Guest Opinion: Help Palo Alto Win 8.5 Miles of Trails for the Community | November 2, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - November 2, 2012

Guest Opinion: Help Palo Alto Win 8.5 Miles of Trails for the Community

by Greg Scharff, John Etchemendy, Camille Townsend and James Sweeney

On behalf of the Palo Alto City Council, the Palo Alto Unified School District, Stanford University, and Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders, we are working hard to win a $10.4 million grant to benefit the Palo Alto and Stanford communities. We are writing to encourage community members to help us in this effort.

We want to take advantage of an unusual one-time funding opportunity. As part of an agreement between Stanford and Santa Clara County related to the 2000 General Use Permit, Stanford offered $10.4 million to San Mateo County to reconstruct and improve 2.1 miles of the Lower Alpine Trail in unincorporated San Mateo County. That offer, which was made in early 2006, expired on December 31, 2011. This cleared the way for Stanford to give the $10.4 million to Santa Clara County to provide recreational opportunities for Stanford campus residents and facility users. (A facility user is a person who uses Stanford's recreational facilities that are open to the public.)

Santa Clara County then established a program to award grant funding to government agencies or non-profit entities to provide recreational opportunities for campus residents and facility users.

Working collaboratively to meet the needs of the greater local community, the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University submitted a joint application for a new comprehensive trail network. It would consist of new trails, a new bike and pedestrian bridge over Highway 101, a new bike boulevard, and widened, improved and linked portions of substandard routes. The result would be an unbroken recreational trail route from the Baylands east of Highway 101 down through Palo Alto and linking up to a new Stanford perimeter trail. The perimeter trail would connect to the existing S1 trail and then to a C2 trail to be constructed next spring that would connect to the Arastradero Preserve. The El Camino Real section of the perimeter trail connects to Palo Alto High School, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and the Stanford Shopping Center.

Not only would this interconnected trail network provide an excellent and long-desired Bay to the ridge recreational route, it would also allow residents and visitors to travel to parks and other recreational facilities along the way. For some, these routes will allow safe bicycling to and from work or to and from school.

The Palo Alto and Stanford proposal — alone of all the proposals submitted — would provide immediate recreational opportunities to precisely the population for whom these funds were intended to serve. Campus and other local residents who use Stanford's recreational facilities will be enthusiastic and frequent users of these trails.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will meet on Nov. 20 to consider applications for these funds. The Palo Alto/Stanford application requests $4.5 million for the three sections of the Stanford Perimeter Trail and $5.9 million for the four Palo Alto portions of the network, including an important new bike and pedestrian bridge over Highway 101. Should the cost of the Stanford Perimeter Trail exceed the budgeted amount, Stanford will pay the overruns to ensure that the project is completed. If the Stanford Perimeter Trail comes in under budget, Stanford would like the unexpended funds to be given to Palo Alto to support its portions. Palo Alto has already allocated over $1 million of its funds to support its program and is prepared to raise the needed funds to complete the project.

The outpouring of support for the Palo Alto and Stanford Trails Program has been extraordinary. The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce is in full support. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group supports the county's full funding of the Palo Alto/Stanford application. Palo Alto's Council of PTAs is in full support and notes that portions of the Palo Alto/Stanford program have the happy side benefit of directly supporting the "Safe Routes to School Program." The Palo Alto Unified School District Board voted unanimously on a resolution of strong support for the Palo Alto/Stanford program and sent that resolution to the county. The chief law-enforcement officers for roads covered by the Palo Alto/Stanford program — the local Highway Patrol commander, the Palo Alto Chief of Police, and the Stanford Chief of Police — have all written letters supporting the Palo Alto/Stanford proposal, especially noting its improvements in safety. The Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders, representing more than 850 faculty and staff homes on the campus, and the Stanford student body co-presidents are in strong support. A number of Palo Alto and Stanford bicycle organizations and bicycle shops have written in support. And, we must acknowledge with gratitude that the Palo Alto Weekly strongly supported the Palo Alto/Stanford program in an editorial in September.

The decision to fund the Palo Alto and Stanford Program rests with the five members of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. We urge members of the Palo Alto and Stanford communities as well as other neighbors who will also benefit from the new Palo Alto and Stanford trail network, to write, call or email members of the Board of Supervisors in support of this marvelous, one-time only opportunity to improve our community.

Greg Scharff, vice mayor of Palo Alto; John Etchemendy, provost of Stanford University; Camille Townsend, president of the Palo Alto school board; and James Sweeney, president of the Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders.


Like this comment
Posted by john felstiner
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 2, 2012 at 10:39 am

I am for giving the $10.4 million trail funds to Stanford & Palo Alto/Santa Clara County.

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Posted by resident
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 2, 2012 at 11:06 am

The most important pedestrian/bicycle project in Palo Alto right now is undoubtedly the bridge over Hwy 101 at Adobe Creek. This is a vital route for both families walking out to the Baylands and commuters heading to their in the north Shoreline area.

The old path under the highway is inadequate because it was closed so often, including all of this year.

I noticed that the city has installed bike route markings along San Antonio Road as an alternative, but come on, how many parents will let their kids bike on San Antonio Road?

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2012 at 11:32 am

Very worried about the idea of bike trails for mountain bikes. These are typically very dangerous routes for serious mountain bikers and are not good for inexperienced bikers, children or hiking. They are also a draw for serious mountain bikers from across the region.

Please clarify the difference between bike paths and mtb trails. They are very different.

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Posted by Betsy
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2012 at 10:07 am

As one of thousands who regularly walk the Dish, these proposed trail improvements are welcome additions, to be sure.

I will write members of the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, particularly Liz Kniss, to register my support.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Robinson
a resident of University South
on Nov 4, 2012 at 10:57 am

I am an avid biker and also enjoy walking in the Palo Alto parks regularly. I will write in to register my support.

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Posted by Billy
a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

This is a great plan to create a unified bike path around PA.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Stanford University / City of Palo Alto Joint Grant Application, September 6, 2012

Web Link

County of Santa Clara, Proposed Alternative Mitigation Projects to Address Loss of Recreational Opportunities on the Stanford Campus

Stanford University/City of Palo Alto

-- Table of Contents and Introduction (pages 1-10, 7.4MB)

-- Executive Summary (pages 12-20, 3.1MB)

-- Stanford Perimeter Trail (pages 21-34, 3.5MB)

-- Park Blvd Bicycle Boulevard (pages 35-40, 2.1MB)

-- Matadero Creek Trail (pages 41-48, 0.9MB)

-- Adobe Creek Overcrossing of Highway 101 (pages 49-54, 0.6MB)

-- Arastradero Road C-2 Trail Upgrades (pages 55-60, 0.4MB)

-- Appendices (pages 61-73, 1.9MB)

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Posted by Go Trails
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2012 at 7:15 am

Where is Liz Kniss on this. Shouldn't our supervisor be supporting Palo Altos interest in this?

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Posted by resident
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 6, 2012 at 8:35 am

I believe that Liz Kniss has earlier come out in favor of using this money for the pedestrian bridge over Hwy 101 in southern Palo Alto and to fix the gap in the San Francisco Bay Trail between East Palo Alto and Menlo Park (near the Dumbarton Bridge). The bridge is in the new proposal, but the Bay Trail is not.

Personally, I like Kniss's proposal which focuses on big important projects that would be difficult to fund otherwise. A lot of the stuff in the new proposal is small and less important projects that could easily be funded on a piece-by-piece basis from the general fund.