Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 13, 2011

Stanford trail set to open

Decade-old agreement with Santa Clara County comes to fruition after years of controversy

by Sue Dremann

A long-awaited trail that runs south of Page Mill Road and Foothill Expressway through the foothills could be open to the public as soon as next week, a Stanford University official said this week.

The trail is one of two the university is required to construct to satisfy its land-use agreement with Santa Clara County, approved in 2000.

The trails are intended to offset the impact of additional development by the university. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the trail plans 4 to 1 in December 2005.

The Matadero trail, also known as S-1, runs south along Page Mill Road and veers east at the intersection of Deer Creek Road. It continues southeast until it links up with a county trail that runs north at Arastradero Road and Interstate 280.

The upper part of the pathway consists of a paved, multipurpose bike and pedestrian trail; south of Deer Creek Road, the trail is unpaved and accessible to hikers only. In addition, a paved bike trail at Deer Creek Road is planned that will meet up with a southern trail to Arastradero and Purissima roads, university spokesman Larry Horton said. The Matadero trail affords sweeping views of the Bay Area that are similar to those seen from the Stanford Dish trail, he said.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss, who cast the lone vote against the trail package in 2005 because of the proposed northern trail route, walked the lower segment of the Matadero trail this past Monday.

"It looks great," she said.

The opening of the trail is pending a sign-off by the county Parks and Recreation Department of an easement modification, Horton said.

The Matadero and the northern trail, called C-1, along Alpine Road, were proposed in the 1995 Santa Clara Countywide Trails Master Plan.

The trails have been plagued by controversy for the last decade. Palo Alto-based nonprofit Committee for Green Foothills filed a lawsuit against the county and the university in 2006, claiming environmental review of the plans had been inadequate. But the California Supreme Court in February 2010 overturned an appeals court ruling in the case.

Stanford owns 8,180 acres of land; about half is in Santa Clara County and one third is in San Mateo County. Other jurisdictions include Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Woodside. Each city or county must approve any project that goes through its jurisdiction.

While the southern trail will open soon, the northern path is in limbo due to disagreements over the exact route. The northern trail would run from El Camino Real along Sand Hill Road, then follow the county line roughly along Alpine Road until it terminates at Arastradero Road. But Stanford has proposed a paved pedestrian/bike path along Alpine Road in San Mateo County, from Sand Hill to Piers Lane, instead of a trail along the nearby Los Trancos Creek in Santa Clara County.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted in MArch 2010 to reject Stanford's plan, and reaffirmed the decision in November.

Now the board has until Dec. 31, 2011, to decide if it will accept more than $8.4 million $10.2 million with interest from Stanford to build the Alpine Road segment, Horton said. The offer could extend until 2013. If the county decides not to accept Stanford's offer, the money would go back to Santa Clara County to spend on measures that would offset the negative impacts of Stanford's expansion, Horton said.

A more than $1 million overture Stanford made to the Town of Los Altos Hills to enhance a 1-mile trail connection has also stalled. That trail runs from Arastradero and Purissima roads west and south to Pearson Arastradero Preserve. But residents are concerned about parking, safety and the influx of additional hikers and bicyclists. The Los Altos Hills City Council voted to table a decision pending an environmental review and analysis and input from its open space and pathways committees.

If Los Altos Hills ultimately rejects the trail improvements, the money would return to Stanford, Horton said.

Portola Valley also plans to expand 1 mile of the northern path along Alpine between Arastradero and La Cuesta Drive. Stanford will provide up to $2.9 million for the project. Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks and could be completed in October or November, Horton said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Jimmae, a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2011 at 10:36 am

The upper part of the pathway consists of a paved, multipurpose bike and pedestrian trail; south of Deer Creek Road, the trail is unpaved and accessible to hikers only.

So, basically the stretch of trail that is most valuable to bicyclists(an alt. to Page Mill-280 interchange) is hiker only?
Anyone know the reasoning behind this please speak up.


Posted by Greg, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

Jimmae, I agree with you. This is a bike trail to nowhere. Improving the Page Mill/280 crossing for bikes would have made a much bigger impact. I suspect cyclists will stay on Old or New Page Mill and the trail will gather weeds...


Posted by trail to nowhere, a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

The whole point of this trail was to provide a family-friendly bike route from the Stanford campus and midtown Palo Alto to the Arastradero Preserve. If Stanford cannot deliver on that 10 year old promise, then this is a big scam.


