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County Supervisors Approve Policy for Monuments

Monuments should be non-political and relate to county, state history

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – At its meeting on yesterday, June 19, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved a policy that provides step-by-step guidance to community groups or individuals who want to have monuments erected on County property.  The policy further details the basis on which the County will consider such requests and outlines evaluation criteria and limitations on the acceptance of monuments.  The policy was prompted by a request from the members of the community to erect a Vietnam War Monument. To be able to respond, Supervisor Dave Cortese asked the administration to develop a process and evaluation criteria to guide County’s consideration of such requests.

“Having this policy in place makes it possible for the county to apply a consistent standard to consider community requests to erect monuments on county-owned property,” said Supervisor Cortese, sponsor of the resolution. “We have such a rich and diverse community and history; this process will enable a thorough review of proposed monuments.”
According to the new board policy, any person or entity wishing to donate a monument to the County must contact the County Executive.  A written proposal will need to clearly identify the significance of the intended donation and how it will be funded from concept through installation. The County Executive will review and determine if the requirements of the policy have been met and then make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. The Board also retained the option to refer any proposal that is not recommended for approval by the County Executive to the Finance and Government Operations Committee for further consideration under this policy.
“I welcome this new board policy.  It will help everyone understand what is required if they want to propose a monument,” said President George Shirakawa, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “It will also serve as a basis for the staff to consider the impact on county facilities and open space.”
Under the established criteria for the erection and maintenance of monuments, the County will only consider the erection of monuments on County property which:
  • Relate to the history of Santa Clara County or the State of California; or
  • Honor individuals or groups that have played an important role in Santa Clara County or the State of California; or
  • Are donated by groups with longstanding ties to Santa Clara County or the State of California and which express sentiments consistent with Santa Clara County policies.

The County also wants to ensure that proposed monuments are not political in nature.  The policy states: No physical feature, including but not limited to sculpture, memorial, structure, or landscape feature, shall be installed for the purpose of bringing attention to a special interest or cause unrelated to the eligibility factors.

The following criteria shall be considered in determining whether or not to accept a donation of a monument and the ultimate location of the donated monument: 

  • Relevance of the monument to the placement location, such as historic or thematic relationship, and consistency with Board policies, if any.
  • Consideration of the long-term impact of a permanent monument and its ability to withstand conditions such as the weather, vandalism, vagaries of time, and changing attitudes.
  • No subjects that are trademarked or commercially licensed may be installed on County property.
  • The monument must be designed and sited to avoid disturbance of natural and cultural resources and values.
  • The monument cannot interfere with or prohibit existing or anticipated future uses of the property.
  • The monument cannot encroach on any pre-existing work or be aesthetically intrusive.
  • The monument must not pose a safety hazard to passersby, curious spectators, or the environment. Sharp projecting elements, loose parts, and other hazard elements are prohibited.
  • The monument must be of high quality design and craftsmanship to assure permanence; inferior workmanship may be rejected and removal required.
  • No monument shall be accepted if it presents an unreasonable maintenance burden. The County retains the option of requiring the donor to enter into a contract to provide for routine maintenance.
  • While not absolute, monuments to living persons are discouraged; a minimum of serve years between an event and its commemoration of recommended to allow for sufficient historical perspective.

All approved monuments installed on County property become the property of the County.   

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Shirley Zackor, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119
Posted: June 20, 2012