Above you see one of the only images captured to date of the notorious Billboard Bandit, that monkey-wrenching folk hero/scourge of outdoor advertisers. (Pay no attention to the date; Stealth Cam has more important things to do than keep track of time.)

A recurring question in this breathless saga: Just whose land are these billboards on? Seems simple enough, right? Caltrans says it’s not — that, in fact, it will probably take until at least April to figure it out. Here’s a statement:

Caltrans is currently in the process of doing our due diligence to determine the property owners for the billboard properties. This research is ongoing and involves numerous historic records, with some dating back to the 1900s. In addition, field survey work to resolve property boundaries will need to be performed. This 10-square-miles search involves the evaluation of survey documents, both at the recorder’s office and other locations. 

There are a number of billboards along US Highway 101 between Eureka and Arcata, and we will be researching and surveying them in the following order:

  • There are five billboards between Humboldt Bay and the railroad tracks.
  • There are thirteen between the railroad tracks and the highway.
  • There are two to the east of the highway.
  • There are six between South G Street and the junction with State Route 255.

Our time estimate for preliminary results of this property research is no earlier than April 2014.