County set to approve new trails around Stanford campus

Committee set to rule on plan to build new paths along Stanford Avenue, El Camino Real and Junipero Serra Boulevard

A proposal by Stanford University and the City of Palo Alto to install new recreational trails along the major thoroughfares near the university's campus and to shift the parking alignment near the Dish will be reviewed Thursday morning by Santa Clara County's Architecture and Site Approval Committee.

The proposal calls for a 3.4-mile trail network along the major streets surrounding Stanford, including new recreational trails for bikers, joggers and pedestrians along Junipero Serra Boulevard, Stanford Avenue and El Camino Real. The project is part of a broader package of improvements that Stanford and Palo Alto agreed to work on in 2012, when they submitted a joint application for county funds.

The application resulted in Palo Alto and Stanford getting about $4 million in funding for a new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101; $1.5 to enhance the Matadero Creek Trail and $4.5 million for construction of a slew of new trails (collectively known as a "perimeter trail") around the Stanford campus.

In some areas, the project includes placing new trails parallel to the street. In others, it would merely enhance existing trails. On the west side of Stanford Avenue, for example, a trail already stretches next to the road between El Camino Real and Raimundo Way. The new proposal would extend the Stanford Avenue trail from Raimundo Way to Junipero Serra Boulevard, creating a direct off-road connection between El Camino Real and the Dish.

A report from county staff notes that the new trail has been designed to be a "high-quality facility, detached from streets, providing separation from vehicular traffic for walkers, joggers and bicyclists."

The plan also calls for "supplemental features" such as on-street bike lanes (on Stanford Avenue), bike parking near the entrance to the Dish and improved landscaping. County planners are recommending that the committee approve the project.

Not everyone, however, is thrilled about the proposal. The most controversial aspect of the plan is a reduction of parking spaces on Stanford Avenue, which serves as the most prominent conduit for the thousands of hikers who regularly use the Stanford Dish.

The Stanford project would alter the existing parking alignment in which roughly 60 cars are parked parallel to the path to create 45 formal diagonal spots, requiring vehicles to back into the spaces. Stanford will also provide 33 parking spots in an area off Coyote Hill Road, a short stroll from the Dish. Coyote Hill would also see its number of lanes reduced from four to two.

In February, a large group of Dish users attended a Palo Alto City Council meeting in February to complain about Stanford's proposal to reduce parking on Stanford Avenue.

Marcia Kemp Sterling, chair of the citizens group Committee for Dish Access, argued in a letter to the county that the loss of parking spaces on Stanford Avenue would make it harder for walkers and runners to access the Dish.

"Though the Dish trails are on Stanford property and the university is not obligated to open its private land to public use, we believe Stanford is committed to the health and welfare of the community," Kemp wrote. "And, while we commend the efforts of Stanford and the City of Palo Alto to implement the vision of the Countywide Trails Master Plan, we feel that these particular multi-use trails are poorly conceived and will get far less use, and contribute less to the public good, than the currently available parking spaces."

Others argue that the trails plan is exactly what the area needs. Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders, a group that represents faculty and Stanford staff who live on the campus, unanimously voted to support the trails proposals, which they lauded as an important component in a broader trail system between the Baylands and the foothills.

James Sweeney, president of the group's board of directors, wrote in a letter to the county that the trail would be "used extensively by adults and children for walking, jogging and biking."

"The Palo Alto trail enhancements, the Stanford Perimeter Trail, and the bicycle bridge, combined with the Matadero Creek trail, would make great strides toward completing a well-planned, integrated set of recreational facilities that would allow walking, jogging, and bicycling connections from the Bay to the Arastradero Preserve," Sweeney wrote.

He also took issue with the argument from critics that the new parking plan would keep people away from the Dish. He noted eliminating 15 spots on Stanford and creating 33 on Coyote Hill Road, the plan creates 18 new spots. He also rejected Sterling's characterization of the Coyote Hill Road as one that does "not provide safe or convenient access to the Dish."

"There is nothing inconvenient about Coyote Hill Road parking," Sweeney wrote. "From Coyote Hill Road to the Dish gate would be a pleasant walk along a modern trail. The additional walking time from Coyote Hill Road to the Dish gate rather than from the parking Ms. Sterling requests on Raimundo Way is but a tiny fraction of the time to the Dish trail summit."

The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition also supports the perimeter-trails plan, including Stanford's proposed parking alignment.

Corinne Winter, the executive director of the nonprofit, wrote that the existing parallel-parking alignment is "in direct conflict with bicyclists riding on the road." The trail improvements, she wrote, will "ease access to the trail and other destinations on Junipero Serra Boulevard for people who currently bike and walk as well as those who would like to do so but currently feel unsafe."

"The creation of these new facilities will encourage more people to bike and walk to the Trail, easing congestion and the need for parking," Winter wrote. "In addition, both the bike lanes and the trail are valuable for different types of user groups. While experienced bicyclists are more comfortable riding in bike lanes on the street, less experienced bike riders and those with children feel safer on off-road trails. This plan accounts for both these users."

