What Makes a Road Private?

By an edhat reader

What makes a road private? This photo was captured at the corner of Whitney Ave and Olive Street in Summerland. The unofficial sign reads “Private Road: For Residents and Guests Only, No Trespassing.”

Google Maps from 2018 doesn’t show the “Private Road” sign under “No Outlet.” Is it truly a private road?


Written by Anonymous

What do you think?


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  1. Do a search for “roads in Santa Barbara County.” I found a list on the County website. Whitney Avenue is on there. If it is maintained by the county, I bet it is not private. Private roads can be found in planned unit developments, condo developments, etc., and those are maintained with private funds.

  2. From the street map of Summerland it looks like Whitney is a public road for its whole length and so are the others that dead end off Olive (Emerson, Golden Gate, Shelby). This is clearly a sign purchased and installed by one or more locals to discourage and intimidate public access. In my neighborhood a resident has put up two “Guest Parking Only” signs facing the public street to try and stop cars from parking in front of her/his home. They look to have been sourced from the same shop as the sign in this photo. Notify the county public works department and see if they will act to make sure the public roads are open to the public as they should be.

    • People who complain about others parking in front of their homes on public streets are some of the worst people. I have encountered this many many times living in Santa Barbara for most of my life. People own a home with a two car driveway and think they own the public street too. It’s greedy, ELITIST and SELFISH. Everyone with a legal vehicle can park ANYWHERE on public streets. Get that through your heads, people!!! ELITISTS.

  3. Having lived on a remote property/dead end, I can sympathize with the owners. They want to prevent randos from parking on their street to drink beer, have sex, do drug deals, or dump trash. Believe them when they say they have seen it all…a little understanding might be appreciated.

    • Understanding is one thing, but claiming you own public property is not OK. Do the police not come when you call about these issues? If not, that’s for you and the police to work out. You don’t get to just pretend you own it and block parking for everyone because sometimes people do bad stuff there. What about elderly visitors, delivery trucks, etc? You’ll make them park a block away because you’re pretending to own a public road? Not cool.

    • It’s not ok to claim public roads as your own. It is similarly not ok to claim you own someone else’s private property. Make sure you do your homework and confirm the ownership of the roads you are concerned about before taking aggressive action to claim them as public property. You might find yourself in some legal trouble for trespassing or stealing / vandalizing signage. As someone else said, lawyers, guns and money.

  4. Anyone can buy a sign like this. I really have a special loathing for people who claim to own the public roads in front of their houses. It’s not right. This is a COMMUNITY and we ALL have rights to the public roads, so NIMBYS beware. If it’s truly a private road, then so be it, but there are lots and lots of NIMBYS in SB.

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