Bureaucratese seems to say, “Follow our rules even if you can’t figure them out.” That’s the kind of letter Lone Pine Chamber Director Kathleen New said she received after Caltrans rejected this year’s application for a permit submitted November 2nd to conduct Lone Pine’s Christmas Parade December 8th. Caltrans rejected it without much explanation.
Then on November 19th, they sent a bureaucratic letter with a list of complex requirements that left Ms. New in angry confusion about how to create a “Traffic Handling Plan” approved by a Civil Engineer, a plan, said Caltrans’ letter that “must adhere to the 2010 California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.”
She had to get permission from Inyo County, and proof that the person implementing the Traffic Handling Plan detour has a “California C31-Construction Zone Traffic Control license or greater.” What does that mean, Ms. New wanted to know?
Finally, she could not use Caltrans signs, cones or barricades that she had always used for the past 20 years. Ms. New said all the mystifying requirements made her cry. She said in all past years, she would get Caltrans cones and barricades for the detour and CHP would direct traffic. She sent in a hand-drawn map of the route and detour and that was the end of it. Permit granted.
This time, distraught that time was so short before the December 8 parade, Ms. New started calling Caltrans. She said no one returned her call for a week. That’s when she called Sierra Wave Media.
On Tuesday, Terry Erlwein, Caltrans traffic engineer and Kurt Weiermann of the permits department talked to us and said they could work with Ms. New and put together a plan for her. The offer of help came too late. Ms. New had already called community groups to cancel the parade in the face of a rejected permit.
Why all the bureaucratic requirements for town parades that used to go ahead smoothly and practically? Erlwein said Caltrans is under increasing scrutiny and criticism and they have to follow policies to the letter. She said, “Investigations are going on all over the place.” For small town parades? Well, maybe not those. Erlwein and others did try this week to find a resolution to the Lone Pine situation.
Communities and their parades have found out that they can no longer use Caltrans cones or barricades. They are public property so why not? Erlwein said Caltrans can’t show favorites. It’s state policy.
Kurt Weierman took responsibility for the situation. He sent the icy, bureaucratic letter to the Lone Pine Chamber and said he was following policy. He said he’s being called the Grinch around the office.
He’s being called other things in Lone Pine. Said Kathleen New, “We’re not dealing with the Rose Parade here. It’s a little parade. I’m really upset.”
Other towns have faced the same, newly enforced bureaucracy – the Bishop Chamber of Commerce which has filed an application for a Christmas Parade, Bridgeport and Independence have or will deal with the tightened up bureaucracy.
Kathleen New said she received the letter from Weiermann November 20th. She started calling for help the next day and said no one returned her call or helped her for an entire week. Time was running out, so she cancelled the parade. Ms. New said, “They could’ve written a letter in July about the new requirements. Caring about the communities where you live doesn’t require brain surgery.” Of Caltrans, she said, “They don’t care.”
A smaller parade on Locust Street in Lone Pine will happen Saturday at 4:30pm. Proceeds will help the family who lost their home by fire this week. At last word, the major, Main St. parade will not happen.