On June 22 the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors decided to delay any decision on the Special Events Ordinance until August. This ordinance was aiming to require permits and/or press releases for special events on county roads which would include recreational and group rides of 50-200 bicyclists. The Board sent the proposed ordinance back to staff for clarification, and asked them to continue to work with stakeholders, including the VTA Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), to generate a more clear and precise document. The proposed ordinance will specify which events will require permits and incur fees.
Sylvia Gallegos, the county's Deputy Executive, first briefed the board on the history and progress of the ordinance, describing the two years of negotiations with stakeholders. She also stated that the Housing, Land Use, Environment, & Transportation (HLUET) committee had revised it five times.
During the process she stated that her office had heard from both extremes; from those who feel that only the Tour of California should be regulated, and those who feel that bicycles don't belong on county roadways at all.
Deputy Executive Gallegos stated that many had voiced concerns that the law seems to be extremely complex and confusing. Several minutes later this concern was evident when Supervisor Cortese agreed with many in the cycling community that it was indeed vague and confusing, stating that perhaps the ordinance was trying to do too much by dealing with such extremely divergent interests on our roadways.
Although not part of the ordinance itself, Deputy Director Gallegos went on to state that "minor special event" permits would cost $200, whereas "major special events" would be billed directly for all county costs. Major events would need to file for a permit 60 days before the event. Although this would be onerous for all club-style rides, she stated that the need for permits would be dependent on the characteristics of the event, and that club rides would be excluded.
About a dozen members of the bicycling community testified that the ordinance was confusing and overreaching. Points made were: the county has no authority to control cycling traffic on roadways that conform to the California Vehicle Code (CVC); the ordinance is in conflict with the California Vehicle Code; it is a special events ordinance, but there was no clear definition of a special event. The supervisors were asked to reject the ordinance and send it back to staff for clarification and consistency with the CVC.
Several residents of the San Antonio Valley commented that their roads were being overrun by rude bicyclists, and they needed help.
So stay tuned. This item will again hit the board's agenda in August.
SVBC thanks all of the committed cyclists who took time out of their busy schedules to show up and comment publicly. Without the opposition by SVBC and the bicycling community this ordinance would have passed in its current flawed form. Your calls, emails, and presence show our county leaders that our cycling community is engaged.
As always, please continue to ride safe and obey all the laws.