon Road blowing kisses! Scattering roses! Calling out, “We love you Norm!”

We love you Norm! Do yourself proud. Do us right!

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Every Tuesday night I sit down with a cluster of pill bottles and parse out my daily meds into a plastic box featuring seven lids labeled with the initials of the days of the week raised on top.

When I attempt to pour one pill at a time into each little cubicle, all too often out come tumbling two, sometimes three. Skilled as I am, after all these years, at dispensing pills, I just do not have enough control at it—and that is not because I am uncoordinated. Each pill bottle has a shoulder at the top, from which rises the drum-shaped, threaded outlet. The pills jam up inside the shoulder and will come out only when I gently shake the container; and sometimes I shake just a tad too hard for the pile-up to release a single tablet.

You know all of this. The same thing might happen to you. But here is my point:

When the industrial designer, all proud of herself and imagining herself to be so superior to all of us because she could design things and we could not—when she, I say, sculpted the pill bottle for the first time, then cast the prototype all lah-de-dah and full of herself, she was not thinking about what it would be like to use that bottle as a consumer. She was just “doing her job.”

Someone who does think about what it feels like to pour medications from a bottle, me for instance, would design the inside of a pill bottle with one side—at least—ramping up from inside the body of the container to the outlet. No shoulder. The ramp would also narrow as it approached the top, so that a single file of tablets would line up. Such a dispenser would allow one to tip a single pill with control to spare.

Thoughtless designs that ignore the user are everywhere. The windshield wiper lever is so close behind the steering wheel in my truck that when I have to make a sudden move—like driving on our hairpin-infested “back way”—I frequently nick the lever with my little finger and the wipers spring to action smearing back-way dust back and forth in front of me. Thanks moron auto designer who drives his pickup truck only to the mall.

I can lock my cell phone so that I pull it from my pocket without activating a button or swiping the touch screen. But when the phone rings, everything on there comes live and the act of extracting the phone from my shirt pocket now changes several settings in ways that it takes half an hour to figure out and change back. It also hangs up on my caller. Thanks a lot you programmer who thinks you’re so clever to build all that software into our phones with no regard to how they interfere with actually using the damn thing as a phone.

Last example: I spent twenty-five years teaching mathematics to the youth of Los Angeles County, and very proud of it. During that time my colleagues and I survived twenty-five and more “reforms” and improvements to the art of teaching. These reforms were instigated by mayors and captains of industry, ivory tower teachers of teachers and psychologists who sent white mice through mazes, parent groups and school administrators  whose sole teaching experience might be three years as a gym teacher—no foolin’. Never, not once, in all that time, ever, was a teacher consulted. And we teachers had a pretty darn good idea of what was wrong, because we lived it every day.

I have two points, and I believe I have made my first one: the world is full of meddling know-it-alls who have no clue what effect their pet projects are having on the people they supposedly serve. I want to suggest that a Los Angeles County Supervisor, with two million subjects—er, constituents—can be grossly out of touch with lives on the ground in the same way. Like, say, allowing a small community to be land-locked for ten very difficult years.

My second, and more important point, is that these screw-ups can be fixed. It may take more work to fix something than it did to set it up right in the first place, but if it was possible to screw it up, it is also possible to fix it.

But that takes EFFORT. And BALLS.

BALLS. That’s right. I said BALLS.

We applaud the staff of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich for having the courage to right the wrong at the railroad crossing, and for shoving his Deputy Norm Hickling out into the lights to face our community. They could not have chosen a better or more graceful ambassador. But now let’s finish this thing, thoroughly and expeditiously.

It will require intelligence, compassion, and BALLS.

Monday, April 14, 2014


At a community meeting with Los Angeles County officials last Friday, April 11, 2014, Briggs Road residents learned of the progress the county has made toward restoring their traditional access to Soledad Canyon Road. 

Briggs Road Community Cherishes and Maintains the Natural Terrain
But first, bottom bottom line: we are not there yet. We cannot drive any closer to Soledad Canyon Road than we could after the last meeting a month and a half ago, nor do we have an easement by the other, long and tortuous “back way.” I do apologize for starting off with this downer disclaimer, but after the last meeting newspapers and friends had the impression that we were finally freed from government forces besieging and land-locking us. That was not the case then, and it is not the case now.

On to a more positive slant—

Norm Hickling, deputy to County of Los Angeles Michael D. Antonovich, listed these encouraging developments [comments in brackets are mine]:

Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority is now willing to give the Briggs Road Community an easement through that last parcel where “the back way” emerges onto Agua Dulce Canyon Road. [I cannot tell you what the time span is between “willing to give” and “has given.” In the opinion of this very naïve observer it should not take long at all, but in the lengthy experience of this very jaded casualty of callous government, who knows?]
The Dust Trap
The once celebrated straightening and shortening of the back way, such an encouraging promise eight years ago, is back on the list of possibilities. This time, though, the community will have to pay the several tens of thousands of dollars—maybe even a hundred thousand—for the grading. [Until we can do that, even with an easement at the end we still do not have a decent access for fire and emergency vehicles. However, it seems to this very naïve observer that establishing the easement, even without the new road, would go a very long way toward restoring our devastated property values.]

