Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Department of Public Works



January 17, 2008


January 29, 2008







Honorable Board of Supervisors


James C. Porter, Director of Public Works


Policy on Granting Permits for Non-Standard Improvements in County Road Rights-of-Way



Adopt a resolution directing the Director of Public Works to implement the Policy on Granting Permits for Non-Standard Improvements in County Road Rights-of-Way.



Commitment: Responsive, effective and collaborative government.

Goal 20: Government decisions are based on careful consideration of future impact, rather than temporary relief or immediate gain.


Your Board’s adoption of the proposed resolution will allow the Department to issue permits for roadway improvements and other facilities that differ from the road standards adopted for various unincorporated areas where to do so would be in the public interest.



Adopted road standards specifying the types and limits of roadway improvements for the Mid-Coast, Sequoia Tract, West Menlo Park, Menlo Oaks and Devonshire areas.



The minimum road standards (“area standards”) adopted by your Board denote levels of improvement for roads constructed and maintained by the Department, as well as by outside parties such as private developers or other agencies. The area standards provide for safe and adequate vehicular access that preserves the character of the area for which they were adopted. The Department does not currently have the discretion to deviate from the area standards in either constructing or permitting the installation of improvements in areas where standards have been adopted. Projects that involve improvements differing from the standards would require separate approval by your Board.


The El Granada and Clipper Ridge area standards require the construction of sidewalk on one or both sides. The Sequoia Tract area standard allows for optional additional improvements like sidewalks and parking areas under an encroachment permit issued by the Department. The area standards for Montara, Moss Beach, Seal Cove, West Menlo Park, Menlo Oaks and Devonshire exclude pedestrian facilities of any kind, and specify the types of curb or gutter that may be constructed. The area standards are included as attachments to this report.


The Department has received several requests to "exceed" area standards by allowing sidewalks, paths, valley gutters and other facilities where the area standards do not include them. Recent examples have included project proponents from neighboring jurisdictions wishing to construct pedestrian facilities along County-maintained roads for “Safe Routes to School,” and developers seeking permits to improve private roads (i.e. non-County maintained) in public rights-of-way beyond what is allowed by the area standard.


We are recommending that your Board consider authorizing the Department to implement the proposed policy as a guideline for both the public and staff. We believe the proposed policy will provide for a fair and consistent review and approval process for applicants wishing to pursue non-standard improvements, without requiring that each individual project be presented to your Board.


A resolution has been approved as to form by County Counsel.



The costs associated with inspecting non-standard improvements in County road rights-of-way will be borne by the applicant through an inspection deposit paid to the Department at the time the permit is issued. Any funds remaining after successful completion of the project will be refunded to the applicant. The costs for staff time to review application materials and issue permits is part of the administrative costs associated with evaluating encroachments into County road rights-of-way, and are financed with Road Funds.


There is no impact to the General Fund.