A plan to add trails that would connect to the famed "Stanford Dish" hill is much improved since last spring, but there are still serious problems with roadside parking along Stanford Avenue, area residents told Stanford University officials Thursday night, Sept. 12.
Under the proposal, expanded bike/pedestrian paths would be built along Junipero Serra Boulevard, which borders the Dish hill, Stanford Avenue and El Camino Real.
But to build the Stanford Avenue segment of the trail, 33 of the existing 60 parking spaces along the road would be relocated about a half-mile south to Coyote Hill Road, which is southeast of Page Mill. Twenty-seven parking spaces would remain.
A number of residents at the Nixon Elementary School meeting commended Stanford and its planning consultants for making substantial improvements to an initial plan that had been outlined at a meeting last May and had elicited strong criticism.
"Everyone knows parking is a mess," resident Craig Mallery said, adding that removing only 33 spaces "in a situation already in crisis" won't be much help. Another speaker said splitting the parking may even make the situation worse, as people look unsuccessfully for a space before heading for Coyote Hill.
"I understand about people not wanting to walk to their walk," resident James Sweeney commented dryly on the irony. He received applause from the crowd of about 70 people when he suggested that parking be provided at a northerly gate to the Dish hill, near Gerona Road, to relieve pressure on the Stanford Avenue gate.
Some asked that parking be removed entirely from Stanford Avenue due to hazards caused by people making U-turns in their search for a parking space and sometimes coming to a full halt on Stanford Avenue while waiting for someone to pull out of a space.
Stanford's trails project stems from a requirement by Santa Clara County that the university provide a trails connection to the foothills from the flatlands. It was part of the county's approval of a General Use Permit in 2000 that allowed Stanford to add about 3 million square feet of academic and housing construction on its sprawling campus.
But the main southern trail winds along Page Mill Road and cuts over a horse pasture area west of Deer Creek Road and south of Page Mill not easily accessible to people coming from Palo Alto and Stanford.
A northern trail connection was shelved after the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors twice declined a major Stanford offer to pay for significant changes to Alpine Road to accommodate a paved trail along the road rather than across Stanford land.
The four-mile Dish has long been a popular some would say too popular trail for those seeking an open-space running and walking loop. In the late 1990s Stanford erected a chain-link fence around the hill region between Page Mill Road to the south and Alpine Road to the north and restricted access to daytime hours through guarded gates.
The university cited erosion concerns from use of unpaved trails and created the wide paved trail, used mostly by walkers and joggers but also by some bicyclists.
Stanford representative Larry Horton said at the end of Thursday's session that a transcript of the comments will be made, as has been done for the meeting last May and that Stanford will analyze every comment before submitting an application to Santa Clara County. The county will then hold public hearings.
He said people can make additional comments by sending emails to communityrelations@Stanford.edu.
After the meeting, Horton noted that the trails and parking issues have been actively discussed for 13 years, since the 2000 General Use Permit process and that it appears the process may be completed during 2014 -- coinciding with his retirement from Stanford.