California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Los Angeles County engineers are working toward creating an expedient access across the Santa Clara River. [A low non-obtrusive Arizona crossing would suit the Briggs Road Community best, but Oasis Park may have commercial intentions and need a higher crossing which would cost more and possibly wash out more frequently.] Since it is the users who will bear the expense of construction, Los Angeles County counsel is fully engaged in working out how the Briggs Road Community and Oasis Park will share rights and responsibilities.

Low Crossing Would Suffice for this Typical Low Flow
We will meet again in 40 to 60 days, unless something wonderful and positive occurs, in which case Norm will contact us.

Now here is the sad part. Our trust has been badly damaged. As I have said before, I want to believe what I hear from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, as do most of the rest of us. And so I choose to believe that these developments are actually occurring. But my neighbors and I find ourselves unable to fully commit to believing anything any official says about our access any more. Some just don’t believe any of it. Others are compelled to append the phrase, “if they are really telling the truth,” to any discussion of what a Los Angeles County official says. This may be deserved, or it may be an artifact of government indifference and neglect. Whatever the cause, speaking only for myself, this loss of trust is very unfortunate and an additional complication we do not need.

Downtown on Briggs Road
Let us all—officials, residents, and any others involved—make a sincere effort to be worthy of trust, and to trust generously but judiciously.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

The World Will Know

I am going to take a charitable approach right now, because I want to present the most upbeat interpretation of events I can manage. Our positivity makes it easier for the other players in this drama to be creative and flexible—and kind. So let me spin the events of the last nine and a half years in the most positive light I can imagine.

Dawn's Early Light
What if it really is a coincidence that four different obstacles to our property access were set up within about one year? Let’s resist the appeal of a conspiracy theory for a while, just to see what we come up with.

The new owners of Oasis Park had their reasons for closing our access over their existing road. Maybe they were a little nervous about getting their new venture going.

Maybe the Metrolink office misplaced the permit for the Briggs Road railroad crossing, and so closed one of the at-grade crossings that have a perfect safety record (not all of them do) kind of by accident. We were happy and grateful when Norm Hickling reported recently that a member of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's staff has found that permit.

A Bad Sign at the Railroad Crossing
Maybe at about the same time, Los Angeles County officials decided that the best thing to do with a tax-delinquent parcel of land was to slip it quietly and very cheaply to a state conservation agency with a history that some find controversial. Maybe it is normal for one governmental body to sell things to another governmental body at an 80% discount. It would be wasteful to do otherwise. Unfortunately the far end of Briggs Road passes through that property.

Maybe California Fish and Game officials got mixed up when they threatened to arrest any Briggser who put a tire into the Santa Clara River, or to fine any minnow-killing Briggsman $2000 per fish. Maybe they were just having a bad day, and their more reasonable treatment of other Santa Clara River crossings could really apply to Briggs Road residents as well.

Whitewater in Soledad Canyon
Got the picture? Now let me tell a famous story—famous in the Briggs Road Community, anyway.

Once upon a time, after enduring their lack of proper access for four years, after receiving promise after promise from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich that he would work very hard to restore our access, and after winning the court case that county officials told us we would have to win first, the denizens of Briggs Road got fed up and restless, and began calling the office of Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s deputy, Norm Hickling. Mr. Hickling’s response was to ask, “What the heck do you people want?” In stingier days I might have poked fun at Mr. Hickling for an incredibly silly question, but maybe that would not be fair. Supervisors and their deputies have two million people to look after, and it might not be reasonable to expect them to keep track of a little neighborhood to which they had made—and broken—several promises.

We told Mr. Hickling that we wanted out and suddenly our hills were alive with surveyors and their trucks and equipment. We were going to get a new road, a wonderful straight and level road that would be our very own. There were some glitches, such as a cliff in the path of the roadway, but we were pleased and hopeful that these little problems could be worked out.

Our present route is neither straight nor level

Then came discussions with Mountains Conservancy and Recreation Authority, the state outfit that had bought that last parcel on Briggs Road at a stupendous discount. To summarize a bit, the conservancy attorney refused to grant an easement, even becoming verbally abusive to advocates of the community.

The entire project came to an immediate halt. The conspiracy theorists among us—most of us—chose to believe that the conservancy attorney was working under the instruction of her agency, that the conservancy and the county were working hand-in-glove (as they have been known to do), and that Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s office had simply come up with a plan that made them look good while still denying residents access to blacktop at either end of Briggs Road.

Norm Hickling told me in a recent telephone conversation that this impasse is now near resolution. The argumentative attorney is no longer with the conservancy, and more reasonable heads are prevailing. The diehard conspiracy theorists among us don’t believe it. They believe Los Angeles County to be inextricably bound up with the Mountains Conservancy and Recreation Authority. But I am very tired of that negative analysis, and prefer to believe that we really are near a breakthrough.

