News

Matadero Creek Trail project heading to Midtown

Bike/pedestrian trail would run past homes, connect with other bike boulevards

A proposed trail for bicyclists and pedestrians through the center of Midtown Palo Alto is taking some residents by surprise, and they aren't sure whether it will be such a good thing, they said.

The 1.3-mile Matadero Creek Trail would run along Matadero Creek levees and access roads, stretching from West Bayshore Road to Alma Street. City officials say it will be a community asset by providing off-road access to Palo Alto schools, including El Carmelo and Ohlone elementary schools, and parks, including Hoover, Seale and Greer.

The project is part of the Stanford and Palo Alto Trails Program, a plan to expand and create more than 8 miles of recreational corridors in and around the Stanford University campus and Palo Alto. The program would eventually link San Francisco Bay trails to Stanford University and Arastradero Preserve. The trail is also a key element of the city's 2012 Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan and would connect with future bike boulevards along Ross, Greer and Louis roads, city officials said.

The trail's feasibility study isn't even scheduled to begin until this fall, but Midtown neighborhood leaders are already concerned that portions of the trail will come too close to homes.

Sheri Furman, chairwoman of the Midtown Residents Association, last month pointed out homes with backyards adjacent to the proposed path. She said she did not think most people knew the trail would run right past their houses.

Midtown residents have expressed concern about privacy issues, the potential for littering, 24-hour noise, dangerous traffic on streets the trail would connect to, and property devaluation, neighborhood leaders said.

Julie Nolan, a Waverley Street resident whose backyard would abut the creek trail, said her home has been burglarized, and the robber is thought to have come through the backyard. The trail is located about 6 feet from her home, she said.

"The plan is for a 24/7 lighted trail. There are issues about safety and crime and who will police it. People will go by all the time. It would go along very close to a lot of houses. How is that managed? Do we really want people to be going past backyards at 2 in the morning?" she said.

Nolan also said that the proposed path would cross four-lane streets, creating danger. Bicyclists and pedestrians would ride or stroll along the quiet path and then suddenly come upon intersections with heavy traffic, she said.

At Middlefield Road the trail would cross where there isn't a stoplight, although crosswalk markings could be improved and a rapid-flashing beacon is recommended, she said.

"I don't see how that could possibly be a safe route for any child going to school on a bike," she said, noting that a safer school route is a selling point for the trail.

Chuck Bradley, a 47-year resident whose home also backs up to the proposed trail route, said he and other neighbors were caught by surprise by the proposal. He voiced similar concerns about safety, potential crime and noise.

He said he thinks the side streets do an adequate job of providing access and would link up with the planned Adobe Creek overpass, for example.

"I don't feel there is a strong need to run a hiking and biking trail down the creek," he said.

He also wondered who -- and how many people -- would benefit from the trail.

"We need to know if this investment is well-spent," he said.

City Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez said Palo Alto has received a $1.5 million grant for the project from Santa Clara County. The city could provide about $500,000 as part of its 2014 Capital Improvement Projects budget.

The majority of the trail would follow an existing water-district maintenance road along the north side of the creek, except from Middlefield to Ross roads, where it would run south of the creek, according to Stanford and Palo Alto Trails Program documents.

The existing gravel maintenance road would be replaced with a decomposed granite surface, with decorative railings in places for safety and low-level lighting. New signage and improved crosswalks would be added at intersections with major streets.

The trail was introduced during the overall Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan adopted by the City Council in July. But the configuration is not set in stone. The feasibility study would include identifying preferred trail alignments and an environmental assessment, Rodriguez said.

The city plans extensive community outreach, he added. A preliminary project schedule could be developed this spring as part of the 2014 Capital Improvement Program, but until funds become available in July, no formal project planning will begin, Rodriguez said.

More information about the trail project is available here.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by just say no to NIMBYs
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I can't believe the paper is printing all this NIMBY BS with no quotes from potential trail users. The fact is that east-west bicycle routes in Palo Alto are pretty terrible. Bicycle routes in general in the southern part of town are pretty terrible. In the past, the city has spent almost all of its bicycle projects budget in the northern part of town. This bike path is a terrific addition. I would pay extra for a home along this route.

If the Middlefield intersection is dangerous, then put in a button-actuated stop light. We keep hearing about horrific car vs car crashes at Middlefield & Loma Verde or Middlefield & Charleston. Bicyclists are afraid to ride in the southern part of town because of the huge number of reckless drivers on the few existing cross-town streets. A separated bike path will be hugely safer, especially for kids biking to school. There isn't enough room for large groups of kids riding to school at the same time on those other streets.

This trail would also be a great way for Midtown residents to visit the Midtown shopping district (Safeway, etc.). Even adults are often scared to bicycle on Colorado Ave because of the narrow streets and no bike lanes west of Middlefield.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2013 at 7:13 am

This is a wonderful idea which I have been advocating for many years. We particularly need a good method of getting Paly students from south Palo Alto to meet Bryant which doesn't pass elementary schools and this can do that.

Of course people who have property up against the creek will not want to appear to be happy about this, but of course the creek has always been there and this has always been a possibility and they should have been aware of that when they moved there.

Stevens Creek trail in Mountain View is a wonderful right of way and I envision that this could be the same.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

@Res, "the creek has always been there" -- YES. "and this [trail] has always been a possibility" -- NO. Well, anything is a possibility, like telling people who bought on Oregon Av in the fifties that they should have known an expressway would be built through their bedroom, or people on Louis should be aware of the possibility HSR can be rerouted down their street.

@just-say-no, "I would pay extra for a home along this route." This raises a question I haven't gotten answered yet: Will residents along the route be legally allowed to access this trail from their backyard or will that be expressly prohibited?

