Staff calls for extension of Stanford's $10 million offer to rebuild Alpine trail
One shoe has dropped. A staff report from the county manager's office, based on community feedback, recommends that San Mateo County supervisors ask Stanford University for a two-year extension on its controversial offer of $10 million to upgrade the rickety trail along Alpine Road through the unincorporated communities of Ladera and Stanford Weekend Acres.
The other shoe will likely fall Tuesday morning, Nov. 1, when the Board of Supervisors is expected to have a public hearing and vote on Stanford's offer. The board meets in the Hall of Justice and Records at 400 County Center (corner of Bradford Street and Hamilton Avenue) in Redwood City.
What could be controversial about a university, in hard times, offering neighbors $10 million to design and pay for an arguably safer trail in place of an old, unsafe and little used one?
The trail's right-of-way is:
• Wildly inconsistent in width and topography, which could affect heritage trees and what remains of Weekend Acres' secluded lifestyle.
• Located along a twisting, heavily traveled two-lane artery where speed-limit violations may get worse if the project straightens part of Alpine Road.
• Unsafe, according to Weekend Acres residents who describe the tedium of waiting to join traffic on Alpine Road and the danger of doing so because the traffic is moving fast and they have only seconds to join the flow. An improved trail for pedestrians, cyclists, kids and dogs could add to their headaches.
There are too many unknowns to be for or against the offer, Assistant County Manager David Holland told an Oct. 4 gathering of 80 to 100 people at the Ladera Swim & Tennis Club. What is needed is a trail design to study and talk about, he said.
"It might look a lot better than what we have in our heads right now," Mr. Holland said.
The audience peppered Mr. Holland with questions, among them whether $10 million is enough, who would pay if it isn't, can traffic be slowed, what will its volume be in 10 years, and what will be the effect of Ladera proponents outnumbering Weekend Acres opponents.
"I do believe that all of these issues can be addressed," Mr. Holland said. "Certainly, a couple of on-demand traffic lights can slow this traffic." As for the greater numerical support in Ladera, trail qualities such as safety will be the primary concerns, he said.
Safety figured prominently in feedback from both Ladera and Weekend Acres residents, Mr. Holland said.
Ladera resident Craig Hirst tried to ease the concerns of Weekend Acres residents, and got a round of applause. "There's a problem there and we've got to take care of that because our kids visit your kids," Mr. Hirst said. "We're one community. Don't make us two."
"Ladera is easy, Weekend Acres is very complicated," Mr. Holland told the Almanac in an interview