There is wide support for rebuilding the trail
(This letter was addressed to the Board of Supervisors and submitted on Nov. 2)
By P.J. Utz
The headline 'Alpine Trail is the trail nobody wants' on a guest opinion by Lennie Roberts in the Nov. 2 Almanac is an insult to all of us who have argued about this issue on both sides over the past few months.
I would say unequivocally that some people oppose the trail. It is also fair to state that many people support fixing the trail. The Ladera Community Association sent an email to residents Sept. 28 describing their poll of the neighborhood: "While the community perspective was not unanimous, it was overwhelming in support of improving the trail."
I fully acknowledge the problems that the residents of Stanford Weekend Acres face every day — traffic noise, congestion, pollution, difficulty with entering and leaving their community, and their plummeting property values. I see it twice every single day as I bike to work on the existing trail, on their frontage roads.
If they think that their plight will magically disappear if a "no" vote occurs on Dec. 13, then they have been mesmerized by Ms. Roberts and the Committee for Green Foothills. When Stanford completes its hospital expansion, things will only get worse. Not linearly but logarithmically.
Weekend Acres will exist as its own little, isolated atoll, with a dead-end trail on both sides, and with indifferent nearby communities in Ladera and Portola Valley that will have moved on to issues of greater importance. I would not relish Weekend Acres having to fight those who wish to maintain a scenic corridor where traffic lights and lower speed limits ruin the ambiance. I will wave as I bike past the traffic on their frontage road, which doubles as a community-owned, multiuse path.
Having just acknowledged that there are opponents of the trail, I must say that there are many citizens who strongly favor a trail. I don't mean favor a new trail. I mean favor fixing the existing trail that right now runs right through the paved frontage roads in Weekend Acres. I mean fixing not just the trail but the entire corridor. We must not let the supervisors cede this existing trail so that Weekend Acres has a place to park their cars on the community's existing C1 trail. This latter battle will wage long after the Dec. 13 vote.
Sadly, if the trail is not improved, almost everyone will lose, particularly Weekend Acres residents who would have to go it alone to salvage "their way of life." Supervisor Pine stated at the Nov. 1 hearing that a regional grants program does not exist, so Ms. Roberts and the Committee for Green Foothills may have lost their chance to divert these funds to fix the Upper Alpine Trail. Are there winners? You bet. Stanford residents who will get $10 million-plus in new recreational facilities, as dictated by the university's General Use Permit, signed 12 years ago.
P.J. Utz is a Ladera resident and Stanford professor
Call for trail ignores issue of Stanford Weekend Acres
By Gunter Steffen
I would like to take issue with Christine Martens' comments in last week's Almanac, regarding what people in another community (not hers) do or do not want fronting that entire community. She alleges that Lennie Roberts, in an earlier article, asserts falsehoods, was wrongheaded and used "utterly discredited" ideas and that "some" people have even come to believe them. What facts does she advance to buttress those claims?
Did she follow the voluminous string of emails written by Stanford Weekend Acres residents protesting what Stanford is trying to force down their collective throats? Did she read the extensive studies that have been conducted in cities across the country that have all pointed out the dangers and pitfalls of such trails in areas similar to those in Stanford Weekend Acres? Did she examine the accident and fatality statistics associated with such trails? Closer to home, did she read the study, conducted by Alan Wachtel and Diana Lewiston for the city of Palo Alto, regarding Class 1 and bicycle trail designs or the recommendations in the California Highway Design Manual?
Has she read the comments submitted by Steve Schmidt, former mayor of Menlo Park, or Jon Silver, former Portola Valley councilman, who all argued passionately against this proposal? This information is all readily available to her. Does she even know what's at stake in Stanford Weekend Acres and why people living here are up in arms over this issue? Does she even care?
Based on her assertions I can only conclude that the answer to all of the above is a resounding no. I would strongly suggest that Ms. Martens do her homework rather than parroting Stanford's tiresome rhetoric and slandering the likes of Lennie Roberts, legislative advocate for Committee for Green Foothills and one of the Bay Area's most respected environmental leaders.
In addition, her call for all San Mateo County residents to pressure their supervisors is ludicrous since the money does not benefit those residents one iota but forces an unwanted and highly undesirable solution to one of Stanford's problems only onto Weekend Acres residents. In this instance, the only beneficiary of the acceptance of funds from Stanford is ... Stanford.
Ms. Martens is entitled to her opinions, however uninformed they may be, but she should not try to foist them onto other people without demonstrably factual underpinnings of any kind.
Gunter Steffen lives in Stanford Weekend Acres.