Cedric?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Right of way
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2013 at 8:34 am

This path will be using the existing city-owned service corridor along the creek, right? No homes will be condemned or property bought. This is hugely different from building a new car expressway.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

Seems like a good idea.
Can a map/graphic be linked, please? I clicked on the link at the end of the article and it could not be found.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by route
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

You can see Matadero Creek on Google Maps. It is parallel to and half way between Colorado Ave and Loma Verde Ave. I believe the existing service road is along the north bank of the creek.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

It is foolish to have thought that since there was a service road at the creek that at some stage it would not be a thoroughfare.

Saying that children crossing Middlefield at the creek would be more dangerous than at Colorado or Loma Verde shows that anyone thinking that is not familiar with either of those intersections. Since there is no designated turn signal at either, they are both much more dangerous intersections and both have many school children crossing on bikes and on foot. A designated bike and pedestrian crossing similar to the crossings on Fabian with lit flashing lights embedded in the road would be much safer than trying to negoitiate crossing at the two aforementioned crossings where cars are also trying to cross and turn.

Additionally, there are many people trying to jaywalk across Middlefield at the creek because of the Winter Lodge. Many times their parking lot is full and cars have to park in the residential streets opposite which means that people are trying to cross here. A pedestrian controlled flashing light here would be additional safety for the Winter Lodge patrons also.

I still think this is an excellent idea.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CreekNeighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

There are stoplights on Middlefield Road at Colorado and at Loma Verde. The trail plan would create a pedestrian crossing across 4 lanes of traffic, without a stoplight, unique in Palo Alto. There is already a trail through Hoover Park, but it is closed at night. The proposed trail would be lighted and open 24/7. As for creek neighbors expecting that there would be a trail someday, by that logic anyone who lives on a street in Palo Alto could expect that someday it would be turned into a thoroughfare. The creek right-of-way is owned by Santa Clara Valley Water District for maintenance of the channel. The maintenance road switches sides from north to south of the channel and back again. It is blocked to the west of Waverley Street by a private home.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

The service road to the creek has always been as likely as a main arterial becoming an expressway (Middlefield, Alma) or that Caltrain would be electrified and improved. Lack of foresight of these possibilities together with lower property values or lack of interested buyers of adjacent properties have always been on the cards. Realtors who tell you otherwise that there is no chance of change are just doing whatever they need to do to find a buyer and close a deal. Do you really believe everything a realtor tells you?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Soul Brother
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]. Seems the money could be spent fixing the roads an sidewalks that are in such disrepair


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 28YearsInPA
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2013 at 9:33 am

I completely agree with Soul Brother. What's wrong with using Loma Verde or Colorado as East/West routes to connect with Bryant? Having grown up in Palo Alto and ridden my bike along these routes hundreds of times I've never felt unsafe or inefficient in my transit...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Nothing wrong with using the streets for bike riding, the only problem is that they are streets. Parked cars along with moving cars, if we are to increase bike ridership adults. Would it help to create fast, efficient ways to bike to and from places.

Because sooner or later we are going to keep catering to cars, their drivers, passengers and all of their needs and wants.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by traffic engineering
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Colorado Ave is a poor alternative to a dedicated bike path, especially for children bicycling to school. Traffic engineering studies have proven that younger bicyclists (and their parents) feel much safer on dedicated bike paths than on streets with parallel parked cars or no bike lanes, and Colorado Ave west of Middlefield is doubly bad. Yes, many bicyclists do use the road because there is no real alternative right now, but cars are constantly speeding around them, cutting them off at corners, and/or blasting their horns at them to get out of the way. A dedicated bike path is a win for everyone since it will attract more people to bicycling and thus take more cars off the road, reducing congestion for car drivers.

The price for this project is very small for the length of trail since the trail mostly exists already. There is no reason to delay. Get it done now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CreekNeighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm

The planned Matadero Creek "Trail" consists of a series of path segments connected by dangerous intersections where bikes cross pedestrian sidewalks and busy neighborhood roads without any stop signs or stop lights. Children on bikes will be safe only on the short segments. Once anyone on a bike arrives at a cross street, they are in danger as is anyone walking by or driving by. Why should taxpayer money be spent on this dangerous project? The "trail" cannot connect directly to the Bryant St. Bike boulevard because of the house blocking the creek maintenance road at Waverley St. A bike boulevard down California Avenue would be far safer and would connect the California St. bike/pedestrian underpass to Jordan Middle School and, with a short deviation, to the Oregon bike/pedestrian overpass over 101.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I would not call it a dedicated bike path if it has pedestrians wandering around on it. As a cyclist I can always get to my destination quicker on a street than on a sidewalk. What will be the speed limit on this path?

Looking for a map? A definitive 900 kilobyte pdf is at -- Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by traffic engineering
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Turning California Ave into a bicycle boulevard is a fine idea, if they can ever figure out how to add a traffic light for westbound traffic. However, that route does zero to help the kids trying to get to the elementary schools south of Oregon Expressway. The problem is that east-west bike routes south of Oregon are very poor and the proposed path would be a big addition to the community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PatrickD
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 19, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I think this trail is a fantastic idea. I'm looking forward to using it, and hopefully we'll be able to sort out connecting Park Ave to the other side of Alma.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2013 at 6:00 am

