Downtown Santa Rosa streets aren’t the only ones carrying leftover bike race graffiti. (Read about them HERE.) Some west county residents are still smoldering over markings on Coleman Valley Road left over from Tour of California races. Others look at them fondly and describe them as historic since they were painted to cheer local bike racer Steve Cozza.

Meanwhile, Sonoma County is working to have them removed. Follow the email trail:

Question: What’s up with all the words painted on Occidental Road? Suspect it’s to encourage some bicyclists but it’s not washable paint.  Seems very rude whoever did it. Legal? — Kate Brandtner

Answer from Tom O’Kane, deputy director of the county’s Transportation and Public Works Department: We are having a number of problems w/these bike events. The permits are handled by PRMD and Kevin Lopeman, who reviews & actually issues the permit. He holds either a bond or a cash deposit to make sure the event organizers fulfill the conditions of the permits. I agree w/the writer who said it was rude, and it is also illegal.

Answer from Kevin Lopeman of the county’s Permit and Resource Management Department: Got ahold of the race director. He is in Utah for a race and then he is off to Colorado for a race. He will address it in a few weeks. I’m either meeting with him or someone else to go over the paint markings on Occidental Rd.

Comment from Road Warrior reader Chris: The graffiti on Coleman Valley Road refer to Steve Cozza, a local bike racer (now retired), who took part in the Tour of California in 2006 and 2008. It’s been there for several years now, and is part of local history. The Tour organizers are not responsible for that graffiti, and they admonish fans to use water-soluble chalk, not paint, to write their encouragements on public roads.

1. Steve Cozza is from Petaluma (grew up and still lives there) and was a promising young bike racer some years ago. He got injured and retired from racing.  He is now a Realtor with Frank Howard Allen in Petaluma and is very active in community projects, etc.

2. One of the stages of the 2006 Tour went over Coleman Valley Road.  Spectators wanting to encourage Steve painted the “Cozza Cozza Cozza” graffiti on the steeper parts (they should have used chalk!) – he didn’t do it himself.  While some people regard the painted graffiti as something of an eyesore, it memorializes the brief career of a bike racer who is now a pillar of the community in Petaluma.  For that reason, most people kind of like the graffiti.

3. Coleman Valley Road is revered within the cycling community because of its difficulty and beauty.  Difficulty: one section of the road gains about 800 feet of elevation in just over one mile.  Very steep, very challenging.  Many cyclists walk their bikes up this section.  Beauty: the view of the Pacific from where the road turns inland is stupendous.  Indeed, there are scenes of surpassing beauty all along Coleman Valley Road from the Pacific to Occidental.

4. “Cozza” is Italian for “mussel.”  This causes some perplexity for Italian-speaking visitors. :-)

Addendum from Steve Cozza: “Why don’t they just power wash it?” he said when told about the previous conversations.

“I don’t recommend it or support it, but it’s a normal thing to do in Europe. I raced there for 10 years before the Tour of California. When I saw (the graffiti) during the race I thought it was cool, I was racing in my own territory.”


Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter @PDRoadWarrior.



Be Sociable, Share!



  1. kiley

    “Why don’t they just power wash it?”

    “they” is tax payers, right?

    August 8th, 2013 8:57 am

  2. Jeff Bodean

    Or maybe Mr. Cozza could go powerwash it?

    August 8th, 2013 9:24 am

  3. Driver

    The marks on the road are minor compared to all the trash that is on the side of the road. Mostly fast food containers, cigarette packs and alcohol containers.
    I would much rather see the roads free from trash than the road markings removed.
    The trash is damaging to the environment, the road markings are a minor eye sore to some.
    As stated, some enjoy the memories of the Tour of California.

    August 8th, 2013 9:40 am

  4. Jay

    “now a pillar of the community in Petaluma” no he isn’t…
    He’s a petulant child.
    get rid of the graffiti, it does not belong anywhere.

    August 8th, 2013 9:55 am

  5. Oxi rez

    The road graffiti on Occidental Road takes away from the beauty of western Sonoma County. What would it look like if every race left graffiti? Fans and racers are here for the day, we residents have to look at it every day.

