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Anti-NH 2020 signs are an illegal eyesore

R. Josephine Jordan

Over the past months there has been a proliferation of NO and STOP Natural Heritage 2020 signs erected along our scenic roads and highways. These signs are large, 4′ by 8′ in size. Some of these signs are along Highways 49, 174 and 20. Some of these roads are designated as scenic corridors and highways. These signs are ugly and a blight on our community.

I have checked with the Nevada County Code Enforcement Department on this issue. Code Enforcement confirmed that these signs are in violation of the Sign Ordinance and are not permitted. These signs are illegal.

The Nevada County sign Ordinance (Section L-II 4.2.12) states “no sign shall be constructed, displayed, altered or changed without first obtaining approval from the Planning Agency unless exempted from the standards.” These signs are currently not exempt and permits have not been issued. The signs are clearly illegal.

When the Natural Heritage 2020 program is placed before the voters of Nevada County, the signs will be allowed, subject to the following requirements: “Temporary political signs not exceeding 32 square feet per sign, providing that such signs are not posted more than 90 days preceding the election and are removed within 10 days following the election.” Until then these signs are illegal.

Nevada County relies on tourism spending to help support our local economy. Visitors come here to experience and enjoy the scenic qualities of Nevada County. What message is sent to our visitors? Residents and visitors alike should not be subject to the blight and visual assault these illegal signs represent.

These illegal signs state they are provided by CPR Inc. and the “Protect Your Property Rights” group. They advertise their names and phone numbers on the signs. These two groups know their signs are illegal, but they choose to break the law.

Drew Bedwell is the stated founder and leader of “Protect Your Property Rights” and is now a candidate for county supervisor. He is asking us to elect him to be our representative. If elected, Mr. Bedwell would raise his right hand and give the oath of office. Mr. Bedwell would swear to uphold the laws of Nevada County. In the mean time Mr. Bedwell chooses to knowingly violate the law.

Mr. Bedwell, what gives you the right to pick and choose which laws should be followed? Mr. Bedwell, what other laws do you think you have the right to disregard? Mr. Bedwell, are you and your “Protect Your Property Rights” group above the law? If you won’t obey the law now, how do you expect us to trust that you will follow the law if elected? Will you swear to uphold all the laws of Nevada County or just the ones you think should be followed?

Two more of those illegal “NO” signs have just been installed on the old Bear River Mill site, south of Grass Valley. This land is owned by Sierra Pacific Industries. An application to develop this site into a new regional shopping center and business park is currently being prepared by a major, out-of-county real estate developer (Catlin Properties). The connection to SPI got me thinking a bit about some recent Union news articles, issues of public protest and the law.

The Nov. 29 Union included a front-page story about the sentencing of a logging protester. This protest took place in September, 2001, over SPI logging practices. In the article, Nevada County District Attorney Mike Ferguson stated he “just doesn’t think protestors should break the law to get media attention.” In a July 1st Union article District Attorney Ferguson said, “There are a lot of legal ways in our society of making your point. It comes back to the ends don’t justify the means.” We are a society of laws. I fully believe laws should be applied and enforced equally.

SPI, will you please answer one simple question? Why do you think you have the right to break the law to promote your views, but have others arrested for promoting theirs? This looks like a case of “do as I say, not as I do”.

I challenge Drew Bedwell, Protect Your Property Rights, CPR Inc. and SPI to respect our laws and the citizens of Nevada County by removing their illegal signs that litter our scenic roadways. When Natural Heritage 2020 is placed on the ballot you can put them back up, 90 days before the vote. Until then, they are illegal and you are breaking the law.

Please don’t respond by telling us how the end justifies the means. It’s not a matter of free speech or the Constitution. If you don’t like the laws, work to change them. Don’t make the taxpayers of Nevada County foot the bill to get your illegal signs removed.

Please heed the words of District Attorney Mike Ferguson and do what is right. It’s a matter of the law and we all need to follow it.

R. Josephine Jordan is a resident of Rough and Ready.


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