Supes up ante on Stanford's Alpine trail offer

On 4-1 vote, county supervisors ask Stanford to revise offer to examine three more alternatives

In the five-year poker game between Stanford University and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors over the fate of a decrepit and unsafe trail on the south side of Alpine Road between Portola Valley and Menlo Park, the supervisors saw Stanford's $10 million pile of chips this morning and, in effect, raised the bet.

In addition to paying to upgrade the trail, Stanford's current offer of $10.4 million would also fund the study of any of three trail redesign plans:

■ Move parts of Alpine Road to the north to make room for an adequate trail on the south side of the road.

■ Leave Alpine Road as it is and redo the trail without that extra space available.

■ Find that the trail cannot be made safe with the funds available.

That was not enough for the supervisors, who by a 4-1 majority on Tuesday, Nov. 1, gave Stanford until the board's Dec. 13 meeting to revise its offer to include funding for three more alternatives:

■ A trail that hugs the north side of Alpine Road after crossing at Piers Lane, where there is an informal entrance and parking lot to enter the undeveloped lands around Stanford's Dish radio telescope.

■ A trail that crosses Alpine Road and heads north on undeveloped land in the direction of Sand Hill Road.

■ Build the proposed trail between Ladera and Piers Lane, which would avoid the complexities of trying to improve the trail that passes through Stanford Weekend Acres.

Supervisor Dave Pine introduced the alternatives, adding that the trail cannot be left as it is. He instructed County Counsel John Beiers to work with Stanford to revise the agreement language that seems to preclude actions the board may want to take and that could "trip up" the county on deadlines.

Supervisor Adrienne Tissier recommended changes that would extend the county's window of time to complete the environmental studies beyond Stanford's deadline of December 2013.

The public spoke ardently for and against Stanford's offer, and Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, who represents much of Menlo Park, commented that the recent community outreach by the county managers office did not achieve its objective of consensus.

Supervisor Don Horsley, who represents parts of Menlo Park and Portola Valley, Woodside and Atherton, said he was "appalled" at the traffic conditions on Alpine Road on a visit there with project opponent Lennie Roberts, but that the county should accept money for an environmental study on a trail that is inarguably unsafe.

Board President Carole Groom voted against the idea of accepting Stanford's money at all, in part because it won't be enough to cover the costs. She noted the unanimous votes by the board in 2006 and 2010 against Stanford's offer. Opponents to Stanford's offer have lived with this controversy for five years and do not deserve another two years of it, she added. "I am simply not in favor of this," she said. When some in the audience applauded, she told them to stop.

In the end, Ms. Groom and supervisors Tissier and Jacobs Gibson made it fairly clear that they would oppose accepting Stanford's offer if Stanford does not agree to fund the study of Mr. Pine's three additional alternatives.

Asked for a reaction, Stanford spokesman Larry Horton, caught in mid-stride, smiled and said, "We'll see in December."

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Like this comment
Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Nov 1, 2011 at 9:11 pm

A master trail plan would be useful - regardless of county boundaries or who owns the land - even if there is only money for one trail at this time. There is nothing to stop fund-raising drives for more bike trails if that's going to help people of all ages get to schools, Stanford, work and the mall under their own steam.

What is needed is a list of potential trail routes that people need to or would like to travel on. Then see which are feasible. We need to think big.

One idea that came up at one of the Ladera trail meetings was to go behind the tree farm near Ladera and through the cattle arch under 280 then join the Dish trail then to Piers Lane then is there room to move the golf course a bit further over and fence off the golf course trail as part of the trail and take it alongside the golf course to the existing trail. This is all on Stanford's side and probably not the first trail that San Mateo County needs to build - but it could be a useful one for Stanford - especially for any Stanford community members wanting a family or group bike outing to the Alpine Inn.

This trail could link to one of David Pine's San Mateo County routes. Connecting Alpine to Sand Hill through SLAC and Portola Farms (but don't mix bikes and horses) might also be useful.

