Dealer's landscaping runs afoul of Caltrans rules

Publish Date: 
Aug 4, 2014

AUBURN, Calif. – Attractive landscaping around a business is a good thing, right? But sprucing up some land got Auburn Extreme Powersports attention from Caltrans -- and not in a good way.

The Polaris and Victory dealer on California 49 took beautification into its own hands, weeding, planting and adding rock barriers to a dry, barren strip of shoulder abutting the dealer’s lot. 

The business had no idea Caltrans personnel would show up to ask that they remove the landscaping on what the thought was part of the dealership property.

Caltrans confirmed to the Auburn Journal the land is owned by the state and therefore requires encroachment permits before any work is done, especially near highways. Caltrans spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins said a retroactive permit could be issued once the agency establishes whether or not plans for improvements or site restrictions exist at the site.

“We’re not the big, bad Caltrans everyone thinks we are,” she said.

Due to the drought, Caltrans is restricting the amount of landscaping added along state-owned roads. Jenkins said anything planted on Caltrans land become the responsibility of the transportation agency to maintain and irrigate.

Auburn Extreme Powersports and other local businesses will be looking into the encroachment applications needed to officially keep the work done to the shoulder, parts manager Sean Tait said. Dressing up the sloping shoulder just made sense to give the business more curb appeal.  

“The boss thought that this was our property,” he said. The dealer spent roughly $600 to plant saplings, clear weeds and install rock borders at the edge of the lot.