Illegal trucking operations in Sutter County are out of control, with administrative code enforcement and compliance with use permits severely lacking.
On March 20, 2019 I attended a public hearing of the Sutter County Planning Commission concerning the approval of a use permit and design review for the expansion of the trucking and convenience store facility on the corner of O’Banion Road and Highway 99. A sizeable number of citizens concerned about illegal trucking operations in the county also attended the meeting. While I and the group do not object to the proposed expansion, three simple requests were made for changes to the project:
• Include turn barriers so that trucks which are 53 feet in length cannot turn east onto O’Banion Road and proceed to Garden Highway, which is not an approved truck route.
• Include landscaping along the entire border of the project.
• Insure all of the yard area is paved to limit mud track out on county roads, as well as limiting dust.
The commission voted 5-2 to forward to the Board of Supervisors for approval, stating that it was within the discretion of the Board of Supervisors to approve. So, how will that proceed? The Board of Supervisors will undoubtedly state that if the commission sent the project forward, they should honor the commission’s recommendation. Another potential failure to do what is right for all entities.
In December 2018 the Board of Supervisors approved much needed modifications to codes regarding trucking operations, with the implementing ordinances currently under development. This project will not be subject to those new ordinances, furthering the creation of future concerns as are now existent in the Oswald Road area.
There are truck yards in south Sutter County and Live Oak that are operating without permits. The facility next to Barry School has been cited for code violation and referred to the Sutter County District Attorney several months ago, with no known action taken to date. This facility pumped excess water onto the state highway, has broken down trucks and tractors on the property and had excessive garbage next to the school fence.
There are illegal business operations in the Oswald area. In an established residential neighborhood that is agriculturally zoned, there is a trucking office in a residence that results in trucks transiting Orchard Avenue, a private road that was not designed to accommodate the weight of trucks nor is Orchard Avenue a designated truck route. This has been reported to the county and is being investigated. The California Highway Patrol has been contacted and can only respond when staffing permits.
The safety and quality of life within the Oswald area and south Sutter County is compromised by both legal and illegal trucking operations. While consistent with the zone designation as an Employment Corridor (EC), the concentration of trucking in this area without the appropriate infrastructure is ridiculous, creating unsafe egress onto Highway 99. The EC designation does not equate to a “Trucking Everywhere” designation. Some consideration must be given to the infrastructure and the impact this has on existing businesses, residents and the safety of citizens using the highway and county roads. The point is not to eliminate trucking yards, but to have mutually agreeable standards for the benefit of all. Sutter County has approved a $400,000 traffic study for the Oswald area; the result which will undoubtedly validate my expressed concerns.
I hope the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors are stewards for our entire community. Their decisions should benefit trucking enterprises, residents and the greater community goals. The county administration should enforce current codes for all of our safety.