The city council in Santa Rosa, the county seat for Sonoma County in California, unanimously passed an cyclist and pedestrian anti-harassment law yesterday after the city police department and city attorney endorsed the ordinance.
The law, which will take effect on August 10, allows cyclists and pedestrians to file a civil suit against those who assault, threaten, or force them off of the road. The cyclist or pedestrian can sue for up to treble damages or $1000, whichever is greater.
The city of Santa Rosa is now the second and largest city in Sonoma County to pass an anti-harassment ordinance. The city of Sebastopol passed a similar law in December 2012. The county passed their own anti-harassment ordinance in March 2013 that covers unincorporated parts of Sonoma County. The Sonoma County cities of Windsor and Healdsburg considered and rejected similar legislation for their towns.
The law is modeled on legislation passed in the city of Los Angeles in 2011. Other California cities with similar laws on the books now include the San Francisco Bay Area cities of Berkeley and Sunnyvale.
The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition made adoption of this anti-harassment law countwide a goal for their organization after an Oakmont man intentionally ran down a cyclist in a road rage incident in the summer of 2012. The 82-year-old man who was convicted in that case, Harry Smith, will serve his sentence wearing an ankle bracelet at a private senior living facility with a dementia program.