In that telephone conversation Norm also told me that a creative solution to the river crossing was under discussion, and assured me that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was much easier to deal with than our conspiracy theorists have made them seem.

Okay. I want to believe Norm. He comes across as a very kind and caring man, especially if I choose to trust what he says. I am troubled that a recent news story by our local radio station KHTS has quoted him as reluctant to be optimistic, but anyone who helps supervise two million people has clout and help and resources beyond my poor imaginings. I believe with all my heart that Norm Hickling can make this thing finally happen.

When we from the Briggs Road Community tell our story to others, the most common response is, “They can’t do that! Isn’t that illegal?” And so, in order to tell our story in the most believable way I can manage, I refuse any credence in conspiracy or skullduggery. The most I will say about hidden agenda is to note the peculiar coincidence of events. I will tell, in other words, the most believable story I can manage, while still telling the truth.

Mr. Norm Hickling has demonstrated what I believed he could do all along. He has shown that he is capable of creating change, and that he is strong enough to publicize that change. I have immense respect for him for that. But you must understand this: there are folks around here who impute trickery to Norm’s actions. They insist on believing that the four besiegers of the Briggs Road Community are in tight cahoots, and that when one blockage fails, county officials will erect another one, until we all fall down. Some folks expect a disappointment of the nature of the Great Survey.

Join me, if you will, in the belief that Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and his deputies have the will and the power to accomplish what they said they would from day one. Join me in the belief that they are, and have been, sincere.

Red in the Morning
I can think of a dozen ways that Mr. Antonovich’s office, in the capable hands of Mr. Hickling and others, can negotiate and persuade our way out of this encirclement. I will not yet state any of my ideas, so that all of them will be available for ownership by the real movers and shakers. I have total faith, and absolutely no doubt that a supervisor of Los Angeles County can break the Briggs Road Landlock.

And so know this: if through some equally creative turn of events legal access for the Briggs Road Community is once again delayed, in the hope that we will once again be lulled to sleep for another seven years, we will know for certain that we were foolish and naïve to believe again. And the world will know, this time.

This time, the world will know.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Which Crossing is Okay?

We need a bridge!
            It’s time for another guessing game here on Save Briggs Road! Which of the river crossings shown below have escaped condemnation by the powers that be?

            All but one of the photographs below were taken in Soledad Canyon, not far from the location of our desired crossing.

      1. It is not unusual for a culvert-based crossing to wash out during a period of heavy rain. This photograph depicts the remains of such a crossing. Prior to the washout, what was the status of this crossing?

      2.  This bridge enjoys a bit of notoriety for its novel construction. It features the traditional culverts, with a garnish of railroad ties marinated in creosote. The crossing has gone the way of all such structures after a heavy storm, with the culverts slipping and rolling downriver, and the railroad ties steeping in the wet sand.

      3.  Is there such a thing as over-building a crossing?

4.  Here vehicles cross over the frothy flood via a railroad car bed. Note the safety railing at the sides.

5.  This picture was taken during construction of a culvert bridge, four days after its predecessor was wiped out. (We've been waiting almost ten years for the privilege.)

6.  Is it more environmentally sound to anchor the culverts in concrete, or is it better to allow the swollen river to push aside all obstructions? We know of a case where the river undermined a concrete barrier and left it buried forever at the river bottom.

Another View

Now for the scoring. If you judged only one of these bridges to be allowed to stand until the next flood, you get only one point, for not understanding how things work in Soledad Canyon.

In fact, however many of the bridges you judged to escape censure by the authorities, that is your score. Yes, the perfect score on our quiz is six. Not one of the photographs presented here represents a forbidden crossing.

What, then, constitutes a forbidden crossing? A crossing to be used by the residents of the Briggs Road Community is, by some strange definition, in violation of the edict set by the people-in-charge. We are not aware of any other type of crossing to run afoul of the authorities.

You may have noticed that I did not divulge the location of any of these bridges. That is because it is not our wish to have any of them or their descendants condemned. The point is this: What’s the Big Deal? If every one of these bridges is allowed to stand until Mother Nature takes it out, what is so special about a crossing accommodating the Briggs Road Community? Over the years we have cooperated in the creation of several such crossings, none worse than the worst on display here.

One last thought: Allowing the Briggs Road Community to cross the Santa Clara River benefits every single party involved in this struggle, be it a governmental agency or private interest—assuming that each is being honest about its intentions. I am not at liberty to spell out each of those benefits, but certainly there is no harm in suggesting what a bundle of good will and good press would settle on the shoulders of every involved member of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s staff. 

It should be all right to point out that re-opening the much shorter access to Soledad Canyon Road takes our traffic off of the many more miles that run directly through Conservancy holdings. 

And surely there is no need to mention the importance of having a secure and reasonable access route for Briggs Road residents. That's only right.