They’re a landmark in southern California, and they could soon be gone, according to news reports:
The state intends to remove three crosses, which have stood for decades and possibly close to a century, from a vista point near Julian because of complaints lodged this summer about the religious symbols being on public property.
The crosses are three miles south of town, off state Route 79 on a rocky island surrounded by a circular drive. The area is just east of the highway at a spot that offers a stunning view of the desert mountains.
For years, Easter services have been held next to the crosses at what has long been known by locals as Inspiration Point.
The California Department of Transportation placed a “Notice of Encroachment” on the three crosses Aug. 3. Caltrans spokeswoman Cathryne Bruce-Johnson said plans were to remove the crosses on Friday, but those plans changed Tuesday. The crosses will now be removed at a later, unpublicized date, she said.
Crosses on public land have long been a source of controversy in the county. The legal battle over the cross on Mount Soledad has been going on for 20 years. In a ruling in January, a federal appeals court said the landmark on public land in La Jolla is an unconstitutional sign of government favoring religion.
The appeals court did not order the monument removed but returned the case to federal court in San Diego to determine if the cross will have to be moved or if there is a way that it can be modified to pass constitutional scrutiny as part of a war memorial.
Caltrans’ anticipated removal of the crosses in Julian has prompted some members of the community to plan a protest, which could include a caravan of vehicles circling the island to prevent a backhoe operator from digging the crosses out of the ground.
“It’s a local landmark, sort of an institution,” said 84-year-old Julian resident Fred Fabre. “It’s used on Easter mornings by a joint congregation of Christian churches here, and I know many people who go out there personally for meditation for the view and the crosses.”