Portola Valley: Trailhead parking to shrink 20 percent


For hikers who use the Coal Mine Ridge or Windy Hill trails in Portola Valley and drive to the trailhead, the limited parking along upper Alpine Road near Willowbrook Drive is on track to become more limited.

A three-person Town Council on Wednesday, Jan. 13, decided unanimously to accept a plan for a new home whose driveway will truncate a town-owned strip of roadside parking along the frontage of a residential property at 4860 Alpine Road.

The 3-0 decision -- with council members Maryann Moise Derwin and Ann Wengert absent -- reduces the number of parking spaces to 16 from the current 20. The loss will strain a parking area that is often full and spilling over on to Willowbrook.

In granting an appeal to property owners Annette Achermann and Rick Friedman, the council overturned an October 2009 decision by Public Works Director Howard Young and is allowing the couple's driveway to bisect the parking area and use up four spaces rather than the two Mr. Young had in mind.

The couple objected to Mr. Young's plan to locate it at the eastern end of the lot. Such a driveway would be too steep and would have inadequate views of passing traffic, they said, adding that the town should have said something much earlier in the planning process.

"Having this thrust upon us in the 11th hour was a big shock," Ms. Achermann said. The couple has already spent $45,000 on permits and consultants for the current design, Mr. Friedman added.

The council had rejected an earlier plan on Dec. 9. The recent decision reflected a compromise crafted, in part, by council members John Richards and Ted Driscoll.

Anomaly occurred

The Architecture & Site Control Commission (ASCC) approved the couple's house design in May 2009. Mr. Young was on the distribution list for design review in March but did not comment, Planning Manager Leslie Lambert said in an interview.

In a Dec. 9 memo, Mr. Young said his comments were "inadvertently not submitted," allowing the application to proceed. "Public Works never intended the parking area to be adversely affected or diminished," he added.

"Staff acknowledges that it is unfortunate that this anomaly has occurred," he said, and added that the planning staff is reconsidering the review process.

Also on the distribution list in March was the Trails & Paths Committee, which had no comment, Ms. Lambert said.

The committee's comment now is unanimous opposition to the couple's plan, committee member Elizabeth Rubin told the council. "Our trail system is the underlying ethic for the culture of Portola Valley," she said.

Giving up four parking spaces, a 20 percent change, was a hard pill for Mayor Steve Toben. "It is painful for me to contemplate the loss of more parking," he said before calling for a vote. "This will not go down well with the trails community."

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Like this comment
Posted by Jane
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

Ride your bike to the trailhead and avoid the car parking problem.

Like this comment
Posted by brian
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jan 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

hike where you live

Like this comment
Posted by poor moi
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Hey Brian,

I live downtown and pay property taxes to MROSD who purchased and manages OUR preserves with OUR money, and prevented development apparently next to your home. Since I can't hike where I live I don't get to hike in your world plan? Meany.

Peace, love, and understanding (and hopefully sharing too)

Like this comment
Posted by Trail Runner
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jan 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Windy Hill and Coal Mine Ridge are regional resources for people all over the Peninsula to use and enjoy, not the private domain of the privileged few in PV. Cutting off parking is a transparent way to keep people from using the open space. Elizabeth Rubin is right, the trails are part of "the underlying ethic for the culture of Portola Valley."

Like this comment
Posted by JC
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm

The other point is that I would guess that that strip is going to be hogged by contractors servicing that development, thus reducing the parking further for months.

I take it by Brian's logic that he would also be happy to do all his shopping in Portola Valley and never to go to Menlo Park or Palo Alto? To have his kids and his neighbors' home-schooled rather than to send them to Menlo-Atherton High School (which serves at least part of PV)? Never to drive or park outside PV for a job, an errand, medical care, recreation or any other resource that the area (but perhaps not PV itself) offers?

Like this comment
Posted by Been There, Done That
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Congratulations. The Council got this one right... by accident. The Town can not deny ingress/egress access to one's property, and that's what this "make-shift parking area" does. And, if Mr. Howard Young followed his own public works rulings (dumping of street gravel illegally impedes growth of native plants), this whole "parking area" would need to be abandoned. Even the Windy Hill Preserve website map does not designate this pull-out as a parking area.
My advise is: those who wish to to hike the trails, park in the beautiful parking area on Portola Rd., but if they wish to experience the real "Windy Hill", should park themselves at a council meeting sometime.

Like this comment
Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 19, 2010 at 2:47 pm

David Boyce is a registered user.

In approving this driveway plan, the Portola Valley Town Council added a provision forbidding contractors from parking in this roadside parking area during the construction of the home at 4860 Alpine Road.

Like this comment
Posted by Proud PVer
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 21, 2010 at 12:53 am

I do what Jane and Mike say and bike to the trailhead or walk as I live very close by. And I am utterly appalled by their comments. If I wanted to live in a place where attitudes like theirs are acceptable I would have moved to Los Altos Hills.

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

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