Riverside Council Turns to Public Land Auction in Mount Rubidoux Cross Dispute

The cross has been the subject of a debate involving religious symbols on public land

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013  |  Updated 8:59 AM PDT
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The Mount Rubidoux cross

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A cross at the center of a debate involving the separation of church and state will be turned over to private ownership in an auction.

The Rubidoux City Council voted Tuesday to auction off the land on which a cross has been located since 1907. The current cross on Mount Rubidoux has been there since 1963.

The council's vote Tuesday night was unanimous. An auction will place the land in private hands instead of the city's -- an issue that prompted Americans United for Separation of Church and State last year to threaten a lawsuit claiming a religious symbol on public land is unconstitutional.

The land was donated to the city in 1955.

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The sale will occur within 60 days of the release of the bid documents, according to the city. The council was given the option Tuesday night of leaving the cross as it stands -- potentially incurring costs to fight the lawsuit -- or sell the property.

The minimum sale price is $10,000, according to a fiscal report prepared by the city.

The cross is nestled among rocks atop Mount Rubidoux (map), about three miles north of downtown Riverside.

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