We live in a beautiful place and we are reminded of this every time we bike, walk, or drive around Humboldt Bay. Unfortunately, for many years these scenic coastal views have been marred by the presence of unsightly billboards jutting up along the Highway 101 Safety Corridor between Arcata and Eureka. 

Humboldt Baykeeper has been working for years to have these billboards removed - legally and permanently. There have been many unsuccessful attempts in the past to remove these billboards, but in Sept. 2013, the California Coastal Commission responded to our calls to address this blight. Since then, Caltrans has finally revoked permits for most of the billboards along the bay. Since 2012, 16 fewer billboards obstruct our beautiful bay views between Arcata and Eureka, and today only 3 remain. We will continue our efforts until they are all gone for good.

Posted 1/3/14

Note: this column appeared in the Dec. 11, 2013 Mad River Union. – Ed.

When I read that Caltrans estimates the cost of removing the billboards along U.S. Highway 101 between Arcata and Eureka at $2 million, my first thought was “Bleep, I know guys who would do it for a can of gas for their chainsaw and a six pack.”

My second thought was that if the fight goes on long enough, climate change will take care of the problem for us. I commuted between the two cities from 1990 to 1994, and during that time, a massive wind storm toppled several of them into matchsticks.


HUMBOLDT BAY – The Rick Bailey Mortgage billboard on U.S. Highway 101 south of Arcata has fallen on its face, and may not go back up.

According to Humboldt Baykeeper Policy Director Jen Kalt, a county building inspector is on scene right now red-tagging the billboard to prevent any reconstruction.



The Coastal Commis­sion’s Sept. 12 deci­sion to give the go ahead for Caltrans’ 101 Safe­ty Corridor Project requires removal of all billboards along the bay shore between Eureka and Arcata. Shortly after, CBS Outdoor — the company that owns these billboards — had its attor­neys threaten legal action if billboard removal doesn’t come with a big payoff. Now Caltrans is trying to claim it will be too costly to remove the billboards (“Sticker shock,” Times-Standard, Nov. 23, Page A1). There’s more to the story than what Caltrans tells us.


Regarding “Sticker shock: HCAOG surprised by billboard removal costs” (Times-Standard, Nov. 23, Page A1), what is truly shocking, beyond the absurd price quoted for their removal, is the staggering audacity and insolence of this giant corporation in claiming that “the proposed removals violate constitutional statutes against illegal takings, and that neither Caltrans nor the commission have the authority to implement such a condition.”

In reality, CBS Outdoor, Inc. (a division of the media conglomerate CBS Corporation) has for decades been profiting from these billboards' visual pollution at the expense of public trust resources.


Today in Newport Beach, the Coastal Commission finalized its Sept. 12 decision on the 101 Corridor Project. The Commissioners made it very clear to Caltrans that removal of all billboards between Arcata and Eureka is a critical component of the project, without which they would reconsider their "conditional approval." North Coast District Commissioner Martha McClure agreed, saying that Friday's letter from billboard company attorneys translates to "Caltrans may have to pay for removal of the signs, but that's the applicant's issue."