Appendix D:  Deception and lack of public process at the County level

Deception was used even at the County level, in order to conceal details of the requested legislation from the public and most of the County Supervisors, to change California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21960 which was never mentioned at the County level. Instead, false statements were made on the agenda of the County Board of Supervisors agenda for inserting legal text into California SB 1233 of 2004 for a totally different purpose: "installing" traffic signs.

Deception on the agenda, and improper and false agendizing.

This entire matter originated when County Supervisor Alvarado, Chair, referred to staff, at the Oct. 7, 2003 Board of Supervisors meeting, the question: “Why are the discriminatory signs still posted when they violate the Supervisors’ policy, and are illegal even according to County Counsel’s legal opinion?” [See: How this all started.] Staff responded by a dual effort: a public one and a hidden (non-public) one, with staff contradicting itself in the process.

The (public) staff report to the Housing, Land Use, Environment, & Transportation (HLUET) Committee of the Supervisors (
Feb. 12, 2004) eventually resulted in a directive from the full Board (May 4, 2004) to remove “pedestrians prohibited” signs on about 10 miles of roads. The (hidden) staff report recommended, to the Legislative Committee on Dec. 4, 2003, changing State Law so they would not have to remove the same “pedestrians prohibited” signs.

There was improper agendizing to keep the public from knowing about the (hidden) effort to change law:

  • First, there was no mention on the Legislative Committee (hidden) agenda/reports (Dec. 4, 2003) of the Oct. 7, 2003 (public) referral.
  • Second, there was no mention in the (public) HLUET Committee staff report (Feb. 12, 2004) or the (public) May 4, 2004 full Board agenda/reports about the (hidden) Dec. 4 and 12, 2003 effort that would directly counter the resulting Board directive to remove signs.
  • Third, in the full Board (hidden) agenda of Dec. 16, 2003, there was no mention of words such as pedestrian, bicycles, prohibited or expressway. (An attachment had the misleading “install 'pedestrians prohibited' signs").
  • Fourth, there was no any mention of bicycles on any (hidden) agendas/reports of Dec. 4 and 16, 2003, and
  • Fifth, there was no mention of prohibiting or restricting access, of either bicycles or pedestrians, on any (hidden) agendas/reports of Dec. 4 and 16, 2003.

  • All these factors resulted in no public input to these (hidden) agenda items of Dec. 4 and 16, 2003. There would have been much public input had the public been notified by non-deceptive agendas. When it was properly agendized (the pubic effort), the public did participate, and speakers at the May 4, 2004 Board meeting included:

  • John Sullivan, Chair, Valley Transportation Authority Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee [also called Countywide BPAC], which had official input on this topic to the Board,
  • the President of the Modern Transit Society (Akos Szoboszlay) and
  • the President of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Association (Jim Stallman.)
  • All speakers spoke in favor of removing prohibitory signs. There was no public speaker in favor of prohibiting, or posting or installing prohibitory signs.

    Requested legislation was never approved

    Furthermore, the County Board of Supervisors never approved the changes in law that the County requested from the State through the County's lobbyist, Michael Rattigan. What was approved is described next.

    A false pretense was used to seek legislation by requesting authority to “install” and “post” prohibitory signs. This authority already existed by CVC 21351. As for posting of speed limit and other regulatory signs, the Cities having jurisdiction "cause [signs] to be posted" [CVC 21351] by informing the County of their regulatory ordinance(s). This has been the case for 40 years, since inception, and was never disputed by anyone, to our knowledge. [Update: County staff reveals the real reason for SB 1233.]

    The agenda item before the Legislative Committee of the County Board of Supervisors was to approve a 15-item "2004 Legislative Policies and Priorities, 12/4/03" an 82-page document, on Dec. 4, 2003. Page 13 has the portions referred in the summary as "install ‘pedestrians prohibited’ signs." It is rebutted here (and fully reproduced at bottom). It stated:

    “Proposal: Allow Santa Clara County to post ‘Pedestrians Prohibited’ signs on right-of way along County expressways.” ... “This minor modification could be made through as part [sic] of the Legislature’s annual omnibus Local Government or Transportation bill.”