An official connection from this trail to Park Blvd would sure help, given that we can no longer make our own way across the tracks anywhere between Meadow and that lame bike trap at Cal Av. Something like the Homer Tunnel would be fine, except another traffic light would be required on Alma, unless the tunnel extended under Alma as well. The Homer Tunnel only took 7 years (1998-2005) and $5 million, barely a 100% overrun. Alignment near Matadero Creek looks impossible without some major rearrangement of property. But major rearrangement is on the horizon when we shut down Frys and have Sobrato build apartments for 3000 new residents. Should be able to extract some money there for connectivity. El Carmelo (across the tracks) would be the nearest elementary school or maybe Ventura can be reopened. Barron Park would entail sending kids across 100 feet of El Camino rush hour traffic every morning. Spirited discussions over development will continue to entertain us through the foreseeable future -- the price of a healthy economy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2013 at 8:25 am

A dedicated bike path is definitely much safer than the e/w routes at present for bikes. Not so sure about pedestrians though. Bikes will travel faster than pedestrians and people walking with strollers and little kids or dogs are always unpredictable. I suggest some method of designating bikes keep right, peds keep left, as overtaking will need to occur, and then what happens with all 4 groups as oncoming traffic. Perhaps pedestrians would be safer on Loma Verde and Colorado.

K61DB


 +   Like this comment
Posted by keep right
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2013 at 9:24 am

The safety protocol for bike paths is the same as for cars on roads. Everyone keep right except to pass. That includes pedestrians. The proposed path should be wide enough for 2-way traffic if everyone keeps right. Bicyclists should ring their bells and no one should wear earphones.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by park blvd
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

I agree that connecting this trail to Park Blvd would be fantastic. If the city wants to make the California Ave business district more popular, they have got to make it easier to get to for southern Palo Alto residents. The existing pedestrian tunnel at California Ave is too difficult to reach, too narrow, and has those dangerous traps that prevent many types of bikes from using it (e.g. child carriers).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2013 at 9:40 am

Oops, yes, got my left and right mixed up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CreekNeighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2013 at 10:15 am

Regarding bike routes south of Oregon Expressway, The June 2012 City of Palo Alto Bicycle+Pedestrian Transportation Plan proposes to create N-S bike boulevards along both Ross and Greer. An E-W bike boulevard is proposed for Moreno-Amarillo. The planned Matadero Creek "trail" allows access only at Greer, Louis, Ross, Middlefield, Cowper, and Waverley. West of Waverley, the route turns north on Waverley, then to El Dorado, then connects to Bryant St. If the City wants to improve access to the California Avenue business district, then the existing underpass should be widened and improved.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2013 at 10:56 am

If they don't open Kipling access, someone will do it for them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nick Baldo
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Please do this! Matadero Creek could be so much more than a glorified drainage ditch. A trail would be a huge asset to the community and a key piece of active transportation infrastructure. I'm baffled that some are hesitant to support this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Nick, I am hesitant to support it because we have finite funds and finite staff resources. Is this really the top priority that we want rather than anything else? I think this trail would be wonderful if all the connections could be worked out, but I think that we would be better off concentrating elsewhere in the short term.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I worry about the maintenance headaches. Thieves steal copper wire faster than we can bury it -- Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2013 at 11:19 am

This is a bad idea. First of all it is a waste of money the City doesn't have. Second, it isn't a safe idea. It is one more area for the police to monitor and they won't be able to do this with their cars. It allows access for criminals to access people's back yards and no ready access for people to escape from if they are accosted. This is a stupid idea.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by no theft issues
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

People who worry about increased theft are missing the point. The path already exists and it is easily accessible by potential thieves. In most places, there is a simple chain blocking access to the trail at road crossings. That's not going to scare away thieves.

If anything, thefts along this corridor will go down if the trail is open to the public. A steady stream of people on the trail and nighttime lighting will scare away thieves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

Every time something new is built in this town, the NIMBYs come up with all sorts of reasons to not build.

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Use locking gate access to the path that lock at night
2. Upgrade to higher fences or grow vines for backyard privacy
3. Install some backyard security lights. A good idea anywhere.

By the way. It's a lot easier to rob a house with a good alley or back street than a trail.

Unsafe crossings for kids? Add a stop street, crossing or whatever.
These are not reasons to say no to a bay to alma street creek trail.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I bike. I drive. I like this idea.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I hope that the Weekly will balance this report (before they go to press)with some quotes from project supporters (of which there are many) and some more information about the benefits of the proposal. (Also, a map that shows how the project would integrate with other bike and motor vehicle routes would be helpful.) It is rather misleading to present so many quotes from the opponents' viewpoint without some balance from supporters.

That said, these residents are raising some concerns which might be addressed in the design process so it's good to be raising them early the planning process.

Instead of polarized positions, let's listen to each other and work to find solutions that meet community needs as best as possible. The Weekly could help with that process by disseminating good information that helps both sides understand each other and available options better.

Thanks to all for contributing to functional grass roots democratic process by being disciplined and polite as we work together. Let's set an example our Congress can follow. :-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm

This is a very bad idea. It will provide criminals a convenient access to and escape route from the backyards of many residence. They can scout the targets under the easy disguise of a jogger. Police will have a hard time patrolling this long trail and questioning suspicious activities. I will be very worried if this trail is right at the back of my house.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I would not let my child bike alone down an isolated trail hidden behind house fences. An ideal spot for an adult male to prowl and expose himself to children, or if there is landscaping providing hidden spots, worse. This happened to my elementary school age sister on a bike trail hidden from sight in exactly this situation.

Even if the police pay for an additional police presence, there are likely to be long stretches when the trail cannot be monitored. Perhaps projections show there will be so many people using the trail at all times that safety for children is assured. At night there have been incidents along the bike trail behind Paly, which is also hidden from view and lonely and I know people who avoid using it at night.

These concerns are not enough to not build the trail if the road crossing issues can be addressed. And perhaps it will be so popular that there will be large numbers of adult bikers at all times. But parents should be warned about the dangers of children biking alone down an isolated trail.

