16.5’ wide asphalt trail planned for the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve


Posted by on Wed, June 30, 2010

The existing Dardanelle Trail is part of its natural surroundings.
The County's recently-completed trail at Mirada Surf West, and its accompanying bridge, can accomodate RV's.

County Parks is planning to construct 10.5-foot wide asphalt trail, with 3-foot wide aggregate shoulders on either side at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. The plan includes a 60 ft long by 12 ft wide bridge across San Vicente Creek.

The public comment period for the Negative Declaration is July 1 to July 30. 

The plan includes:

  • Trail in the approximate location of an existing Dardenelle Trail on the east side of the FMR. The proposed trail will have a 10-foot wide asphalt surface with 2?foot wide aggregate shoulders on either side of the trail.
  • A 60-ft. long by 12-ft. wide prefabricated fiberglass clear span bridge approximately 30 feet upstream of the removed bridge.
  • Bridge abutments, which are 12 feet wide, spanning the width of the bridge. The abutments have wing walls, which extend approximately 10 feet. The wing walls on the north side of the bridge are at 45-degree angles from either side of the abutment base and the wing walls on the south side of the bridge are at 90-degree angles extending behind the bridge. The abutments are 9.5 feet in height and are mostly buried underground. A 3.5-inch diameter foundation pipe pile extends from the bottom of the abutments to a minimum of 37 feet in depth and will be embedded 10 feet into bedrock.
  • Fence with handrail along the asphalt trail
  • Retaining wall, 1-6 feet tall along the north side of the trail
  • Large overlook, 35 ft. long by 40 ft wide, with reinforced concrete grade beam surrounding it
  • Auxiliary overlook, 30-ft. by 20-ft and approximately half way down the trail, on the creek side

Send comments to Michael Schaller, County Planner:

Michael Schaller
Senior Planner
Planning and Building Department
County of San Mateo
P: 650/363-1849
F: 650/363-4849

The proposed "trail" would be wide enough to drive an RV on. Please send comments!

You can email your comment to Michael Schaller.

email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

ADA Trail Surfaces are Not Limited to Asphalt


Trail surfaces are required to be firm and stable. There are a spectrum of surfaces considered firm and stable and appropriate surfaces are not limited to surfacing materials such as asphalt and concrete. Many naturally occurring surfaces, such as crushed aggregate or soils containing some clay and a spectrum of sieve sizes, are considered firm and stable.

Other natural surfaces may also become firm and stable when combined with a stabilizing agent. Wood planks, stone, grass, and packed dirt may also be considered accessible. The degree of firmness and stability may vary depending on the intended use and the expected direction and length of travel.

- US Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.  Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design.

Link to Section A16.2.1: http://www.access-board.gov/outdoor/outdoor-rec-app.htm

Wrong size for the wrong project in the wrong place. Design and location of the thing indicate San Mateo County and its rubber-stamping local parks committee found something for out-of-work freeway bypass designers to do. If state and local governments are chronically short of money and unable to budget for what they want to do, shouldn’t they spend their meager funds on public needs rather than wrecking places the public uses (freely, one might add) for revitalization and enjoyment?

There is plenty of urban smear on the already sacrificed bayside for people who prefer that kind of environment.

Someone just made me aware of a (to be generous) specious article written by Castoria that appeared in the HMB Review on the subject of wheelchair access to the portion of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve where the county is trying to force a misplaced, oversized segment of the California Coastal Trail. So I spewed an oversized reply, as is my wont. Then I thought to myself, “Why burden only one person when I can irritate an entire blog’s readership”? So…

1. There is no official requirement that the entire California Coastal Trail should be accessible to wheelchairs. So the CCT aspect of it has nothing to do with paving for wheelchairs. What most long-time CCT proponents believe is that the trail should be accessible wherever possible.

2. A four-foot-wide trail with an appropriate surface works fine for wheelchairs in most places and provides closer contact with a place’s features than a wide swath of pavement. For a good wheelchair experience, there is no need for a paved road like the mistakes in HMB or on Mirada Surf West. The appropriate surface can easily be packed earth in many places.

