[KHTS] – Los Angeles County officials have determined that the railroad crossing Briggs Road residents use to access their properties is in fact a legal crossing.
For 10 years, residents off of Briggs Road in Agua Dulce have struggled to gain legal road access to their small community between Soledad Canyon Road and Highway 14.
A Santa Clara River crossing a Metropolitan Tranist Authority railroad crossing, both of which were restricted for years and a private access road through Oasis Park campground forced residents to use another access off of Agua Dulce Canyon Road, which is also on private property.
Then, early this year, Metro determined that the railroad crossing at Briggs Road was in fact a legal crossing, Norm Hickling, senior deputy to Supervisor Michael Antonovich, announced at a Feb. 10 community meeting.
Hickling, who has been involved in the issue since the beginning, said that this is one step in a long process.
Some Briggs Road residents have lived in the area for decades and would access their homes from Soledad Canyon Road, taking Briggs Road through Oasis Park into the community. For years, the owners of the park were accommodating.
When Oasis Park changed hands, the new property owners decided that they didn’t want homeowners passing through anymore, Hickling said.
In August 2004, Oasis started turning Briggs Road residents away, denying them access through the park, said Les Jundy, who has lived in the area since 1973.
In December 2004, a flood wiped out the Briggs Road crossing of the Santa Clara River, which was not repaired because of the danger it posed to the stickleback trout that lives in the area, according to the “Save Briggs Road” blog.
“Since that day, we’ve never had access to Soledad Canyon again,” Jundy said.
In 2006, Los Angeles County Superior Court granted the Briggs Road residents a prescriptive easement across Oasis Park, Jundy said.
“As soon as that happened Metro came in and said that we could not use that easement, and if we tried to cross the railroad track, they’d arrest all of us,” he said.
“(The residents) were always crossing the railroad,” Hickling said, “but once the issue came up and we started talking to official channels for a route coming across, we got told no a number of times.”
Crossing the Santa Clara River is a bit more difficult.
But that changed this month, nine years later, when county staff determined that the Briggs Road railroad crossing was in fact legal.
“Recently, we have determined, that the crossing that is out there is a recognized crossing,” Hickling said.
But there are still several steps before residents will again have full access to their homes.
The next step is for residents to meet with the private property owners and sign an agreement as to who would bear the liability and upkeep of the roads.
A river crossing also has not been approved.
Jundy said that he wanted county officials to show up at the next meeting several weeks from now and present a plan detailing “how the crossing of the Santa Clara River is going to be accomplished.”
Hickling was also hesitant to be optimistic.
“Six, seven, eight times we thought we had a solution that it imminent,” he said.
But he is committed to staying in touch with the community, he said, and advising them of any updates in the process.
Metro could not be reached for comment as of 3 p.m. Monday.