2017 ADA Complaint Letter to the City of San Jose

Michele Mashburn
3 min readSep 11, 2022


I was going through old papers and found this letter that I wrote in November 2017 to complain about an art exhibit, the Sonic Runways, that imposed accessibility barriers. Sadly, this complaint went mostly unanswered and in 2022, the exhibit was reinstalled with some improvements but also still many problems. It used to be in my travel path every day and after dark, I would get an almost immediate headache as I was passing by it.

Michele in front of the Sonic Runway in 2022

November 5, 2017

ADA Coordinator, City of San Jose
200 East Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA 95113–1905

Dear ADA Coordinator:

While I appreciate art a great deal, I struggle when the size of the exhibit and other elements impede my access. From the point of setup of the most recent Burning Man art exhibit through Saturday, November 4, 2017, there were many issues with the exhibit that took up almost the full length of City Hall.

I travel from North 3rd Street to South 7th Street to work on a daily basis typically via Santa Clara Street. On my way to work, I can easily travel either side of Santa Clara but at night time, I prefer to stick to the City Hall side until I reach at least 4th Street. Earlier in the setup, large paths in front of city hall were blocked due to the construction of the art piece (with no directional signs posted to excuse the interruptions). The distance between the front of the exhibit and the street was inadequate to safely AND comfortably navigate the sidewalk outside of the exhibit via a wheelchair without running into unnecessary bumps with the curb cutouts on either side of 5th street, the street lamps, news boxes and such.

On the opening night of the exhibit (Friday, November 3rd), the people in attendance made traveling anywhere close to City Hall an absolute nightmare. If a rally or protest was planned at City Hall, people would have been arrested (or at least asked to disperse) as the flow of pedestrian traffic was almost fully obstructed. So I tried to do my normal route after I was finished at work around 7:30 pm. I could not travel down the tube as people were more interested in the light show rather than pedestrian traffic. Also, there were people gathered at a food truck that prevented me from taking the less-desired path on the outside of the “art” piece and a significantly large number of people were congregated on the inside of it as well. After multiple close calls and talking loudly so people could hear me and move out of my way, I managed to make it through the throng of people.

While I am aware of the noise laws (or lack thereof) in the downtown area, loud music past 9–10 pm is very annoying as I live within hearing distance of this most recent “party.” Also, the definition of loud may need to be considered because when someone is playing music at a reasonable level but the bass is off the charts, the loud booming is heard over a much greater distance.

Thank you for the new transition covers to protect pedestrians from the power cords. They are an improvement from what was used with the last problematic art exhibit.

Thank you for your time.

Michele Mashburn



Michele Mashburn

Disability Advocate, Educator, & Activist * Cat Lover * Opinions are mine