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Portola Valley council neutral on Alpine trail - first post

Original post made on Sep 30, 2011

A majority on the Portola Valley Town Council agreed on Sept. 28 to send a message of neutrality to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors as the board wrestles with whether to accept some $10 million from Stanford University to rebuild a roadside trail that runs through Ladera and Stanford Weekend Acres.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 30, 2011, 6:10 PM

Comments (11)

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Posted by PJ - A "New Laderan"
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:48 pm

I participated in the entire meeting in Portola Valley and stayed for the vote. To keep solely with facts, a meeting did occur at Hansen Hall, and both sides presented their opinions. This is true. The meeting was Wednesday night, this also is true. The Town of Portola Valley voted to remain neutral on the issue of taking Stanford’s money by a 3-1 vote. This is a fact. Probably not a single person in the room thought the trail was safe in its current condition, nor did anyone disagree that the residents of SWA have awful problems with traffic that will only get worse. These also are facts.

HOWEVER, at least at the meeting I attended Wednesday night, the Council voted 4-0 to send a revised letter to San Mateo County. Rather than argue about who said what to whom about what - the official letter was posted in the last day or so, as best I can tell, on the Town of Portola Valley website and can be found at:

Web Link

The text of the letter is below. Please draw your own conclusions based on the data.

PJ - A 'New' 12 Year+ Ladera Resident who would rather see Ladera and SWA work together (as opposed to digging in deeper)to fix the trail, road, speeds, off ramps and crosswalks while preserving SWA's privacy, frontage road and culture.


Ms. Carole Groom, President
Board of Supervisors
San Mateo County
1st Floor
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063

Subject: Acceptance of Funds for Construction of the C-1 Trail

Dear Supervisor Groom:

The Town Council of Portola Valley held a hearing on September 28, 2011, regarding the offer from Stanford University to San Mateo County of approximately ten million-dollars for completion of the C-1 trail in the unincorporated area of the county. The council heard arguments in favor of and in opposition to acceptance of the offer. At the conclusion of the hearing, the council voted to take a “neutral” position since the area affected is not within the Town limits and is a decision for San Mateo County to make. The Town Council did, however, want to provide the following comments to the San Mateo County Board for consideration in your deliberations on the C-1 trail issues:

1) Portola Valley’s General Plan and San Mateo County’s Bikeway Plan both include bike paths from Arastradero Road to Junipero Serra Boulevard. The portion of the C-1 Trail located from Arastradero Road to the town limits of Portola Valley is nearing completion and is already being used;

2) The design for the new C-1 Trail was prepared by the Town, independent of Stanford. The trail conforms to the values of the Town and was reviewed by Town committees and staff prior to its approval. Portola Valley’s experience in designing and completing the path has been very satisfying. Throughout the design, review, and construction phases, Stanford’s staff has been cooperative and responsive;

3) The present trail presents significant safety and environmental concerns. The existing trail is in poor repair and is threatened in locations of being undermined by creek bank erosion on Los Trancos Creek. Also, it was emphasized that residents of Stanford Weekend Acres currently have problems of safety when entering or leaving Alpine Road due to limited sight distance and speeds on this heavily used two-lane road. While taking a neutral position on the issue of whether San Mateo County should accept Stanford’s offer of approximately 10

Page 2
September 29, 2011 Page 2

million dollars, the Council recommends that in any event the existing trail be repaired and upgraded.

4) If the Board determines that a C-1 trail serving the lower Alpine area is desirable, we urge you to consider detailed trail designs and routings that remediate existing safety hazards to the greatest extent possible and proactively address environmental concerns.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide the position of the Town on this important project.

Yours truly,
Maryann Derwin, Vice Mayor
cc. David Holland, Assistant County Manager

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Posted by steve schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 3, 2011 at 9:39 am

Why does the Town of Portola Valley continue to promote misinformation about Stanford's
C-1 Trail proposal? Since 2000, the San Mateo County Comprehensive Bikeways Plan has shown bike lanes on Alpine Road between Junipero Serra Boulevard and the Portola Valley Town boundary. However, there is no bike path shown or indicated on Alpine Road, which is claimed in the Town's letter to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. The authors of the County's Bikeways Plan, which was revised and updated this year, recognize the dangers inherent in a two-way bike path next to a busy roadway that crosses 21 driveways, intersections and freeway off-ramps.

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Posted by realist
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

what was surprising to me at the meeting was how non-Portola Valley people were so easily able to hijack the meeting for their own agenda. The town council has every right and the responsibility to comment on planned/proposed actions that will affect the town. They were elected to serve the Town residents, not residents of un-incorporated San Mateo County. By accepting the agenda of fear ("OMG the new trail, although unplanned and un-reviewed, will be far worse than what exists now..) How about this? Accept the $10M, SMC develop and present a real plan and then let the community weigh in. Mr Silver's assertion that the county will do this anyway in a time of no $ and no current plans is politicking at best..