    There was nothing more than these two sentences --other than background (below)-- so nothing more was approved. There was no mention of eliminating the right of access stipulation of CVC 21960, eliminating the freeway stipulation, nor that rights of bicyclists are also affected, Statewide. Furthermore, no legal text was provided to the public. If the Board action would have been complied with, it would have been innocuous.

    The summary on page 77 is also deceptive:

    "Statutory authority for the County to install ‘pedestrians prohibited’ signs on County expressway right-of-way."

    Different section of Vehicle Code was changed from what was approved.

    Even the Senators were fooled by the many false statements of County staff, who stated it was just to "install" and "post" signs, and they never mentioned "prohibit." Despite the title "Expressway Signage" used on the County Board of Supervisors agenda, the Vehicle Code chapter "Traffic Signs, Signals and Markings" was not changed at all by SB 1233. Instead, the chapter "Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties" was changed. The right to use roadways was removed from that chapter.

    Derogatory statement about pedestrians

    The background section of this agenda item gives a vivid demonstration of the attitude of County staff towards pedestrians and transit patrons. (Furthermore, it starts with a false statement as described in Appendix A, “Authority” contradictions). It states:


    Current law does not provide explicit authority for the County to post “Pedestrians Prohibited” signs along side [sic] of County expressways. At the same time, it is the County’s responsibility to keep this area free of pedestrians to maintain safety on the roadside.

    The derogatory “free of pedestrians” is more suitable for situations such as “free of contamination” or “free of vermin.” Staff claims that allowing pedestrians to use sidewalks, walking paths, wide shoulders and bus stops are unsafe on arterial roads declared “expressway.” Staff desires to destroy these facilities for more traffic lanes. Previously, they claimed bike lanes are unsafe for bicyclists for the same reason. Furthermore, the Board does not have a responsibility to discriminate, as staff states.

    Similar effort, in 1988, was a public process

    The anti-bicycle and anti-pedestrians interests in the County succeeded in accomplishing in 2003-4, by a secret process, what they failed to do in 1988, by a process with public input and honest agendas. In 1988, these interests requested the Board of Supervisors to seek legislation in Sacramento for authority to reinstate bicycle prohibitions on “expressways” that were repealed by cities, including Sunnyvale. It went before the County Highways and Bikeways Committee, then the County Transportation Commission and then the County Board of Supervisors, being fully agendized each time. It was rejected by the Board which voted that "[The Board] supports bicycles on expressways."

    The 2003 action was hidden from the public

    In contrast, the similar action in 2003 that resulted in changing CVC 21960 was accomplished, in full contradiction of the County Expressway Plan [Master Plan], by use of deceptive and improper agendizing. There was no referral to any advisory committee or commission to seek legislation.

    The County did not inform the City of Sunnyvale or the Modern Transit Society of its intent to seek legislation on this matter despite the ongoing fight to achieve compliance with State law, which the County staff de-facto refused.

    The only related public process that occurred on or prior to the 2003 action was for the County Expressway Plan [Master Plan], and the 1988 process (described above). The Plan went before the [County] Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (May 8, 2002), the County Roads Commission, and the Board of Supervisors (August 19, 2003). The Committee voted that it "Recommended that all pedestrian prohibition signs be removed from the expressways." This recommendation was, for all practical purposes, adopted by the County Board of Supervisors into the Plan because all locations having “pedestrians prohibited” signs today do, in fact, have pedestrian facilities: pedestrian paths or shoulders. The Plan not only supports pedestrians on sidewalks and pedestrian paths of expressways, it also supports shoulders use. It states:

    "shoulder or path facilities can serve ... for occasional pedestrian use." [page 93]

    Full text of "2004 Legislative Policies and Priorities, 12/4/03" page 13 [Source: download County's pdf file]:


    Proposal: Allow Santa Clara County to post "Pedestrians Prohibited" signs on right-of-way along County expressways.

    Background: Current law does not provide explicit authority for the County to post "Pedestrians Prohibited" signs along side of County expressways. At the same time, it is the County's responsibility to keep this area free of pedestrians to maintain safety on the roadside.

    It is believed that this minor modification could be made through as part of the Legislature's annual omnibus Local Government or Transportation bill.