Posted by janet, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm

The northern "trail" is a big scam. It would be in essence a side road to Alpine Rd - a major truck route with traffic so loud you can't hear yourself think. It would also have to cross numerous roads and driveways making it highly hazardous for everyone concerned. Plus, Stanford would be dumping its obligations to Santa Clara residents onto the county of San Mateo. Larry Horton said that it wouldn't be proposed if the local residents objected. They did, and he still pushed the project. Bravo for the San Mateo supervisors having the balls to say NO.


Posted by clare, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm

does anyone know if dogs are allowed on the trail ... either on-leash or off-leash?


Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I don't think that the point of this project was to provide a family-friendly bike path to Arastradero preserve. Nothing that I can recall in the original agreement mentioned bicycle access specifically, just public access.


Posted by Jimmae, a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2011 at 7:20 am

Nothing that I can recall in the original agreement mentioned bicycle access specifically, just public access.

Well, Stanford is consistently priding itself on servicing the needs of it's students as priority 1. Showcasing the campus as a bike riding- friendly swath, even to the point of discouraging auto ownership x parking - access restrictions unparalleled in any of it's surrounding communities.
So, my original point is, it seems that to make sense to continue that ethic on this pathway tentacling away from the core of campus.
Specifically when access for pedalers(many from campus) on this section of trail avoids the most dangerous interchange on Page Mill rd.




Posted by Dave, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

If road bikes are so concerned of this access, ride your bike on the new path to Deer Creek Rd, take Deer Creek Rd to Arastradero Rd and get on the path that parallels Arastradero Rd to Purissima Rd, and then ride Arastradero Rd to Page Mill Rd. It is not perfect, but it will get you to the same location.

Los Altos Hills did not want to accept the payment from Stanford to inprove the section from Arastradero Rd/Purissima Rd to Page Mill Rd. Complain to the Town of Los Altos Hills for this section.


Posted by families, a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Dave - the route you are describing includes significant hills and crossing Page Mill Expressway twice (including a left turn across several lanes with no protection from stop lights). Is that the best that Stanford can do to help families with children safely navigate this route?


Posted by Phil, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm

families, I think maybe you have not understood Dave's description of the bike portion. The trail is the same for both hikers and bicylists along the east side of Page Mill until Deer Creek. Both have to cross Coyote and then Deer Creek, but neither have to cross Page Mill at all, except possibly to get to the trailhead (will there be any parking by the trailhead at Foothill and PageMill?) Bicycles then follow a new bike "trail" (not built yet) along Deer Creek until they connect with the path along Arastradero (no left turns or cross traffic). Hikers go up and over the hill (much steeper) and meet the same path a bit south. I've heard the bike route referred as both bike lanes and a bike trail, and I hope it will be an offroad bike trail.

That said, I don't want to defend the trail alignment. I much preferred the alternate that Stanford proposed which would have gone along Old Page Mill and then across Caltrans and Stanford land directly to Arastradero preserve. But that alternative was strongly resisted by Los Altos Hills neighbors near the freeway, who did not want any path close to where they lived, and by trail advocates who favored a path that went deeper into Stanford land. This resulted in little likelihood of Caltrans approving any use of their land.

The current trail now ends at Arastradero road rather than Arastradero preserve and Los Altos Hills is resisting taking the money to complete the missing portion (along existing trail right of way). So the current trail does not help much with the long talked about Bay to Skyline trail, and might be considered a very nice trail to nowhere. Maybe when the next land use agreement comes up for negotiation, some fixes can be made. Another question: does the county have any authority to push towns to complete or at least allow the portions of the S1 trail that run through their jurisdiction?


Posted by families, a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm

The whole point of biking to Arastradero Preserve is that you don't have to drive your car. If the trail followed Old Page Mill Road and through the cow tunnel like everyone expected, then families biking from the Stanford area would never have to cross Page Mill Expressway. This route is also much shorter and much less hilly than Dave's proposal. Adults may be able to handle the hills you are talking about, but I doubt that many pre-teen children are up to it.