    Steve Cozza, you said: Why don’t “they” just power wash it? Who is “they” and where does the $$ come from to pay for the work?

    August 8th, 2013 10:20 am

  6. John Murphy

    “The road graffiti on Occidental Road takes away from the beauty of western Sonoma County.”

    Aside from the fact that the asphalt road itself probably takes as much away from the beauty as the paint does…

    You know, it’s funny. I was riding up Harrison Grade the other day. A beautiful Western Sonoma County Road. You know what I saw? A bunch of painted words on the road.

    Did it say COZZA COZZA COZZA? No. It said…

    “FIX THIS ROAD. SOSROADS.ORG” All up and down the road…

    Sounds like West County might want to not be throwing stones…

    August 8th, 2013 11:42 am

  7. Mark

    The grafitti has no place on public roads. I’m a cyclist and appreceiate the sentiment, but the other, what, 95% of residents who are not cyclists, do not. With all of the challenges of the bicycle / motorist relationship, painting the roads gives the car guys another reason not to like the riders.

    If you must, please use chalk.

    August 8th, 2013 11:58 am

  8. John Murphy

    Mark – these markings were made in 2008. Coleman Valley Road has been used multiple times since then, with no new paint, because the whole chalk thing has been figured out – except for Specialized’s well publicized screw up which is turning into a PR problem for them.

    We’re good.

    August 8th, 2013 2:07 pm

  9. Stephen THomas

    It’s been there for years and now people are crying. Give me a break. It hurts no one and is a reminder of the great cycling community we have. Why do we choose now to make it a big deal. Someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed or just need something to B#$@^ about. The guy above has it right, what about all the FIX OUR ROAD signs painted on the road? Somehow they are not a problem. Seems like the west county sees thing one way, The Tea Bagger Way.

    August 8th, 2013 2:49 pm

  10. Rupert P. Wallaby

    Wow. Such hostility for some chalk on a country road.

    Get a grip and start doing something worthwhile, like washing it off yourself.

    August 12th, 2013 5:51 pm

  11. jay

    people will gritch over a $0.39 pen to an underpaid clerk than they will do something to cut Congress’s pay and perks. Will a fine citizen just volunteer to clean it? How about passing the hat to powerwash it? Any solutions? Anyone want to pick up the trash up there or on the river or beach? Who want’s to do something real? Your complaints are petty, bitter and jealous.

    August 15th, 2013 11:24 am

  12. David


    Many people that live on Coleman Valley Road, in Occidental, and in “West County” are fake liberals and fascists.

    I lived there for 6 months (grew up in Sonoma County for all my life, and know the area quiet well). I would take long hikes using the road from where I lived to the beach and back. People would regularly stop their cars near me asking me if I needed a ride, like I was from planet mars and hiking on a road was so alien and foreign to them. One land owner shot his gun off over 30 times and another would also shoot off his gun when I walked by. They began to put up CHP signs stating (still there 4 years later) that people who leave the pavement are trespassing (-and guess who leaves the pavement to avoid the cars from hitting them on the road?-That’s right, walkers and hikers…) ;that’s how utterly twisted many of them are.

    They are many anti-bike, anti-pedestrian, anti-green, abusive people who do not live, they watch others living on their tvs and computers, and the slightest anything becomes suspect to them.

    I used to see this writing on the pavement when I walked, one said: “mommy, what’s peace”, and others were obviously bike race affiliated, which I thought was very euro.

    The community here in my opinion, isn’t hating the markings on the road, they hate free expression and alternative art.

    The long lasting writing on the potholed roads also stands as proof positive, that the citizens’ money isn’t going to maintain the quality of the roads here… it’s going to the sheriff’s budget, which is a huge percentage of the total annual county budget. If this community wants nice schools and nice roads, then it should stop funding the narc society, and start funding the repair and rejuvenation society.

    Try walking down your street some day or riding a bike on the road, then you may see what the real problems are, like gasoline fumes and, hum…why didn’t they design a space for people to travel without being hit, which is killing and injuring more people in America yearly then there wars are?

    September 2nd, 2013 12:31 pm

Submit Your Comments


Required, will not be published