Save Our Trails Rotating Header Image

Stevens Creek Trail in Sunnyvale

From the Sunnyvale Sun

Posted: 09/26/2009 01:16:29 AM PDT
Updated: 09/26/2009 01:16:30 AM PDT

For the first time in 15 years, local leaders are collecting community
feedback to decide whether Sunnyvale will be part of a regional plan to
build a pathway along Stevens Creek.

Sunnyvale lifted its “no trail” ban along the creek last April, opening
discussions on a possible pathway, and now the Stevens Creek Trail
Subcommittee is holding meetings to talk about trail policies.

Council members Melinda Hamilton, Chris Moylan and David Whittum, who serve
on the subcommittee, said their task is to decide whether to include a
Stevens Creek Trail policy in the city’s General Plan and what that policy
could look like.

The subcommittee is set to bring suggestions to the Sunnyvale City Council
in December.

A recent meeting on the topic hosted by the subcommittee brought out more
than 100 residents, with standing room only and a handful outside peeking
through windows. Some harbored hopes to stop a trail along the creek in
Sunnyvale, while others came to voice their support.

Jack Whitthaus, transportation and traffic manager for Sunnyvale, told the
community that its input and feedback would be collected as possible policy
options.

The goal is not to plan, or design a trail, but to create a range of policy
alternatives, he told the community.

“There is no funding to build a trail,” Witthaus said. “We are talking about
a General Plan policy.”

Among the options, the city could choose to reinstate the former policy,
support a connection in another city, support a trail in Sunnyvale without
affecting private property, support a trail in Sunnyvale with minimal
private property impacts or not support a trail at all. Another option is to
defer a policy until a future date when other cities are further along in
their planning, Witthaus said.

Marianne Cali, president of the Stevens Creek Neighborhood Association, told
the subcommittee that the neighborhood group supported a trail that would
not harm the natural creek habitat and would be accompanied by a 100-foot
riparian buffer from the creek bed.

The group would also support a policy that would protect the rights of
property owners and would not use eminent domain.

Some along the creek near Highway 85 and Fremont Avenue were opposed to a
creekside trail, for fear that it could mean losing their property to
eminent domain and bring an increase in burglaries and other unwanted
behavior in the neighborhood.

“Frankly, I’m not that concerned about the trail going behind my house,”
said Santa Clara County assessor Larry Stone, whose property sits on the
creek bed. His concern is the trailheads leading people into the
neighborhood.

“You just can’t put a trail down there. It is impossible,” said Norm Nelson,
who lives less than a block from the creek. Nelson walked the creek when he
moved in and said the area is too narrow for a trail.

A trail along surface city streets might also be considered, but the concept
is opposed by some avid cyclists stating the dangers of busy thoroughfares.

Glenn Ireland, a Sunnyvale resident since 1971, lives near a Mountain View
trailhead where he walks with his dog. “I would like to remind the city
council that they represent everyone, not just those who live along the
creek,” Ireland said.

He hopes the council will develop a policy to allow a trail through
Sunnyvale.

“I’m hopeful that citizens were reassured that nothing is carved in stone at
the moment,” Moylan said.

Moylan, who also represents Sunnyvale in trail discussions with surrounding
cities, hopes the next step in the process will be an agreement among
Mountain View, Cupertino, Los Altos and the Silicon Valley Water District to
apply jointly for a grant in March to fund a trail feasibility study.

The study could take a year and would find possible trail routes along with
pros and cons of each, Moylan said.

Mountain View is slated to complete the next portion of its trail in 2011.
The final section, from Dale Avenue and Heatherstone Way, over Highway 85
and to the Sunnyvale border at Mountain View High School, is currently
unfunded.

Cupertino also opened portions of a trail and Robert Kagiyama, principal
civil engineer for Mountain View, said Sunnyvale would just have to “connect
the dots.”

Residents can still weigh in on the subject, by contacting Jack Witthaus at
408.730.7415, or by mail at P.O. Box 3707, Sunnyvale, CA 94088-3707.

Leave a Reply