I would hope that the houses that back up on the trail would be allowed to build 10' tall fences, and grants to do so for those unable to afford to do this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Any trail still has to cross Middlefield and Alma. The only safe way to do that is with stop lights. Middlefield is already cluttered with stoplights in the Midtown area. Do we need another between Loma Verde and Colorado? A building a tunnel under the tracks next to Alma....not inexpensive. Someone mentioned that the trail would cross four lanes of traffic at Middlefield without a stoplight. I highly doubt that. I think everyone is getting carried away and not looking at the obvious. Bike riders will find their paths. Even when you create one (Bryant Street, north to south) you have riders on Alma where they shouldn't be. Real safe.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by KF
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I have been hearing about this trail for at least 6 months, both at city council meetings, in the news paper, and in neighborhood email lists, and thought it was a great idea. I think there is some responsibility to stay informed, if you are going to be outraged at any change.

The North south bike routes are safe, and accessible. The east/west routes are weak and fractured. This will add some safety and continuity, and make bike commuting and recreation easier. And this will have an effect on auto traffic, as many people in PA commute by bicycle.

I am sure the city can fence the trail to prevent access to the back yards.

But this note will have no effect on the naysayers, who will heap their vitriol on anyone with an opposing opinion. And that is why I usually stay off of PAonline


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CreekNeighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm

After I read about the Matadero Ck Trail plan in the Weekly in November, I surveyed 12 close neighbors of the creek and none had heard of the plan. Of those 12, 10 expressed concerns ranging from crime to garbage to graffiti to noise (the concrete channel amplifies the noise). The planned trail route is in fact fractured. It consists of path segments divided by dangerous intersections. And the plan as detailed by the city in its 2012 Bicycle+Pedestrian Transportation Plan document specifically describes installation of a pedestrian crossing across Middlefield Road, not a stoplight. The planned trail connects Waverley St. to Greer. It does not connect businesses, nor schools. The bike lane along Loma Verde is a much better route.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bill g
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Here the City staff goes again. Santa Clara Co. Taxpayers, you and i, are giving $1.5M while Palo Alto Taxpayers, you and I, are giving $500,000 of scarce money for this project.

After the initial cost there will be continual money needed from the General Fund to maintain the "trail" and the 24/7 lighting (daytime as well?). We don't have enough maintenance money for existing structures; so we add another? How short sighted.

Reasonable objections are ignored as if they didn't exist, e.g. user safety day and night. Only 8 to 12 police are on duty at any given time to patrol the several hundred miles of existing roads and sidewalks. This would simply add another impossible load to the "thin blue line" - and on foot instead of in cars. What a way to reduce effectiveness of our security.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm

The worries about trails increasing thefts are unwarranted, and there is lots of data to prove that. Thieves do not want to haul big screen TVs, laptops and bags of jewelry on their shoulders on a ped/bike path. They want to toss them into a car and get away as fast as they can. Locking the trail at night would make it useless as a commute route and would hurt the chances of getting any funds from regional sources, which favor transportation routes open 24/7 over recreational routes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

If you are interested in studies on the effects of bike paths on property value, this paper from the University of Delaware pulls together a lot of data. The studies don't seem to be of very high quality, but at least they do suggest a neutral to positive effect for nearby homes.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CreekNeighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2013 at 10:20 pm

The burglar who broke into our house, located next to Matadero Creek, kicked in the back door and carried away laptops, silver, and cash -- in a backpack and a pillow case. Now we have a security system. The Matadero Creek access road (future trail) segments are short and it's easy to carry away loot on a bike. As for the value of bike paths to communities, in this case the "trail" would be forced through a built-out neighborhood across busy streets and sidewalks.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Greg Bell
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

I'm generally in favor of more bike paths away from traffic; I ride my bike a fair amount through Palo Alto.

I am wondering how appealing this trail will be for hikers and bikers. A good portion of the existing creek concrete wall is very low, about 1 foot in height. The trail will need a fence about 6 feet high to keep people from biking or falling into the creek (really, have a look near Cowper or Waverly). Seems for a good portion of the creek trail distance, people will be hiking/biking between two chain-link or other fences, making this more a utility path. This may not be appealing and our money may not be well spent.

Full disclosure: I live near Cowper on the south side of Matadero Creek.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by utility path
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 9:27 am

Other creek-side bike paths like Mountain View's Stevens Creek Trail or Permanente Creek Trail have little or no fencing between the path and the creek and I never hear about anyone accidentally falling into the creek. That is not an issue.

Even if the creek is not wonderful to look at, it is still wonderful if it helps you get where you are going without having cars blasting your horns at you all the time. This is a great addition to the currently sparse bicycle routes in southern Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A thought abou tthe existing burglary problem
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

I think it sounds like a great project. I suspect it will be used more than some think, because bicyclists really need safe east/west routes.

What I am reading here is that the existing creek maintenance path has created an EXISTING burglary problem. It's possible that new bike and pedestrian traffic might alleviate the existing burglary problem rather than exacerbate it. Putting other trail users out there might create a less isolated access point. In any case, I think security is an issue that's worth considering in the design process.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Perfct
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Great idea. Full speed ahead


 +   Like this comment
Posted by You People
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm

All the fear mongering "Ooga Booga" horrible things will happen crowd may have lots of fears, but that does not mean they are rational or based in any data.
The Steven's Creek trail is Mtn View's jewel and the EXACT SAME FEARS were vented by a few cranks and NIMBYs
These fear have never played out. Let me repeat that: The fears of the opponents nevr played out.

