For the time being this issue has been resolved. Please read the news item at http://bikesiliconvalley.org/content/528.
The Santa Clara County Roads Departments has proposed an ordinance that would require an encroachment permit for “special events”, and declares “An organized procession of 50 or more bicycles shall be considered a Special Event unless the procession will be conducted in accordance with all requirements of the California Vehicle Code Division 11, Chapter 1, Article 4.”
This ordinance is unnecessary and unfair. Existing ordinances, plus routine enforcement of the Vehicle Code, should be adequate to maintain public safety, and ensure that roads are available to all. The great burden that this law will place on event organizers may result in cancellation of charity rides, with the ultimate losers being the sponsoring charities. It could also be applied to club rides and team training rides, and the penalties from failure to obtain a permit could wipe them out.
The ordinance singles out bicyclists even when no traffic control or other special support is requested or needed. In addition, the process for obtaining a permit gives too much authority to the Director of County Roads and very limited rights of the applicant to appeal.
This proposal will be heard at the Dec. 9 and Dec. 16 meetings of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and at the Dec. 10 meeting of the VTA Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Please attend any or all of these meetings in person, or send in comments in writing, by FAX, phone or email. Contact information is below. It is extremely important that the voices of many bicyclists are heard on this issue.
To contact your County Supervisor to voice your concerns, visit http://www.sccgov.org/ and click on the link to “Your Elected Officials”.
We have provided two sample letters, one for individuals or clubs, and one for event organizers:
Discuss and Share
There is a discussion thread in the advocacy forum for this topic: http://bikesiliconvalley.org/content/500.
We will also be sending out updates in the weekly e-mail bulletin. This page will be updated, the permalink is http://bikesiliconvalley.org/sccpermit.
Additionally, SVBC is convening a workgroup to focus on this issue. This group will work with SVBC board and staff to refine our position, communication strategy, and action plan. It will assist with outreach on SVBC’s behalf to all segments of the cycling population impacted by this ordinance, and motivate people to get involved in ways that are complementary and supportive of SVBC’s action strategy—creating a strong unified voice on this issue in the cycling community.
If you are interested in serving on a workgroup focused on this issue, please use the “General Questions and Comments” option on the contact form” to tell us why you would be a good contributor to the workgroup.
Parade License versus Encroachment Permit (proposed)
Encroachment permits are usually reserved for construction activities, and parade permits are used for special events. Why not use the existing parade ordinance? Below is a comparison of key points of the two. It is clear from the comparison that the new permit process in unfair and excessive, giving the Director of County Roads too much authority and depriving applicants of their rights.
The proposed encroachment permit ordinance can be found at (new sections are underlined, parts being eliminated are struck out): http://www.sccgov.org/keyboard/attachments/Committee%20Agenda/2008/November%2020,%202008/202160622/TMPKeyboard202491495.pdf
The existing parade license laws can be found at:
|Parade License||Encroachment Permit (proposed)|
|“The term “parade” means a march or procession of any kind by a group of individuals associated for that purpose, other than a funeral procession, in or upon any public highway or public place solely within the unincorporated area of the county.”||“An organized procession of 50 or more bicycles shall be considered a Special Event unless the procession will be conducted in accordance with all requirements of the California Vehicle Code Division 11, Chapter 1, Article 4.” Most organized rides require riders to signs forms stating that they will obey the Vehicle Code. This ordinance would allow the County to punish the ride organizers financially if any of the participants break that promise.|
|Not required if any part of the route is within the city limits of a city that has issued a parade license.||Required if ANY part of the route is on a road in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Note that there are many little pockets and sections covered by this. For example, Page Mill Road between Altamont and Foothills Park is under County jurisdiction.|
|Fixed application fee.||Application fee, plus other fees as determined by the Sheriff (see below)|
|Permitting decision is made by the Zoning Administrator.||Permitting decision is made by the Director of County Roads.|
|The application is either approved, or a public hearing is held.||The Director can refuse to issue a permit “in proper cases” with no further explanation.|
|If the Zoning Administrator has any concerns about public safety, a public hearing will be scheduled to consider the permit.||No public hearing process.|
|If anyone wants to appeal a parade permit decision of the Zoning Administrator, the parade permit will be decided at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors, a public meeting.||A written appeal can be filed with the County Executive, who will issue a final ruling. There is no public process. Filing an effective appeal may be impossible because the Director is not required to give the reasons for denying the permit.|
|“The Zoning Administrator may include such restrictions and conditions in
the license regulating the time, place, duration or manner of conducting the parade as are reasonable and necessary under the circumstances to protect the public health, safety or welfare…” including insurance requirements.
|Any Special Event permit “may contain any terms and conditions reasonably necessary to ensure public safety, protect public and private property within and adjacent to the right-of-way, and minimize public inconvenience.” How far can the Director require you to go to “minimize public inconvenience”? Aren’t the causes of some charity rides more important than a bit of public inconvenience?|
|No additional costs are imposed.||The Sheriff can submit a written estimate of additional expenses that the Sheriff thinks are required, and the applicant must supply that money before the permit is issued. The amount may be appealed, but it must be supplied BEFORE the appeal. This allows the Sheriff to price you out of business even before you have a chance to appeal the amount.|
|Violating the ordinance is a misdemeanor, with a $1000 fine or 6 moths in jail, or both, with every day being a separate violation.||Unpermitted encroachment is a public nuisance, requiring the payment of “all abatement costs incurred in relation to the nuisance, including administrative costs, inspection costs, staff costs, contractor costs, attorneys’ fees, and all costs associated with physically abating a public nuisance on or in connection with the property.”|