San Mateo County Times/Kristen Marschall, 11/24/11. "A plan to expand and connect nearly a mile's worth of trail segments in four areas of the San Carlos hills is encountering some early resistance from hillside residents as well as logistical problems involving land ownership and a gate. Already, two of the four study areas in the San Carlos Hillside Trails Plan have been "red-lighted" due to the complications, a city official said Wednesday.
Noting that nothing has been done to hillside trails for seven years, Parks and Recreation Director Doug Long said the plan proposes to add trails to Big Canyon and Eaton parks "to make it a little more interesting for the people who hike in there." The new trails would be loops with foot bridges and stairs, providing different vantage points for hikers. Because both trail sites are city-owned property and have cleared early environmental studies, no issues are anticipated, Long said.
But farther north, a proposal to connect Devonshire Canyon with Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve through Vista Park could be blocked by a gate. Hikers would cross Crestview Drive and venture up Los Vientos Way, where "there is literally a gate there with a lock on it," Long said. The gate belongs to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, which would make the call on whether to open it, he said.
Nearby neighbors who don't want foot traffic likely would weigh in. "Los Vientos was going to be a hot-button item," Long said. "They've been very vitriolic about the whole thing. It will influence (the district's) decision whether they consider it or not."
The reception isn't any warmer for another trail proposed to connect the Devonshire trail system to Crestview Drive. Because the trail site is privately owned, Long said the Crestview Park Homeowners Association can dictate its fate. "The people who own the land don't want a trail," he said. "People are leery about trails. The biggest concerns are fire hazards and nefarious activity." An easement is available on the corner of the parcel farthest from residents and that's all the city needs to make the trail work, Long said. The city is awaiting a vote from the homeowner's association on whether the land could be purchased, but Long said he is not optimistic. If the association rejects the proposal, imminent domain is an option, "but that's never a popular thing," he added.
Since Long came to San Carlos three years ago, he said he has received few calls demanding more trails. "Even though our trail system is only nine miles, we do have access to many more miles just beyond San Carlos," he said. About $3,000 has been budgeted for the Big Canyon and Eaton trails. Long said that's a "relatively low budget" made possible by a volunteer trail builder. After the plan is reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Commission, it likely will go to the city council in March. If approved then, the trails could be ready by summer, Long said. The draft versions of the plan will be discussed at a 7 p.m. Parks and Recreation Commission meeting at City Hall on Dec. 7."
Posted by Kathy Meeh