We have a local example of how this works. Look at it and learn.
Try just for once to be as smart as the folks in Mountain View.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Random selection of Stevens Creek Trail articles in the Voice:

Web Link -- Attempted robbery 10/16/2012

Indecent exposure 12/5/2011

Indecent exposure 9/25/2011

Indecent exposure 7/15/2010

Indecent exposure 4/12/2010

Web Link -- Attempted sexual assault 11/29/2009

Web Link -- Gang activity, complaint about assaults and muggings 4/29/2008

(Forum would not accept all the URLs I found, so I deleted the links to the indecent exposures. They are searchable.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by south palo alto supporter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm

This would be welcome - and even more welcome if it links well to the new bridge over 101 (I can only hope). Would be great if we could share the road, but people simply aren't attentive enough drivers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by All Info
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 23, 2013 at 9:16 am

So yes, as you can see, the trail does not have any significantly higher number of crimes than other areas of MV:
Web Link
Look at the numbers total numbers reported, not just cherry picked crimes and it looks like the trail is just as safe as anywhere else...maybe even safer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ma MICHEL
a resident of University South
on Jan 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Wonderful idea. A ride across town with out cars. super.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just me
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Bad idea. Seriously, we do not other more important things to work on?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of Midtown
on May 1, 2013 at 12:12 am

This is not a good idea. Emerson street near the creek is currently a cul-de-sec and children can play safely on the street. If the trail is built the increased traffic will disrupt our neighborhood and make it unsafe for our children to play. It would also introduce safety issue especially to the houses near the creek.

Emerson street is already suffering from the noise on Alma street, and will potentially be affected by the high-speed rail to be built. Building a light trail on our street is going to make things worse and can do long-term damage to our street.

Whoever came up with this idea is clearly short-sighted.

Please vote to reject this idea.

--resident in the 2800 block of Emerson Street.


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Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 1, 2013 at 8:51 am

@member - what increased traffic are you complaining about? The only people using this trail will be bicyclists and pedestrians and I doubt they will have any affect on children playing in the street. If anything, your children's safety will increase because they can now use this trail instead of the street.

No one is going to drive their cars to use this trail; the whole point is to bring a trail closer to peoples homes so they no longer need to get in their cars.


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Posted by Public Comments from City's website
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:32 am

Public Comments from the City's website (Web Link):

Public Comments:
Consider safety & privacy in feasibility study
Make purpose/extent (benefit) project goals – clear. Define objective for project.
Sound wall at Winder Lodge – should stay.
How is the feasibility framed? Look at alternatives.
Children to Middlefield. No easy access from midtown shopping center.
What is the demand? Partial strategy of route. Gauge demand for local study. What is the final demand number?
Who is the intended user?
What are the other solutions? What are the goals or costs? Mixing ped and bicycles is more dangerous.
What is the alternative or other option?
Most children go to JLS
Midtown shops - bicycle access (ride on sidewalk). Make it safer.
Why wasn't there better noticing? Why does RFP only show creek alignment?
Can we enter the minutes into the public record?
Change the title of RFP.
Robbery problem in the area. Jumping fence. What about Trail curfew?
What is the extent of the project? Is it a citywide trail system or local trail?
Bike/pedestrian on same path is dangerous.
Opposed to lighting. Opposed to 24 hour access.
Observation: staff is overselling. What is the objective of this trail
Who will close the gates?
Intersection crossings are dangerous
Liability to City – must make safe
What is demand for use of trail.
Building half trail/build to hypothetical routes is an issue
What is Maintenance cost/Cost to the City - to build the trail
Bridge over Matadero – should connect to Sterling Canal
What about Cal Ave underpass?
The most dangerous condition is freeway. Take money to go under freeway.
What will happen w the zig zag of the creek?
Crosswalks provide illusion of safety. Creek is ugly. Not really a creek.
Just because we have the money, do we have to spend it?
Potential property devaluation.
Don't feel safe w the bedroom windows near trail.
Scared for community and kids. Safety of creek. Bike accident where people fly in air. Lit cigarette is fire hazard. Privacy.
Midtown crime alley. Romantic notion of a trail.
Need alternative route to compare to.
Who will monitor/lock gate nightly? Should work with Police.
Change title to Matadero Flood Control (not creek trail)
This is a Bridge to nowhere (nowhere to nowhere)
Crossing freeway is dangerous.
Use this money on Adobe Creek Bridge
Community input based alternative should be part of feasibility study
Intersection crossing are dangerous..
Address/propose safety concerns at intersections
Trails should be policed
Call it East/West Midtown trail
Cross-walks at busy intersection are very dangerous – not a good solution. Esp Loma Verde & Colorado crossing.
Matadero Creek is concrete bed and ugly, not aesthetic
Provide Alternate/parallel to route on Matadero Creek
Provide off-road trail vs on-road trail – Provide purpose
Identify objective of project
City is spending money to have dangerous crossing at intersections
Citizens have to add crime protection because of trail project
Pavement will make skateboarders use trail at all hours/night.
Water get very high in winter – dangerous for kids
Kids sit on wall, bicyclists could fall off and onto the creek
Littering onto residents' houses a concern.
Privacy – Passerbys will look into houses
Bedroom windows are near path


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Posted by Note from MRA Website
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

Note from MRA Website:

"Note: MRA is neither supporting nor opposing the Matadero Creek Trail project, but simply facilitating the dissemination of information."


