Geraldine Steinberg, first woman elected to board of supervisors, dies

Geraldine Steinberg

Geraldine Steinberg, a Palo Alto resident who was the first woman appointed to the Santa Clara County Planning Commission and the first woman elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, has died. She was 95.

Steinberg, who died on May 22, was born on May 30, 1925.

She studied at Vassar College and went to law school at the University of Illinois for two years before moving to the Bay Area in 1952.

Steinberg completed her law degree at Stanford in 1963. Her involvement in county government began in 1965 when she served as deputy county counsel.

In 1967, Steinberg went into private practice, but her work on land use issues led her to be nominated for a seat on the Planning Commission in the early 1970s. She demonstrated her commitment to the environment as well as planned growth to ensure the region’s long-term economic vitality.

When Supervisor Victor Calvo won a seat in the state Assembly in 1974, the board of supervisors appointed Steinberg to replace him. She became the first woman elected to that board in 1976. She would become the first woman to chair the board as well.

As supervisor, Steinberg encouraged the purchase of open space adjacent to a small county park, creating the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.

Steinberg also served on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

She chaired the Santa Clara County General Plan Commission that resulted in rezoning the foothills as open space while supporting managed growth in the flat lands.

Steinberg also founded the East Palo Alto Community Law Project, now known as Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, offering low or no-cost legal services to those who could not afford them. She served as its first executive director.

Steinberg was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Goodwin B. Steinberg.

She is survived by her children, Joan Laurence of Sfat, Israel; Robert (Alice) Steinberg of Palo Alto; and Thomas (Shaindel) Steinberg of Jerusalem; as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.