Easy riders

In a marked change from previous Critical Mass bicycle rides (see “Intimidation with a Smile,” Capital Bites, SN&R, September 13; and “Condition Critical,” SN&R, October 4), harmony prevailed between police and riders during the October 5 event.

Dozens of cyclists move as a slow pack through town on the first Friday of each month to make a statement for alternative transportation. Sacramento Police in the past have responded to each Critical Mass by handing out many traffic tickets. But this month, not a single citation was issued.

“We were very happy with Lieutenant [Jim] Maccoun’s much more conscientious approach,” said Jason Meggs, director of the Bicycle Civil Liberties Union. “To go from [about a dozen citations] last month to zero citations is … a great leap forward.”

When asked what brought about the change in tactics, Lieutenant Maccoun said that after speaking with Meggs, it was decided within the Metro Unit that, “We want them to be able to exercise their First Amendment rights.”

Last month’s ride was stopped in the first block because one cyclist was playing a stereo, but the stereo was ignored this month. Maccoun said police have discretion to not issue citations for violating ordinances like the city’s ban on amplified music.

Maccoun would still like to see Critical Mass apply for a parade permit, something Meggs has resisted on principle, noting that the clog of cars during rush hour needs no permit. But both sides seem to be adopting a less confrontational stance.

Police and riders even chatted amiably together at a park after the ride. As Meggs put it, “We’ve developed a trusting relationship.”

The city of Elk Grove is cracking down on property owners who have erected signs with slogans like “Protect Our Quality of Life. Have a Voice,” and “Got Planning?”

The signs are sponsored by the South County Citizens for Responsible Growth, a nonprofit organization that has been at the forefront of a political battle over growth in Sacramento County’s newest city (see “Elk Grove Erupts,” SN&R, October 4).

The property owners have been ordered to remove the signs or face the prospect of criminal charges and having their property declared a “public nuisance.” The city bans the posting of political or religious signs in scenic corridors, although group members claim their signs are neither.

Instead, they say they’re being unfairly targeted and harrassed because of their vocal opposition to the proposed Lent Ranch Mall and the city’s development policies. The city’s action does appear to be narrowly targeted.

“You can go to Elk Grove and see thousands of illegal signs,” said Christopher Castorena, the Sacramento County employee who handled code enforcement for Elk Grove until last month, when the city hired its own code enforcement personnel.