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Posted by Notes from MRA Matadero Creek Trail Meeting – April 16, 2013
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:34 am

Notes from MRA Matadero Creek Trail Meeting – April 16, 2013 (Web Link):


Presentation by Jaime Rodriquez

•Want to hear what should be included in feasibility study, so a better scope of work can be prepared.
•Matadero Creek Trail is part of the city bicycle/pedestrian Transportation Plan; E-W from 101 to Alma. Want to connect it to the Bryant Bike Boulevard.
•Bike plans were approved in July, 2012.
•Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) on't allow lighting along the trail, so it won't be a 24-hour trail. Curfew required by SCVWD.
•City will have to maintain path instead of SCVWD.
•City committed to feasibility study when applying for a grant for the trail; City pays for study.
•9 months to complete feasibility study.
•If the project isn't feasible, City won't get grant money.
•In response to multiple resident concerns around safety, privacy, crime, etc. City agreed that MITIGATION could be discussed earlier, and put into the FEASIBILITY STUDY. County grant kicks in after the feasibility study, with local match.
•Jaime agreed to incorporate community feedback into the draft RFP.



Attendee Comments

Notification

•Most had never heard of project.
•Why didn't City notify residents sooner?
•I never got a personal letter, even when a house is built near me I get a letter.
•Jaime: Part of Pedestrian and Bike Transportation Plan. Multiple meetings, and much advertisement. In WEEKLY and in Utility bills.

Costs

•Jaime: Feasibility study will happen. Cost is $100,000.
•Estimated project cost is $2.5 million; grant is $1.5 million.
•Stanford is paying for the Stanford Perimeter Trail. The Grant for the project came from Santa Clara County, which pays for the Matadero Creek Trail.
•How much more money will this cost (e.g. maintenance, monitoring)?

Objectives

•What are objectives? Need to know in order to determine the best way to spend the money.
•Need a conceptual framework, value proposition.
•Jaime: The bike plan wanted off-road trails. People probably didn't think of streets needing to be crossed.
•There needs to be demonstrated demand for the specific trail at issue which hasn't yet been proven.
•RFP seems to be only looking at the Matadero creekside alignment.
•It feels like the City is spending money just because we have it via the $1.5 million grant and there's a "use it or lose it" attitude.
•The project is a "bridge to nowhere."
•Strategy to build part of trail and hope for the rest is a FLAWED strategy. The concept being publicized is a bike route that extends from Alma to the Baylands. However, we only have funding for a limited part of this trail. Assessment of demand and the feasibility study should be based on the more limited plan for which we have conditional funding.
•Should use money to figure out how to safety cross under 280 on Page Mill.
•Feasibility study should be more about soliciting community input. Ask "is this a good way of spending money?"
•Many feel we are stuck with Jaime's vision.
•What is the purpose of the trail? Safety? Aesthetics?
•City is OVERSELLING this.
•According to Jaime, all of the "community" has equal weight in the decision.

Alternatives

•Need alternatives. To have alternatives you must have objectives.
•Thinking of alternatives to the path is critical.
•Concerns for connections to the Midtown Center.
•More important to get overpasses over Alma.
•Consider a bridge over Matadero to connect the Sterling Canal trail from Greer to Loma Verde.
•Must have alternative routes. Project should be called the East-West Midtown Trail because calling it the Matadero Creek Trail limits what's looked at.
•There's a need for some sort of east-west connection, but not along the creek.
•Jaime: The feasibility study will look at alternate routes.
Usage / Aesthetics
•The maintenance path is a trail in name only.
•There is nothing aesthetic about walking along the creek, which is actually a culvert. Not a place where folks would go for a stroll
•The idea of a trail is a romantic notion, but it's really an alley way.
•Aesthetics: "Path" is UGLY – space is between concrete wall and fence.

Safety / Crime

•Consider City's liability; need to understand demand for trail; what are the real costs of maintenance?
•Is the city and SCVWD prepared to bear the additional liability of any deaths or injuries due to this? People may sue the city and SCVWD if they get hurt because the city opened up the creek banks to public access.
•Who will close the path at night?
•Who will monitor fences, graffiti, curfew, etc.?
•Jaime: Feasibility study will include working with PAPD on safety issues.
•Many concerns about trail crossing streets, particularly mid-block. Study must include safety issues.
•Pedestrians and bicycles – not safe for both on same trail.
•Path will be less safe than areas along the street.
•Concerns about bikes crossing streets, especially during rush hour traffic and near El Carmelo. Crosswalks are not adequate.
•A former bicycle safety coordinator at El Carmelo school argued that the bicycle trail could give an illusion of safety, just as crosswalks near schools often given an illusion of safety. Just because there is a crosswalk or a designated bike trail doesn't mean that the route is safer. In fact, it may be more dangerous as it gives the illusion of safety.
•At night it will be the Midtown Crime Alley.
•Who is going to patrol and make sure no one is on path at night?
•People will have to get burglar alarms for their homes.
•If paved, the skate boarders will use this... I already have problems after 10PM with skateboarder noise.
•Skate boards could flip in, sometimes bikes accidents happen when bikes fly into the air...they could go into the creek.
•Who will be using the trail? Teenagers at night.
•Our property - back yard - is very secluded. The kids go around with no clothes. I am very worried about people going by my property. They could see my kids, it is easy to jump over the fence.
•I fear people who smoke might flip a cigarette into my yard and we could have a fire.
•When one considers all the factors, I am scared...there is a whole host of things not considered.
•In the winter when the water is high, it is very dangerous. People will die. kids sit on the ledge. They could fall in or be pushed.
•Install speed bumps and stop lights - not popular with residents.
•Bikes coming out of the blind path - cars won't see them, a disaster waiting to happen.
•Safety and flooding are big concerns.
•This is a bad project with a half a dozen dangerous intersections.
•As a biker, I wouldn't cross mid-block on Middlefield. I always cross at the light.