3. There are wheelchairs and there are wheelchairs. Those that are set up for outside can do fine even on the current surfaces of most of the trails in Fitzgerald—or on the slightly overbuilt trails on the POST property of the Pillar Point Bluffs. Similarly, for some years, the paved-road advocates for the CCT have tried to use the handicapped as a tool to keep the CCT trail route off beaches in places where beaches provide the best lateral coastal access. But as we all know and as has been going on at SoCal beaches for many years, balloon-tire chairs can be used for whole access to beaches.

(Most bicycles can also use the current trail route flagged in Fitzgerald, and some have been doing this for years by carrying the bicycles across the creek at the north end of the route. Bicycles do not require impermeable pavement. Obviously bicycles should be forbidden on the blufftop CCT route, remembering that there is no requirement that the CCT include bicycles.)

4. Current wheelchair access to this part of Fitzgerald is in and out from two locations on the south end. With a very, very modest amount of work in the vicinity of the old house foundation, wheelchairs could have access to the blufftop cypress forest on the route of the current coastal trail.

5. Where access can be provided, wheelchair people have a right to no less of an experience than anyone else. There is no argument for putting a trail in the wrong place or for partially wrecking a place for the sake of wheelchairs. You don’t get access to something by wrecking the something you want to access, and you certainly don’t get access by not even going to the place you want to access. Without thinking, people like Castoria are paraphrasing an old Viet-Nam era impossibility, “We have to destroy it in order to access it.” ...

From the county viewpoint, the push for expanded, urbanized, artificial recreation facilities is part of the setup for its desired increased overdevelopment of the midcoast, as embodied in the county’s proposed LCP revision. The highway charettes, such as happened in El Granada and planned for Moss Beach/Montara, come off as part of the same deal.

Back to Castoria: he reads as if he hasn’t even been to the place he writes about and hasn’t read about what is proposed. He certainly doesn’t know the meaning of “natural,” as there is very little that is natural about the upland part of Fitzgerald we are talking about—the south end is full of exotic plantings from Doelger’s day, and the entire cypress forest is introduced. However, it does have a somewhat natural feel to it, and that is due to the vegetation and the natural trail surfaces. It is why so many of us local residents think of the place as a respite from the midcoast’s hardscaped urban areas. Some of the more “poetic” even refer to it as an “enchanted forest.”

Castoria also seems to know almost nothing about what is actually needed for wheelchair accessibility. There is a lot of background on this from whole access trail projects elsewhere. So Castoria comes off as ignorant and as supporting the spending of many times as much money as needed for increased wheelchair access to most of the trails in Fitzgerald.

Have you ever been to one of the annual state trails meetings? Every kind of recreationist group and lobby shows up, pushing for multi-use trails everywhere, to include not just bicycles and wheelchairs but also motorized transportation like motorcycles and ATVs. Their kinds of arguments are the sort of thing we are now seeing trotted out for Fitzgerald by those with an urban mindset. They become tools for the people who make money off big paving projects and who advocate urban development.

Every time developer types force paving a road and calling it part of the CCT, it fosters and supports the same bad behavior elsewhere. That is why principles are important in addition to our parochial concerns. One reason why this Fitzgerald stupidity is so difficult to fight now is because the county got away with it on Mirada Surf West.

Carl, thanks for pointing that out. Louie Castoria’s article can be found here:


From the article:

It’s thus a bit ironic that during that same week people on the Coastside were disagreeing about whether Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, one of the coast’s most beautiful and unspoiled areas, should be made accessible to people with mobility disabilities by resurfacing some of the existing dirt paths with asphalt, crushed concrete, or another surface that wheelchairs can roll on. Other parks and state reserves have wheelchair accessible paths — the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and Point Lobos come to mind — and don’t seem less “natural” for having firm, safe pathways.

Emphasis added.

To my knowledge, no one who opposes the county’s current plan for a wide paved trail at the Marine Preserve “disagrees about whether it should be made accessible”.

A “wide paved trail” of this design is not a trail. It is a road.

If you can drive a vehicle on it, it is not a trail. If it is built with heavy equipment, it is not a trail. If it wipes out what users want to get close to, it is not a trail.

Beyond the most important point, which is that this project is not even in the right location—which is where we already have an existing and long established California Coastal Trail on the blufftop—the “urban-think” design of the project concocted to spend as much money as possible needlessly should be an affont to anyone who cares about the character of our park, coastline, and community. Castoria’s ignorance simply provides yet another foil for pointing that out.