Special MCC meeting on Fitzgerald Marine Reserve letter, Monday, August 16

Letter

Posted by
Fri, August 13, 2010


The need for a special meeting is to review, revise, and approve or deny a proposed draft Midcoast Community Council’s letter in response to the Negative Declaration public comment period which runs through 5:00 p.m. that same day.

The public is encouraged to attend the meeting to provide comments and input on the letter.

The meeting details are as follows:

Monday Aug 16, 2010 from 12 noon to 1pm
San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff’s North Coast Substation
Conference Room
500 California Ave
Moss Beach, CA 94038
650-573-2801 (Office)

The draft of that letter to be discussed is provided after the jump. Here’s the conclusion:

Although the proposed negative declaration has not found significant public support, the process itself has been illuminating and some excellent ideas were put forth in terms of compromise solutions involving alternative, permeable trail surfaces, different replacement footbridge configurations, and changes to the ramp down to the tidepools that likely could garner broad public support.

By including the public in the process, we believe that there is a win-win situation here that will allow a narrower trail with permeable surfacing and more narrow footbridge in line with the current configuration that would be welcomed by the majority of residents and still provide the much needed accessibility and usability improvements sought by the County and consistent with Fitzgerald Marine Reserve’s master plan.

For these reasons, we take our position against the current Negative Declaration for PLN 2010-00093 but look forward to being involved in helping to revise and build support for a revised set of plans for this area.

 

Mike Schaller
Project Planner
County of San Mateo
455 County Center, 2nd Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063  

Re:  Initial Study and Negative Declaration for PLN 2010-00093: Fitzgerald Marine Reserve/Preserve Beach Access Improvements at Nevada and North Lake Street and Improvements to the Dardenelle Trail/California Coastal Trail Between North Lake Street and Cypress Avenue

Dear Mr. Schaller:

As the elected representative advisers to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on behalf of the residents of the unincorporated Midcoast communities of Montara, Moss Beach, Miramar, El Granada, and Princeton-By-The Sea, Midcoast Community Council (MCC) respectfully submits this letter containing comments on the Negative Declaration for PLN 2010-00093 (Dardenelle Trail Improvements).

As an initial matter, we would like to commend the Department of Parks and Recreation for the newly opened staircase providing beach access at Cypress and Ocean Avenues.  We have received a number of positive comments from residents who have expressed appreciation for the greatly improved beach access that the new staircase provides and its aesthetic quality that complements the character of the area.

We would further like to express our appreciation to Dave Holland as well as our fellow MCC member, Len Erickson, who also serves on the Parks and Recreation advisory board, for doing an excellent job of responding to the need for public awareness around the planned improvements. In particular, we would like to note that Dave Holland’s outreach to the community via repeated visits and presentations to the MCC, as well as his responsiveness to our request for trail-markers, which were promptly installed to help facilitate public awareness of the proposed new trail configuration, were most welcome. By the same token, Len Erickson’s extremely well-attended recent guided trail walks and presentations, helped give the public a clear sense of what the negative declaration was proposing and were well attended by each of the Midcoast communities as well as visitors from San Francisco and the San Mateo Area. Finally, we would like to thank former MCC member and Area29 founder, Sabrina Brennan, for her diligent work of keeping the public informed of various potential impacts, both aesthetic and environmental, of the proposed trail expansion.  In particular, we note that her petition against the current negative declaration, which can be found on thepelicaneye.com, boasts more than 200 signatures in opposition to the negative declaration.

We are taking the time to point out how well run this process was in the hopes that the dialog that we have seen take place between the community and the various planners and stakeholders in the proposed project can serve as a model for community outreach for other County projects, including, for example, the Big Wave project which still lacks story poles and site visits despite having been proposed long before the Dardenelle Trail project.

The MCC is best equipped to gather and disseminate public response, where, as with the Dardenelle Trail project, we are included as a key part of the process towards building awareness and gathering public response on behalf of our constituent residents of the Midcoast. 


Substantive Comments:

As we are limiting are comments to the Negative Declaration in this letter, we will refrain at this time from proposing alternative configurations and solutions that will logically follow as a next step if the negative declaration is found to be in need of additional work/analysis.

Similarly, we will point out that our findings here, although complimentary to the positions taken by The Committee for Green Foothills, Area29, and other concerned parties that have taken positions against the plans set forth in the Negative Declaration, our position is not based on principally on the positions set forth in that correspondence, but are taken directly from public input gathered during public comment at MCC meetings, comments noted during both formal and informal trail walks, and comments submitted to us via email. As such, although we share many of the concerns around the potential run-off hazards associated with asphalt paving, and in particular, concerns around the San Vicente Creek’s proximity to the proposed asphalt paving relative to The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve’s top five position among the ten most contaminated beaches in the 2009 Beachwater Contamination Results list for San Mateo County, these were not the primary issues guiding our position against the plans set forth in the Negative Declaration.

Rather, what we heard by a clear and overwhelming majority of resident users, is that the expanded width of the trail and asphalt surfacing is out of character for an area that is considered a treasure to local residents. While these same residents empathize with the needs of mobility-impaired users to access what they refer to as a “magical,” “enchanted” and “intimate” area, they would like to see every effort made to reduce the scale and surfacing of the improvements to minimize impacts that cause the trail expansion set forth in the negative declaration to be “grossly out of scale” with the short run of the trail and its winding, meandering nature. In particular, residents expressed concern over the ferns that immediately abut the trail as well as the frog pond, on private property, adjacent to the trail, noting the importance that these two features provide to the charm of the current path.

Similarly, we note that while the trail markers were a big help in calibrating the public’s understanding of what the planned expansion of the trail might look like, the lack of similar markings and/or renderings for the San Vicente Creek footbridge portion, as well as the proposed work done to, and changes made in configuration of the path to the tidepools, were least clearly understood by most residents.

In particular, once the changes to the footbridge were explained, a clear majority of the trail walk participants were shocked by the proposed width of the new bridge, which several noted was “overkill” for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, as well as the new configuration of the bridge, which would now terminate into a blind corner rather than at a intersection with more visibility.

Likewise, while nearly all of those in attendance commented that the connector the tidepools “needs work” and is all but “impassable” in its current form, many questioned the need for 16+ feet of asphalt as way to remedy the shortcomings of the current configuration. Several members of the public noted that while the need for facilitating sea mammal rescue may require better access, as would the needs of group visits, and in particular, those with children, the types of vehicles and foot traffic that would need to use this ramp is such that, once again, 16+ feet of asphalt is overkill for the needs identified.

Conclusion:

Although the proposed negative declaration has not found significant public support, the process itself has been illuminating and some excellent ideas were put forth in terms of compromise solutions involving alternative, permeable trail surfaces, different replacement footbridge configurations, and changes to the ramp down to the tidepools that likely could garner broad public support.

By including the public in the process, we believe that there is a win-win situation here that will allow a narrower trail with permeable surfacing and more narrow footbridge in line with the current configuration that would be welcomed by the majority of residents and still provide the much needed accessibility and usability improvements sought by the County and consistent with Fitzgerald Marine Reserve’s master plan.

For these reasons, we take our position against the current Negative Declaration for PLN 2010-00093 but look forward to being involved in helping to revise and build support for a revised set of plans for this area.


See also my fellow MCC member, Bill Kehoe’s, comments here:

https://coastsider.com/index.php/site/news/save_the_fitzgerald_marine_reserve/100815/

—DavidV