Posted by phil, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I see that "families" is comparing the route that we ended up with to other routes that were proposed but rejected (by Caltrans, Los Altos Hills residents and/or Stanford). Dave, on the other hand, was describing the bike route we ended up with and I was comparing it to the footpath we ended up. I think we agree that there were better possible routes (as I noted in my earlier post), although all would have involved hills (you can't get from the cow tunnel to Arastradero Preserve without going up and over a steep hill). A route pushed by the Stanford Trails website went through very steep terrain--so much so that they proposed a bridge over one of the deeper gullies. Stanford's alternative would have been better, but close to the freeway for a short segment (thus requiring Caltrans to agree to the use of their land). The county map for S1 shows a route that goes under the freeway at Page Mill and then through a residential area (Liddicoat Drive/Circle). The later would have been fought by Los Altos Hills residents. There was no perfect alternative, but the compromise that Stanford agreed to (between the freeway and Christophers Lane to the Service tunnel) would have been more functional (if less pastoral) than what we got.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Maybe PA should have offered entry to their PRIVATE Foothills Park to the Stanford community as a fair exchange for this trail.

So, do I read this correctly, now some PA residents want to either sue Los Altos or go above them to the County?

Geeeeeeez, the distorted sense of entitlement surpasses all reason.


Posted by a promise is a promise, a resident of Midtown
on May 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Stanford promised to open a trail to the Arastradero Preserve in exchange for city building permits. A promise is a promise. If anyone sues, sue Stanford to honor their promise. Stanford's attempt to blame other parties for their failure is a scam.


Posted by Jimmae, a resident of Midtown
on May 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Um, Dear Neighbor,
Stanford community+everyone currently does have access to Foothills Park on the Bay to Ridge trail that travels through Arastradero Preserve and subsequently through Foothills park all the way to Page Mill rd x Dirt Alpine rd.
Web Link

geeeez


Posted by Phil, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Promise is a promise,
Actually the promise was to build Stanford's portion of the county S1 trail in exchange for a Santa Clara County (not Palo Alto city) land use plan (not permits). The county accepted Stanford's S1 (aka Matadero Creek) trail route, so we are now stuck with it. Someone (Committee for Green Foothills?) did sue but lost (that is why the trail was delayed until now).
Neighbor:
No one Palo Alto is talking of suing Los Altos Hills (not Los Altos) over the missing section of the S1 trail.


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of University South
on May 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

Here's a meeting coming up about the Los Altos Hills portion.

TOWN OF LOS ALTOS HILLS

YOU ARE INVITED TO ATTEND A JOINT PATHWAYS COMMITTEE AND OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE MEETING ON THE ARASTRADERO TRAIL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

May 23, 2011, 7:00pm-8:30pm
In the Town Hall Council Chambers

Please join us to discuss the Arastradero Trail Improvement Project. The project includes improvements to the Town's pathway system to accommodate a walking path and bike lane improvements. The improvements begin at the intersection of Arastradero Road and Purissima Roads; continue along Arastradero Road under the I-280 freeway to Page Mill Road and along Page Mill Road near the intersection of Baleri Ranch Road/Arastradero Road. Bike lane
improvements continue along Arastradero Road to the Enid W. Pearson Arastradero Preserve (Palo Alto Open Space) property line. The project site encompasses approximately one lineal mile, incorporating existing trails and bike lanes where possible (see map below).
Input from the public is key to this process and we welcome your ideas. The Town of Los Altos Hills Pathways Committee and Open Space Committee will discuss the mitigation for potential issues resulting from the project. In addition, staff will provide an update on
newly installed improvements within the project area to reduce existing parking and traffic problems in the neighborhoods near Arastradero Preserve. If you have comments concerning this project, you are invited to submit a letter outlining your specific concerns to Debbie Pedro, Planning Director, Town of Los Altos Hills, 26379 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 or dpedro@losaltoshills.ca.gov.
Date: May 13, 2011
Project Area


Posted by Resident, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Does anyone know of a resident group instrumental in the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors' decision to reject the Stanford's plan? I'd greatly appreciate posting name and/or contact information. Currently we have similar issues in Los Altos Hills and the San Mateo experience may be greatly valuable to chart our future course.


Posted by trail to nowhere, a resident of Midtown
on May 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Los Altos Hills resident - please don't reject Stanford's project out of hand. Encourage them to build a better trail connection to the Arastradero Preserve. You have some leverage now and can help direct Stanford toward something better instead of nothing at all.


Posted by Joe McAuliffe, a resident of Barron Park
on May 24, 2011 at 11:10 pm

My goodness, reading the comments above it is no wonder that this trail took 10 years to build - and 6 months to open after it was built. Given the car dominated society we live in any new trail is a good one, build more. Getting people out into the open will enhance environmental awareness in general. BTW any and all parties involved in delaying this trail's opening should be forced to run it - twice, and on a hot day too.


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