Highway 1 parallel trail funding uncertain


Posted by on Wed, March 5, 2014

The County recently applied to SMC Transportation Authority (TA) for funding for planning/permitting of the southern segment of the Midcoast Highway 1 Parallel Trail, from HMB city limit to the Coronado intersection in El Granada.

Competition is fierce for County Measure A sales tax funds for pedestrian and bicycle projects, which are generally considered every two years.  For the current cycle, the preliminary staff report [pdf] recommends only the top 10 of 23 projects for funding.  The Midcoast Hwy 1 Parallel Trail is ranked #11, only 0.6 points behind #10 in the scoring system.  No Coastside projects were recommended for approval—apparently there are no points added for geographic diversity. 

The TA Board of Directors will hear the initial staff presentation of proposed funding allocations at their meeting on Thursday, March 6, at 5PM, at 1250 San Carlos Ave, 2nd floor, San Carlos (Agenda Item #11a).  Final decision on funding allocation will be made at their April 3 meeting.

The Midcoast Community Council wrote in support of the grant application [pdf] last December.  Community members can email their support for this project to the TA Board members ([email protected]), or speak at the March 6 meeting.

I attended and spoke on behalf of MCC at the Transportation Authority (TA) meeting this evening. It was abundantly clear that Supervisor Horsley (and Aide Nicholas Calderón) have been lobbying hard for our trail and it was the main topic of discussion among the TA Board members on this informational item.

TA staff gave their report on their recommendations per the adopted point system. Some Board members spoke up advocating for some solution to fund the “Coastside trail”. Others wanted to be sure the top 10 projects stayed funded. The focus for a solution was on finding additional funding. It sounded promising to me. They will make their decision at their April 3 meeting.

(I made a mistake in the original post—our trail is only 0.1 point behind the last project chosen!)

I see this so frequently. The Cities that have elected officials lobbying for funds seem to carry more clout than our own Supervisor, who should be advocating on our behalf. For example, Cities like Redwood City, San Carlos and San Mateo always get the lion’s share of Parks funding while the unincorporated areas really don’t have any active public parks with ball fields, tennis courts, etc. We do have abundant National, State and Environmental Parks destinations, such as GGNRA (Rancho Coral de Tierra), Año Nuevo State Park, Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park, Butano State Park, Castle Rock State Park, Gray Whale Cove State Beach, Half Moon Bay State Beach, Montara State Beach, Pacifica State Beach, Pescadero State Beach, Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park, Point Montara Light Station, Pomponio State Beach, Portola Redwoods State Park, San Bruno Mountain State Park,San Gregorio State Beach, Thornton State Beach, and the James Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, the soon-to-open Devil’s Slide Coastal Trail Project, The Mirada Surf Bluff, Quarry Park, Pillar Point Bluff, and San Pedro Valley Park.

But name any Coastal “Active Park” for families and sports facilities. We get Zip, unless you want to count Moss Beach Park which was private citizen-funded for a long while.
Because our parks are visitor serving, we get the lion’s share of the weekend traffic, but local families have no “Active” parks in the Unincorporated Area.
It’s a shame we can’t get more funding over ere.

As much as I like projects for alternative ways of getting around, I’m glad this irresponsibly large request did not get funded. When San Mateo County takes over these trail projects, they spend as much on planning/design as they would need to build the entire thing. (CCT on Cowell Ranch, CCT on Mirada Surf West, CCT through Fitzgerald, Devil’s Slide CCT—all wastes of money by an order of magnitude over what would have been more appropriate projects.)

This is because they are totally immersed in a blindered, environmentally destructive, urban-development mindset for the midcoast, resulting in paved roads through open space rather than trails and bikepaths commensurate with our coastal setting and character. So immersed that they can’t even see the ugliness in what they are doing to the coastside. Even though the “parallel trail” is primarily for an alternative way to get from place to place on the midcoast for citizens of all ages, and not for sightseeing, it does not need to become part of the pro-overdevelopment, “pave-it-and-paint-it-green” absurdity that benefits only county employees, employees of the state and other granting agencies, and the contractors who bulldoze the trails into a hard-scaped reality.

At their April 3 meeting, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority approved the full $500,000 requested for planning/permitting the southern segment of the Midcoast Highway 1 Parallel Trail.

Can’t make the meeting tonight, but this write-up by the county is sick. It starts out with a self-promoting lie, stating that the parallel trail was conceived at the narrowly-constrained and semantically manipulated Highway 1 Safety and Mobility Study of a few years ago. Baloney. This alternative to cars has been knocked around for approximately 25 years. It doesn’t matter that the Rip van Winkles of County Parks just woke up to it.

Another lie is that the Safety and Mobility Study was community based. No way. It was set up from the start to push the county’s agenda for enlargement and urbanization of ways of getting around on the midcoast, and the expensive consultants hired to play the county’s tune were from out of the area.

The entire process proposed to plan this first 2/3 of a mile with virtually no major obstacles is to cost $500,000? Spending that amount to lay out a route any junior high-schooler could delineate by walking from one end to the other will force an enormously over-developed paved road as a result of the (unnecessary) consultant’s work in order to justify the planning expense. (Did no one learn from the paved mistake of the now CCT on Mirada Surf West?) So the characteristics of this proposed “MMT” project were determined with the application by the county for the sales tax funds, and all public input going forward during the entire sequence of development will have zero effect on any major aspect, as has been the case with every county “trail” (really road) project in recent years.

I hope the MCC will reject this charade (sister of charette) and let the county know we want projects appropriate to our area and not determined by over-paid cement-heads in Redwood City.