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Posted by Janet
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 2, 2011 at 6:56 am

The road problems are virtually all caused by Stanford: their trucks and their commuters. They had Alpine changed to a truck route. They barricaded off the campus so there are very few access points. The creek problems are also caused in good part by Stanford's stripping of riparian vegetation and road building immediately adjacent to the creek at the Tree Farm. There never was a "trail" along Stanford Weekend Acres, just a local pathway. Stanford only funded the PV trail and the MP part of the Alpine Road sidewalk to push their agenda. San Mateo's own bike manual (plus that of the State and Federal guidelines) mandate that any bidirectional multi use "trail" along a busy road be 12 feet wide with a 5 ft. shoulder from the road with a continuous barricade at least 42 inches high. San Mateo's own Bicycle Manual stating all this was published at the same time the county was holding its charade of public outreach meetings. The most vocal proponents of the trail are Stanford attorneys, members of their higher management, including a member of the Development Board.

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Posted by Menlo Parker
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Nov 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm

As usual, the "antis" pop out of the woodwork to change proposals at the last minute--usually just a tactic to stall any action. They win if the Stanford offer expires.

Why won't the supervisors grow a backbone and get started before another decade passes? They have had 10 years to propose an alternative trail configuration if they don't like the expensive one Stanford offered as an example (NOT as a take-it-or-leave it plan, as some of the antis have claimed). Instead they have waited until the deadline and then asked to move the deadline instead of themselves. For shame.

Just MOVE, supervisors. Don't delay any longer. Build a trail.

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Posted by real trail
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

If you're going to build a trail, built it right the first time. 12+ feet wide all the way from the Stanford Campus up to Portola Road. Anything less is just going to be another "trail to nowhere" like that unused orphan trail that Stanford built half way along Page Mill Road.

Like this comment
Posted by Please don't let them do this...
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Nov 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

There is a bigger picture here, a very, very big picture that started long ago when Stanford first began reneging on their promises. What many may not know about, is Stanford's plan to gradually turn SWA (Stanford Weekend Acres) into their own housing project, and they will do whatever they can to drive the homeowners out. As of now, we are figting to stop a developer in bed with Stanford from building TWO 10 bd 10 bth FRAT HOUSES at the end of our street with plans to build more as they push people out and buy more properties up, and they're all right on the edge of the San Francisquito Creek. Can you imagine? Our family community would turn into a raging college scene with the crime, pollution, and destruction of wildlife to go with it, not to mention MORE congestion! Stanford having their way with he Alpine Traill shouldn't even be considered period. The increased traffic, crime, and pollution we've already been handed by them is bad enough as it is, and anyone believing it's not getting worse by the day is either blind or in Stanford's pocket. There is nothing good that will come out of anything Stanford proposes. Google the past SWA and Stanford news, and you'll learn just how little Stanford cares about destroying our community and environment. Their track record of reneging on their promises and agreements is extensive. Please don't let them ruin where we live.

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Posted by disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Sorry San Mateo, you lose. Start making plans to fix your own road problems and creek issues. Plans would help, but they are going to cost you as soon as you think about creating them. Getting taxes to cover all the expenses might be harder. I'm sure you could take it out of the public school systems or something rather than asking for bonds or new taxes.

There will no renegotiating some other trail. The courts have agreed what trails needed to be completed.

There will still be a need to fix Alpine and the creek, but no money for plans or resources to fix what has to be done.

We will continue to have a trail that is unsafe, only now we have thousands of instances of people saying that it is unsafe.

We will still have an increased traffic problem, but no money for plans or money to make changes. The county doesn't even have the money to repaint the dangerous bike lane beneath 280.

Stanford residents can rejoice that this long protracted attempt to fulfill the desires for a trail have ended and that the money can be used to reduce the impact of all the open space they have lost on the inner campus.