Other

•Almost everyone in attendance thinks the plan is not a good idea.
•This isn't a green project...people would have to add things.
•The concrete lining of the creek is likely to amplify noise.
•Concerns for property values. One person also mentioned that her house was her sole asset and the devaluation of property values would prevent her from getting loans.
•There is a petition to STOP this project.
•Several people want minutes of this meeting – to compare what was talked about to the RFP. City reminds us that this is a COMMUNITY project, not just Midtown. Sheri Furman reminded group that the RFP is on the MRA website.
•Jaime: Will update the RFP based on tonight's comments.
•Suggestion that people should email the City Council with concerns if they are worried about the concerns not getting into the public record.
MRA Role
•Sheri Furman clarified role of MRA – provide information and conversation, not advocacy (even though she herself as a Matadero neighbor has her own concerns).
•MRA will continue to work with the City.

Continued Communication

Send email to shahla.yazdy@cityofpaloalto.org.
Or to City Council, or to MRA (on website)


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Posted by Safety of Trail Users
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:48 am

1. Safety of Trail Users

a. Incredibly dangerous trail – especially for children

b. Crosses Many Streets with Dangerous Traffic

- Waverley, Cowper, Middlefield, Ross, Louis, Greer

- The trail will create numerous blind intersections (at least 6), where car drivers cannot see a bicyclist emerging abruptly onto the street, and vice versa. (Can't see past the barrier.)

- As noted by a resident who has served as a "Bicycle Safety Coordinator" for many years, a crosswalk creates a mere illusion of safety. It is even more dangerous to have a crosswalk, where children think they are safe (but aren't). It is safer for children to be aware that there is dangerous traffic and thus look for a gap in the traffic before crossing.

- At minimum, making these street crossings safer requires installing a new traffic signal (at Middlefield), new stop signs (at all other street crossings), and speed bumps on the neighborhood arteries of Waverley, Cowper, Ross, Louis, and Greer. Does the Midtown community support all of these changes and the extra congestion they will cause? Also, all of this will add to the total project cost. Does the city have money?

c. Middlefield Crossing – Especially Dangerous Traffic

- Trail will have to cross 4 lanes of fast, heavy traffic in a commercial district (Safeway, Winter Lodge, Samyama Yoga Studio, 7-11, Round Table Pizza, Starbucks, church, other restaurants and shops.) Cars entering and exiting a busy commercial district pose a substantial danger to bicyclists and pedestrians.

- A flashing beacon is not enough. A new traffic signal will be necessary. Does the city have money for the additional cost of a new traffic signal?

d. Unique Creek Hazards – Fall into Creek (Low Wall)

- Need to add protective railings (ugly eyesore). Will protective railings across the entire length of the trail restrict the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) maintenance team's access to the creek from the creek's banks?

- Teenagers and children will be tempted to climb onto the creek wall or railing (e.g., sit there). They could accidentally fall in. Residents have already observed some teenagers climbing on top of the creek wall. Opening up this trail will open up the floodgates.

- Trail users might even be accidentally thrown into the creek by the impact of a collision between two bicyclists or a bicyclist and a pedestrian (e.g., fly into the air).

- During the wintertime, when the creek swells and rushes with much more water, falling into the creek will be especially deadly (drownings).

- Is the city and SCVWD prepared to bear the additional liability of any deaths or injuries due to this? People will definitely sue the city and SCVWD if they get hurt because the city opened up the creek banks to public access.

e. Mixing Bicyclists and Pedestrians on the Same, Narrow Trail is Dangerous

- Usually, pedestrians walk on sidewalks and bicyclists ride in bike lanes. When you mix the two, there are no rules. In an accident, the bicyclist usually wins and the pedestrian usually gets hurt. The city is affirmatively creating the opportunity for bicyclist + pedestrian accidents.

- This is particularly important as the proposed trail runs along a narrow access road with walls/fences on both sides.


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Posted by Safety of Pedestrians on Sidewalks Perpendicular to the Trail
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:49 am

2. Safety of Pedestrians on Sidewalks Perpendicular to the Trail

- Bicycles will be directly crossing heavily walked sidewalks at Waverley, Cowper, Middlefield, Ross, Louis, and Greer.

- The trail will create numerous blind intersections (at least 6), where pedestrians on the sidewalk cannot see a bicyclist emerging abruptly onto the sidewalk, and vice versa. (Can't see past the barrier.)

- Bicycles will likely hit pedestrians (especially since pedestrians expect bicycles at street intersections, not in the middle of sidewalks).


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Posted by Crime – Safety of Residents
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:50 am

3. Crime – Safety of Residents

a. Easy Access for Criminals

- Thieves and burglars will have easy access to many residents' backyards.

- Burglars breaking in through backyards will not be visible from the street.

- If city builds a chain link fence, that will help burglars climb over residents' fences. (Chain link fence gives footholds and handholds – like giving them a ladder.)

- In past years, when creek access was easier (low gates), break-ins occurred from backyards at houses along the creek.

- Visual access into private yards will be possible through many residents' existing fences (gaps between fence planks).

- Burglars could "scope out" houses for opportunities to break-in.

- Will the city pay for more secure, higher fences for all creek residents?

b. Will the trail be safely secured at night?

- Jaime Rodriguez stated that the SCWD has demanded a curfew for the trail, with no lights at night. But how will the curfew be enforced?

- Will the city hire someone to close numerous access gates (at least 10) at night, on each of the multiple segments of the trail?

- Will the access gates be as high as the ones currently in place? Low gates that are easy to jump over will not be enough.

- What type of people might sneak into the trail at night? (Illegal activities like drug use?)