A commissioned analysis by the consulting firm Fehr & Peers also concluded that the reduction of Stanford Avenue parking spots would not significantly affect nearby streets. The report noted that while "there will be an initial period of adjustment due to the parking changes, the increase in available parking on Coyote Hill Road will offset the loss of parking on Stanford Avenue between Junipero Serra Boulevard and Raimundo Way and there will not be a long-term increase in spillover parking."

The consultant also determined that because of the enhanced pedestrian and bicycle amenities, "there should be an improvement in the safety conditions for all modes of travel in the section of Stanford Avenue between Junipero Serra Boulevard and Raimundo Way."

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


2 people like this
Posted by Stewart
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I don't understand why your news articles fail to include links to relevant documents and other information. This particular article includes neither links to documents nor names of documents. For anyone who may be interested in reading original sources, the latest planning documents may be found at the following URL: Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by responsible dog owner
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Will on-leash dogs be allowed on any of these trails? I'm really hoping this is the case?

1 person likes this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm

How far (in walking minutes) is the new parking lot from the Dish entrance? Will there be restrooms there or at the Dish entrance? It is really hard for kids and older people to make it all the way around the Dish trail right now without a bathroom stop. Extending the distance will make it even harder for families to visit.

1 person likes this
Posted by Map?
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2014 at 11:19 am

How about a map? Anyone have a link to a map of the proposed trails?

6 people like this
Posted by NotPublicLand
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Dec 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Dear Parent.
Having been one, I sincerely understand your concern. But let's be real. It is Standford's private property. They are (continuing to) opening it up to public access. Yet the community continues to ask for more. What about: "On hot days I might drink all my water before returning; can we get drinking fountains installed every 100 yards?"

1 person likes this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

The distance from the proposed parking area on Coyote Hill Rd to the Dish entrance is 0.8 miles.

4 people like this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Hikers scoffing at walking from the new parking to the Dish entrance, yet have no problem with the trek up to the Dish should really get a clue. Stanford is generous in opening this area to the public in the first place. As I recall, Stanford residents aren't even allowed to visit Foothills Park.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jim Sweeney
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm

The opponents of the Perimeter Trail have framed the issue as the loss of 15 parking spaces on Stanford Avenue. But the plan would create a better balance of parking spaces than currently exists. The plan would would leave 58 parking spaces on Stanford Avenue and create 33 parking spaces on Coyote Hill Road, for a total of 91 spaces, as compared to the current configuration of only 73 spaces, all on Stanford Avenue, none on Coyote Hill Road. Walkers would be able to park on either Stanford Avenue or Coyote Hill Road to access either the new Matadero Creek Trail or the Dish Trail. Under the proposed plan, people wishing to use the Matadero Creek Trail would finally have parking places adjacent to that trail.

3 people like this
Posted by Larry Horton
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

This who wish to see a 8 page brochure describing the entire Stanford Perimeter Trail, including the proposed new parking arrangements on Stanford Avenue and Coyote Hill Road can read the brochure at Web Link

You can also down load that brochure from that site.

For those who also wish to see the government documents,, there can be found through link provided above by Stewart of Mountain View.

1 person likes this
Posted by Just Do It
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I support the proposed improvements. The plans look great. The total number of parking spaces will be increased and bicycle pedestrian connections to the Dish gate will be improved. Love this. Just do it.

2 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm

0.8 mile with traffic lights is a 1 hour roundtrip for families with kids and/or older adults. We don't mind the extra distance if the new trail is away from noisy smelly car traffic, but restrooms really are needed for a walk this long.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

With the amount of time it takes to walk 0.8 miles on both ends of your walk, you could drive up to Foothill Park. Plenty of parking and restrooms.
Arastradero Park also has restrooms and is less distance, it is also open to non PA residents.

Why people constantly use the Dish when there are more natural type parks with natural type trails with restrooms just a little bit further is very strange to me.

2 people like this
Posted by Harold chung
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Having been to the Stanford dish many times, the number of illegal driving maneuvers that I have seen every day are incredible. Drivers resort to all kinds of risky if not crazy driving tactics to find a space. And they really don't care who they place at risk, even when pedestrians have baby strollers.

It's only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured by collision between someone looking for parking a dish walker looking for a space.

The new configuration will substantially minimize the risk of pedestrians walking to the entry. Safety ought to take precedence over the convenience of saving several minutes.

Like this comment
Posted by Brian Knutson
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 10, 2014 at 8:08 pm

There is an additional safety benefit to the protected trail and diagonal parking (rather than parallel parking) for kids on bikes who might want to either get to the Dish or to Nixon school just down the road. The current situation with parallel parking on both sides is unsafe for everyone -- motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike.

2 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Did any of the objectors ever have to figure out anything for themselves? Or is it just a matter of blind self-entitlement?""I want it because I want it because I want it/" Please try to grow up. Begin by reading the comments about this being private land, the availability of more parking friend alternatives (that their tax dollars support modestly), and the basic civics lesson on public negotiations and agreements. Our educational system, like ll systems, has its share of failures. These chronic whiners may be an example of that.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After experiencing harassment, owner of Zareen's restaurants speaks out about Islamophobia, racism
By Elena Kadvany | 28 comments | 5,326 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 1,975 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,765 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,297 views

The kindness of strangers
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 571 views


Register today!

‚ÄčOn Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More