Request for Motorized Escort by Caltrans or CHP

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the Mules emailed California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and California Highway Patrol (CHP) requesting motorized escort in the seven mile section where no other public pedestrian route is provided from Oceanside to the Old Pacific Highway Trail. 

The email was sent to
– Laurie Berman, Caltrans Chief Deputy Director
– Cory Binns, Caltrans Director District 11
– Rachel Carpenter, Caltrans Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Branch Chief
– Warren Stanley, CHP Commissioner
– Scott Silsbee, CHP Deputy Commissioner
– Jim Abele, CHP Border Division Chief
– Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California

The email stated the following:

Hello, my name is John Sears. I serve in the capacity of a roving monk living outside with one pack mule named Little Girl, who has been by my side for the past 25 years walking the western United States, exercising our constitutional right to use the federal, state, county, and city public thoroughfare. We also refer to ourselves as “The Mules” and document our journey extensively on our website and our 3 Mules Facebook page.

On February 23, 2018, we went to Camp Pendleton’s Main Gate and requested passage to walk through the base to get to the Las Pulgas gate so that we could continue our journey onto the Old Pacific Highway Trail to San Clemente as we have done as part of our migratory journey three times in the past four years. We were denied access this time because we were not traveling by bicycle.

Upon getting off the base, I phone California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Oceanside and spoke to the CHP watch commander informing him that I would be walking north on I­-5 from Oceanside because I was refused entry into Camp Pendleton. The watch commander told me that I would not be allowed on I­-5. I said that when there is no alternative route, we have the right to use the only one route that is available, and that by default is I­-5. He repeated his statement that we were not allowed on I­-5. I responded that we will be walking on I-5. The watch commander said, “Use your best judgement.”

After walking for about 30 minutes on I­-5, we were stopped by CHP demanding that we turn around and leave I­-5 or face arrest. We refused to leave asserting our right to use the public thoroughfare as this was the only route that will take us to the Old Pacific Highway Trail under seven miles away. The public thoroughfare is not, nor was it ever intended for the exclusive use of high speed automobiles. Bicyclists were riding on this same I­-5 shoulder and were not stopped, detained or arrested. However, the Mules were arrested, charged with Penal Code 148(A) obstruction failing to obey a police officer with the Monk taken to Vista Detention Center, released and given a Notice to Appear in North Division Court in Vista on April 6, 2018. Little Girl was impounded and held at the Humane Society Animal Shelter in Escondido.

The Mules still need to travel north to San Clemente. I­-5 is still the only available route. I am writing you to request a motorized escort to be provided by Caltrans, CHP or both in this seven mile section where no other public route is provided from Oceanside until we can reach the Old Pacific Highway Trail and continue our journey north.

In researching California and other cases, we found the following:

California Law Vehicle Code 21949, effective January 1, 2001, passed by the California Legislature

(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that it is the policy of the State of California that safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access, whether by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller, be provided to the residents of the state.
(b) In accordance with the policy declared under subdivision (a), it is the intent of the Legislature that all levels of government in the state, particularly the Department of Transportation, work to provide convenient and safe passage for pedestrians on and across all streets and highways, increase levels of walking and pedestrian travel, and reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

California Department of Transportation Manual Chapter Topic 105 Pedestrian Facilities

The California Vehicle Code Section 21949 has stated a policy for the Department to provide safe and convenient travel for pedestrians. Conventional highways can be used by pedestrians. Although the Department will work to provide safe and convenient pedestrian travel on these highways, not all of these highways will contain sidewalks and walkways. All state highway projects administered by Caltrans….must be designed in accordance with the requirements in Design Information Bulletin 82, “Pedestrian Accessibility Guidelines for Highway Projects.”

  • “The use of the highways for the purpose of travel and transportation is not a mere privilege, but a common and fundamental Right of which the public and the individual cannot be rightfully deprived.” [Ligare vs. Chicago, 28 NE 934; Boon vs. Clark, 214 SSW 607; 25 Am.Jur. (1st) Highways Section. 165]
  • “The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by horse drawn carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city can prohibit or permit at will, but a common Right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” [Supreme Court of Virginia, Thompson V. Smith, 154 SE 579.]

Since I live outside and keep my phone off to preserve battery, I can best be contacted via e­mail, Please provide contact on who I may phone to discuss my request to continue our journey walking north from Oceanside to San Clemente with my pack mule.


John Sears

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