Four decades ago, when property owners along the Sacramento River levee realized they could build fences to keep the public away, they had two big weapons.
First was political influence. They had friends at City Hall. Those friends wouldn’t squawk about fences and gates that blocked public access to Sacramento’s greatest natural resource.
And they had secrecy. They could quietly seek permits from the state flood board to build fences and gates across the levee. There were no town halls or public hearings where residents could object to fence permits.