Ted A. Lowe: Grand jury should investigate Yuba County over Hammonton Road
I want to clarify the information and status of Hammonton Road in the Yuba Goldfields. The Yuba County Board of Supervisors is responsible for the deteriorating condition of the road.
They were offered help from the US Bureau of Land Management and the Operating Engineers Union and declined to accept it. Certain members of the board continually found fault with anything that was offered to benefit the road. They were able to override the other two members.
Western Aggregates Inc., which had filed a quiet title suit against Yuba County seeking to divest the county of any right, title or interest in Hammonton Road, filed an appeal in the California 3rd District Court of Appeal.
A ruling was issued on July 17, 2002, calling Hammonton Road a public road. The appellate court determined that Hammonton Road was a county road, but called it a public road in its ruling. A county road is a public road that is accepted into the county system.
The following are excerpts of the appellate court ruling showing that Hammonton Road is a county road:
• Page 2 of the ruling states: "However, the county has the right to set regulations about the use of and access to the road, just as it has the right to regulate the use of other county roads."
• Page 3 states: "as a matter of Western's business convenience to move the county road."
• Page 5 states: "In 1877 a petition was filed alleging residents near the road had closed part of it. The District Attorney made a report, and the Board found the road was a county road and ordered removal of the obstructions."
It is obvious that the lawsuit proved that Hammonton Road is a county road. It is also obvious that in the good old days that the Board of Supervisors were more interested in the rights of the public than campaign contributions.
Access to the river road is certainly necessary for homeowners to have ingress and egress to their property. It is also necessary for law enforcement and fire equipment and emergency vehicles to have access.
Landowners in this area pay county taxes. The road, which runs approximately 8 miles along the south side of the Yuba River, is also necessary as it furnishes fishing and hunting on government lands.
In the past, the Operating Engineers had offered to set up a training center in the Goldfields.
The Bureau of Land Management offered to help by requiring aggregate producers to do roadwork. The board, consisting of five members, failed to act on anything. Again, campaign contributions work wonders.
A county grand jury needs to be convened to determine the status of Hammonton Road and possibly press for a federal grand jury investigation, since Western excavated and Cal-Sierra dredged across the Linda levee and the portion of Hammonton Road that furnished access to several sections of federal lands. These federal lands are now landlocked from the public. This was done in full view of the US Army Corps of Engineers.
By Ted A. Lowe is a licensed land surveyor abd Hallwood resident.