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Authorities worry about road safety if Michael Jackson memorial is held at Neverland Ranch

June 30, 2009 |  4:22 pm

Authorities have safety concerns over apparent plans for a memorial for Michael Jackson at the Neverland Ranch, saying that the narrow hillside road could be overtaxed by thousands of vehicles.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Lt. Butch Arnoldi said two-lane Figueroa Mountain Road is not designed for a crush of cars and that his department is discussing how to make the route to Neverland as safe as possible.

There have been reports that the Jackson family would like to have some sort of ceremony for Jackson at the ranch, located north of Santa Barbara in Los Olivos, perhaps after a public ceremony at Staples Center. Although the plans remain unclear, sheriff's officials have been planning for such a contingency for a few days.

 “We have not been approached by any family members of the Jackson family about an event that’s to occur in our county,” Arnoldi said. “We don’t want to be caught behind the eight-ball here.”

News vans and media vehicles have started to line up along the road outside Neverland Ranch. Notes, balloons and flowers for Jackson have also been left at the gate.

On a piece of cardboard, someone wrote “Thank you for being such a ‘Thriller.’ ”

On a lined piece of white paper, a fan wrote “ Michael, you will never be forgotten! We love you! You are an idol and will always be the king of pop!”

The gates have opened for some vehicles, including a fire vehicle. Only a few fans waited outside the ranch. Many people drove up, took pictures and left.

--Ruben Vives, and Ari B. Bloomekatz in Los Olivos, Calif.