Wow! I had no idea that all the crime in our area was those nasty college kids!!

Like this comment
Posted by Good Memory
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 2, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Stanford wants to dodge its executed agreement it made in 2000 to build a trail in Santa Clara County and mostly on its land. This is not a complicated issue. Stanford doesn't want to live up to its obligation and this is the 3rd time it has gone before the San Mateo County Supervisors waving money around. Twice, the answer was no.

The $10 million will not be nearly enough for the County to build this trail, what with the challenge of getting hikers and bicyclists safely over or under the 280 ramps. In addition, the trail will have to deal with 21 driveways and 5 intersection type road conflicts. Does this sound like a trail?

The 2000 agreement called for a trail on Stanford land that has none of these problems.

This is a pig in a poke! Stanford got its 5 million of sq feet development. Now its time to make good on the obligation.

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Posted by Ladera Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Nov 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm

It's hard to read all the misinformation and ridiculous statements opposing an opportunity for this community to get an upgraded trail for our families. Road problems all caused by Stanford and their trucks - seriously. Thousands of commuters cut through the area everyday, and Stanford gladly let's us - even when it clogs up their university roads. I've always thought that they should close their campus - but they are community oriented and continue to leave it open, provide road upgrades, and give us all access to a wonderful campus. Even a simple check on Google earth can see that the riparian corridor along San Francisquito creek is as extensive and dense as it was 50 years ago near the tree farm. But people just continue to make stuff up. The existing trail is a disgrace, completely unusable by our communities. Some people, and evidently the County, have no interest in improving the facilities, only in picking fights with Stanford.

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Posted by Disgusted LAH homeowners
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2011 at 12:58 am

We could understand all of this if THE RESIDENTS along the proposed trails reached out to their city counsels and county supervisors because they felt that we needed these upgrades. The vast majority of residents living along the proposed trail upgrades in LAH do not want them !!! The residents want their privacy and safety, and want to protect their homes and their property values. What gives our leaders and residents that do not live along the effected area the right to ruin our property values and rural environment? Those voted into office that do not respect and protect our properties should be voted out.

Local residents in LAH would like our officials to read the adopted LAH Master Plan. None of which aligns with Stanford's money. You folks in Menlo and Portola should see the hideous 10' by 450' concrete wall being pitched in LAH. The residents are furious. We always wanted our rural hillsides to look like a concrete freeway entrance. What an eyesore! Stanford, please leave us alone. Menlo Park, Portola and LAH residents along the proposed expansion UNITE !!!

Like this comment
Posted by Harry Turner
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Nov 3, 2011 at 9:27 am

The Supes are savvy. They discerned their negotiating advantage and they are using it. Will Stanford blink? Let's hope so!

Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Nov 3, 2011 at 9:28 am

Look at the facts: 1).The trail exists and is a vital passageway for children and adults to travel by foot and bike to Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Portola Valley 2).In its current state, it is an unsafe route because the trail is in disrepair, crosses intersections unsafely and traverse throught the SWA neighborhood in an unsafe fashion. 3). The trail and Alpine Road will see increased erosion and further disrepair needing to be fixed at some point. Why not take Stanford's money to do the job? Why not use Stanford's money to explore options to make the whole corridor safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, drivers? Why not use Stanford's money to make entering and leaving SWA safer for those residents and all community members? I do not get why SWA residents and Supervisors don't see this as an opportunity similar to that faced by homes on Sand Hill Road who now have a nmuch safer frontage and increased property vlaues as a result of the work to make their homes out of harm's way. Why can't we all work together to make this one stretch of trail that connects a beautifully re-done trail in PV and a the nicely done portion in Menlo Park? If not on Stanford's dime, it will fall to the taxpayers. SWA residents need to look beyond their own frontyard....And, how can Lennie Roberts say that his is a trail that nobody wants...I know plenty of people that do. I think she is arrogant to believe her view is that of everyone.

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