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Posted by janet
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm

PJ is a Stanford booster, newcomer (by his own admission) to Ladera and has no clue about the facts. Others such as Steve Schmidt have been biking this very route regularly since PJ was in diapers and, as ex mayor of MP who guided the Stanford negotiations for the Sand Hill expansion DOES know what he is talking about. The "trail" is right over the PGE 109 line which one of the problematic lines. Stanford has been negotiating with PG&E to excavate the part of the line adjacent to the campus area because of the safety threat. The same chief negotiator and Provost of SU's Environmental Health Dept. has been advocating for the "trail" which happens to run directly UNDER the area proposed for the "trail" One argument made was that the Alpine truck route would a good place for the La Entrada students to ride to school! It turns out there are just 6 kids from PV that do not take the bus to that school district out of a total of 1400 kids! For this SU wants to blast out a hillside and pave a wide bidirectional "road" in front of everyone's driveway and across the I-280 on ramp and several streets. All this is a potential precursor to Stanford trying to widen Alpine to an Expressway.

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Posted by another realist
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Oct 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

"Janet" - personal attacks aren't the point here. And neither are people who ride their bikes sometimes through PV. and neither are ex-town council members from towns worthy of any special treatment. and neither is your vitriol against stanford.. the alpine expressway? really?

San Mateo Cty has the opportunity to accept $10 million to improve a trail that badly needs it. They also have the opportunity to come up with a design that helps improve the lives of those impacted. how about letting San Mateo Cty do its job>

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm

There's nothing unseemly or vitriolic by saying someone is clueless, and there is something kind of creepy about wanting to section off critics from outside the area in question as if their opinions aren't relevant.

Also kind of creepy: letting government "do its job," as if the bureaucracy and its processes and sources of influence, especially this county's government, were all squeaky and clean.

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Posted by not a "newcomer"
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 3, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Exactly how long must one be a resident before one is NOT a newcomer? There are homes along the Lower Alpine Trail that are newer than the trail. How about we mention those as "newcomers" Living in a neighborhood for 12 years constitutes some pretty deep roots. He was JOKING about the newcomer title because someone here said that.

I would like the COUNTY to give us a timeline of when they can tell us the costs that will be charged to us to make all the repairs to this trail they claim as their responsibility. When will repairs on the trail and the path take place. Do they have any plans to ease the traffic. This is assuming they turn down the money for the final time.

No one is talking about an Alpine Road Expressway. I believe that would be a red herring in this whole discussion, as is the whole concept that the trail will magically go back to being planned across the Stanford Dish region.

Personally, I'm a bit worried about the Tiger Salamander Population that might be living along the creek that were not saved when mitigations were imposed for the salamanders venturing from the dish to Lake Log. If bikes and such are in danger on the path then I fear for our little slimey friends. There! You can smoke that Red Herring for a bit to see how it tastes. That was one of many many mitigations that were imposed on Stanford in the GUP, but none of the rest of us ever had to worry about Tiger Salamanders.

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Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm

1. The reason this concerns Portola Valley is that it is a Through Trail - for people passing through the neighborhood.
2. Steve - I've halved my car mileage by biking to places like Portola Valley Town Center, Stanford and Menlo Park - even as far as San Mateo for a County Sustainability Meeting - so it does save carbon emissions.
3. The trail that bypasses the Junipero Serra/Alpine traffic lights - while not perfect - saves on average 2 minutes for a biker continuing towards the shopping center along Sand Hill - so my husband and I (2 from Portola Valley at least) do use a Stanford financed trail.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I am not a newcomer and I don't live along the proposed trail route but I am smart enough to know that when someone offers you $10 million that you take it and run, walk or bike ride to your heart's content.

The alternative is to endlessly debate the issue and watch the money disappear.

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Posted by steve schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Angela, Good for you for you and your family riding your bikes.
Ten million dollars from Stanford may sound good to Peter Carpenter, Dave Holland and George Mader. Unfortunately, this Stanford offer comes with strings attached, and may force the County to build a dangerous mixed use trail adjacent to Alpine Road between Portola Valley and Menlo Park. Since Stanford refuses to honor its original GUP agreement for the C-1 trail with Santa Clara County, the next best thing would be for the County of San Mateo to repair its dilapidated sidewalk, using Stanford money if they can, and give the rest back to Santa Clara County. Building a trail that mixes bikes in a constricted space with pedestrians, multiple driveways and freeway off-ramps is a terrible idea. If built, even with free money, the trail will become an attractive nuisance for inexperienced cyclists and decrease safety for all of its users.

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Posted by Utz
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I will treat Ms Davis with more respect than I have been treated in this blog by her. That said, I found it so amusing that I really didn;t take it seriouslt. I clearly was joking about being a newcomer. I have spent 17 years of my life in the immediate area, and over 12 years in Ladera. I bike on this 'trail' 5 days a week, rain or shine and quite frankly know much more about the facts than Ms Davis. I've reviewed the primary documents myself and have contacted the supervisors directly and received responses about the (nonexistent) Regional Grants Program. Finally, I am not a "Stanford Booster" - not sure what this means anyway, but typically a booster provides money to programs like sprots programs, and I have not donated anything to Stanford other than my time. I do boost the community by founding and running the Stanford Institutes of Medical Research (SIMR) Summer Research Program for High School Students - which this year will host 75 local kids in labs, selected from over 1,200 applicants. The program is particularly targeted to students who are underrepresented in the sciences. If this means I am a Stanford Booster (of the sciences), then she is correct. I would strongly encourage Ms Davis to herself learn the facts. Sticks and stones...

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