- Crime alley.

c. Difficulty of Policing

- How often will city police inspect the narrow corridor, especially at night? Does the city have money for such extra policing costs?


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Posted by Lack of a Value Proposition
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

Lack of a Value Proposition

a. Lack of demonstrated demand for this specific proposal

- In the abstract, everyone would like "more bike trails." But if you explained to people that this specific proposal is for a short path, next to a concrete creek, interrupted at every block by dangerous traffic crossings, with numerous blind intersections, far fewer people would want to use it.

- Community demand for this proposal has been limited to a few meetings held in 2012 discussing a variety of bike proposals. No documentation has been provided as to how representative attendance was (in fact, almost no attendees at the 4/16/13 Midtown Residents' Association meeting attended these 2012 meetings), how strong the community support was, or how many people were even in attendance. The Palo Alto Matadero Creek Trail was discussed in general terms without specifics. Accurately assessing demand requires disclosure of the specifics of the proposal. This project should only proceed with convincing and documented proof of its demand.

- Community demand must be assessed based on the specific proposal at hand, which currently begins at Bryant Street and ends at Greer Road, not for a longer trail that includes an underpass at Alma and an underpass at 101 to the Baylands.

- There are serious obstacles to the longer trail, such as the private home (over $2 million) blocking the trail at Waverley and the very high cost (many millions) of the Alma and 101 underpasses.

- Demand for this short trail should be assessed on its face and not in conjunction with the mere possibility of a more extensive trail which depends on the availability of uncertain funding. Otherwise, the project risks being a trail that is not useful by itself. No wise city built a train line to an empty lot in the hopes that an airport would be built to make the train line useful.

b. Midtown is already very bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly

- Bicyclists already use quiet side streets for biking, including daily commuting to work.

c. Already a bike/pedestrian 101 overpass at Oregon Expressway, very close nearby

- Why do we need multiple "bridges" to the Baylands, all within such a short distance?

d. Ugly trail with little aesthetic appeal (next to concrete creek walls, plus railings)

- Walking next to a concrete ditch is not a pleasant experience. This is not a scenic creek with natural ground banks. It is not a nature experience.

- People would rather stroll along Midtown's tree-lined sidewalks. Few people will use this concrete trail.

- This would be very different from the Stevens Creek Trail. The Matadero Creek maintenance road is narrow and runs directly next to a concrete barrier and private fences abutting backyards. The Steven's Creek Trail is located in a much wider space, and its paved path does not abut private backyards.


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Posted by Deep Flaws in Draft RFP for Feasibility Study
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:52 am

Deep Flaws in Draft RFP for Feasibility Study

a. No specific alternatives are offered. A fundamental principle in project design is to weigh the proposal against specific alternatives.

- Residents have suggested possible alternatives; please see "Alternatives" below.

b. No clear objectives are stated.

c. Misleading title

- The title "Matadero Creek Trail" is misleading and implies a scenic trail. A more accurate name is "Matadero Flood Control Trail."

d. Overly restrictive title and scope

- The title "Matadero Creek Trail" is overly narrow and prevents consideration of alternatives. Residents suggested "Midtown East-West Trail" and Jaime Rodriguez agreed (i.e., Jaime said, "Looks like we've found our new name.").

- Scope of RFP should be much broader.

e. No cost-benefit analysis is requested.

f. RPF should require estimation of ongoing maintenance costs (and confirm that the city has the budget for such costs).


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Posted by Lack of Due Process and No Community Notice
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2013 at 9:53 am

Lack of Due Process and No Community Notice

a. Many residents expressed outrage and shock at not being notified about this proposal by the city's transportation officials.

- The city is already far along in the process. It has already secured $1.5 million in funding specifically earmarked for this trail. The $1.5 million grant is "use it or lose it." The Feasibility Study appears to be about how to implement the trail, not whether to implement the trail.

- No evidence of direct community outreach to the Midtown neighborhoods or residents whom will be most directly impacted by the trail.

b. Why weren't residents living right next to the proposed creek trail notified via mail, postcard, flyers, or signs?

- A "Notice of Proposed Construction" is required whenever there is a proposal to construct or renovate a private home in the neighborhood. In this case, the proposal is to construct a public trail (in which citizens should have more say), but why did residents receive even less (no) notice?

c. Most residents only learned about the proposed trail (which will go right next to their backyards) through the grassroots efforts of private residents – not by the city's transportation officials.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2013 at 2:54 pm

If you have concerns about the proposed trail, please email ConcernedAboutTrail@gmail.com.


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Posted by Resident of Palo Alto Hills
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Mar 16, 2014 at 2:56 pm

To those of you that have concerns about theft, trash and noise...don't let the people that are not impacted by this make you sound like you are lunatics. 1 out of 3 homes along the busier trails in Los Altos Hills have been burglerized. Most of the burgleries occur during daylight hours. The houses are cased from the trail. The residents habits are studied from the trail. No, big TV's are not strapped to bikes and rode away on bike trails. The trails are unsupervised and unpatroled. Here's another example,check out the crime stats on unsupervised bike paths elsewhere. My neighbors 30+ year old son was riding on one of these so called wonderful trails in Mountainview after dark. He was hit over the head with a blunt object and left bloody and unconscious in a ditch for several hours until he came to. His nice new bike was stolen. I would NEVER send my child out on an unmonitored partially hidden trail nor would I ride on one myself.


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Posted by Resident of Los Altos Hills
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Mar 16, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Sorry - Meant to say Resident of Los Altos Hills. In addition, check out Berry Hill burglary on utube. This is one of many thefts, attempted thefts and vandelisms that have occurred. Most of the homes were adjacent to or close to trails.


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