Fact No. 1. The trail in question is not just a "bike/pedestrian trail/sidewalk" as described in the Almanac article. It is a designated trail in official county trail maps. It is designated the "C1 Connector Trail" in the Santa Clara County Trail Map and the "E12 Lower Alpine Trail" in the San Mateo County Trails Plan. This trail is the precise trail that was designated for rebuilding in Stanford's approved General Use Permit.
Fact No. 2. Stanford has offered over $10 million to San Mateo County to rebuild the Lower Alpine Trail. If San Mateo County does not accept the funds or requests an extension by Dec. 31, 2011, the $10 million will be given to Santa Clara County. The situation is simple and unambiguous. Our county Board of Supervisors can either approve revitalizing a Lower Alpine Trail that badly needs work, or it can reject the proposal. There are no provisions in the agreement for grants to fund other trails or projects within San Mateo County.
Fact No. 3. If Stanford's funds are sent to Santa Clara County after Jan. 31, 2011, San Mateo County staff members have said that taxpayers would have to pay for needed, costly trail and creek repairs.
Fact No. 4. Repairs will not require "the destruction of sensitive creek and riparian habitats. ..." It is indeed a fact that the creek bank will need repair, as it has already eroded into the trail near the Interstate 280 interchange. Without a remedy, the creek will carve its way all the way into Alpine Road. For the next 135 days we have a choice on how it will be repaired and who will foot the bill.
Fact No. 5. Continued scare-tactics warning about a "12-foot-wide super sidewalk" is yesterday's falsehood. No one — not Stanford, not the county, not the residents — is advocating any such thing. The town of Portola Valley accepted Stanford's funds and chose to construct a modest 8-foot path. San Mateo County has the same ability to choose for itself.
Fact No. 6. San Mateo County has decided to take another look at the Stanford offer. It will be holding a number of educational meetings over the coming months to educate the community regarding these facts and to encourage dialogue on the issues.
Now a mixture of facts and opinions. My family have been strong advocates for the environment for the 12 years we have lived in Ladera. We are a one-car family. We bike to work and school on this dangerous trail. We recently completed a green remodel of our home. And we regularly use hiking trails in the Bay Area.
We are in agreement with the Almanac article, that says, "San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have a shared interest in providing safe, cost-effective facilities for walkers, runners, cyclists, and equestrians." This will best be accomplished by first making Alpine Road and the Lower Alpine Road Trail, by far the most heavily trafficked areas in Portola Valley, as safe and as useable as possible, for as many residents as possible.
We must insure that the residents of Weekend Acres and Ladera are educated on the issues, and that they be positively served by the changes. Concerned citizens should use the remaining 135 days to learn the facts at upcoming informational meetings. It is financially irresponsible to turn away Stanford's funds that are already earmarked to rebuild this designated trail.
P.J. Utz lives in Ladera and is a Stanford professor.