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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional
Review / DEVELOPMENTS IN ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, SAN BERNARDINO
AND VENTURA COUNTIES

Caltrans Backs Off Plan to Reduce Nativity Scenes

November 16, 2000

ONTARIO — Responding to legal threats from local business leaders, Caltrans on Wednesday backed down from a move to reduce the number of nativity scenes displayed on the Euclid Avenue median.

The state agency, which has jurisdiction because the street also is a state highway, had said it would allow only four of the customary 12 scenes this year. The rest were to be representative of non-Christian faiths.

The change in policy came after local resident Patrick Greene complained to Caltrans that the nativity scenes, displayed at Christmas for decades, violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

But the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, through its attorney, sent a letter last week to Caltrans contending that the private organization's free-speech rights were being infringed. Sen. Nell Soto (D-Pomona) endorsed the letter, said chamber president David Grossberg.

Caltrans announced on Wednesday that it would issue a permit to the Chamber of Commerce today for 12 nativity scenes and four additional scenes representing other faiths. The displays will go up Saturday.

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