Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why Reject Alpine Road Sidewalk Expansion

This article was submitted to the Menlo Park Almanac last May (2006) but covers some of the history about why the Committee for Green Foothills thinks moving ahead with the Alpine Road sidewalk expansion is not wise. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on Tuesday, March 27th at 10 am on a recommendation to reject Stanford's offer to build this trail.

Guest Opinion
Almanac News
May 19, 2006

On Tuesday, May 23, from 4-7 pm, at Woodland School’s Multi-Use Room in Ladera, Supervisors Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon will solicit community reaction to Stanford’s proposed expansion of the existing sidewalk/trail along Alpine Road.

On behalf of Committee for Green Foothills, I urge San Mateo County and Portola Valley to decline Stanford’s “offer” of $11.2 million to expand our perfectly usable Alpine sidewalk/trail. An expanded sidewalk does not repay the debt Stanford owes to the community from its expansive development, and foisting new impacts on our creeks and communities to solve Stanford’s problems cannot be allowed.

As mitigation for the increased need for recreational opportunities resulting from the 5 million square feet of housing and academic development allowed by its General Use Permit, Stanford agreed to dedicate, construct, and maintain a trail crossing Stanford lands on the Santa Clara side of Los Trancos/San Francisquito Creeks (the “C-1” Trail).

Last December, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors (Liz Kniss dissenting) capitulated to Stanford’s intense lobbying and punted the “C-1” Trail out of Santa Clara County and onto the Alpine Road sidewalk/trail. This facility is not on Stanford lands, is already constructed, and there is no funding proposed by Stanford for maintenance.

Instead of being a bona fide mitigation, the proposed urban sidewalk would cause significant new adverse environmental and community impacts.

Specifically, the so-called “improvements” would intrude into sensitive creek and riparian habitats, armor the creek banks with engineered walls in ten locations, require major cutting into the hillside opposite Bishop Lane, remove trees that screen Ladera Oaks tennis lights and noise from Ladera neighbors, and cross many private driveways at Stanford Weekend Acres.

Spending an astronomical $11.2 million to expand a 3 mile long existing trail in Portola Valley and San Mateo County is not only wasteful, but is inconsistent with Alpine Road’s scenic corridor policies and numerous County, State, and Federal watershed protection mandates.

Stanford has said that San Mateo and Portola Valley can modify the plans. But Stanford will not agree to any relocation of the trail away from busy Alpine Road, onto Stanford lands, or across the creek into Santa Clara County.

San Mateo County and Portola Valley should reject Stanford’s attempt to fulfill its mitigation obligations with an unsafe, environmentally harmful, and unnecessary project. Redirecting the $11.2 million back to Santa Clara will provide far greater public recreational benefits to Stanford and its neighboring communities.

Lennie Roberts, Legislative Advocate
Committee for Green Foothills

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