Sunnyvale: NIMBYs threaten Stevens Creek Trail extension

The cities of Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Altos and Cupertino in California plan to extend the Stevens Creek Trail, connecting Mountain View’s popular five mile long trail with the one mile Stevens Creek Trail south of Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino.

Stevens Creek Trail w/ cyclists and walkers

An obstructionist group euphemistically calling themselves “Citizens for Responsible Trails” have packed the first two of three public input meetings to register their strong opposition to this trail. Friends of Stevens Creek Trail have sent an appeal asking those who support the trail to give their input to the cities and attend these meetings if possible.

What is the Stevens Creek Trail?

The Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View, CA is an important and popular north-south shared use path connecting residential neighborhoods, business districts, busy transit corridors, and jobs running from near El Camino Real north to San Francisco Bay. The Stevens Creek Trail Four Cities Joint Feasibility Study proposes extending this trail south to Stevens Creek Boulevard to connect to the trail of the same name in Cupertino.

While this trail is a heavily used recreational path, it’s also an important transportation link for those desiring a grade separated path. This trail and the connecting Bay Trail connect Caltrain, VTA light rail and the residential areas of Mountain View with some of Silicon Valley’s largest employers, including Google, NASA Ames, Lockheed Martin, Symantec, LinkedIn, Synopsis, Intuit, Yahoo and more.

The feasibility study determined public land can be used to extend the trail south to Fremont Avenue. Because right-of-way is not available along the creek itself between Fremont Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard, the study proposes various alignments to create something like bicycle boulevards on quiet residential streets. Some proposed alignments may require removing a traffic lane or street parking in residential neighborhoods.

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

Citizens for Responsible Trails claims these core values: 1) Fiscal Responsibility; 2) Utilize Existing Infrastructure; and 3) Minimize New Impact. Public comments at the planning meetings, however, reveal that they fear change. Change the size of the “like” button on Facebook and these people organize a protest at 1 Hacker Way. Several believe the designation of their street as a bikeway will result in recreational cyclists parking on “their” streets. Other expressed fear of these bikeways attracting strangers, thieves, pedophiles, lycra louts, MAMILs, underemployed hippies and other assorted bike-riding criminal undesirables to their homes. All of their comments reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of how the trail is currently used and the anticipated usage when the connector is completed.

Talking Points

Proponents of the extension point out that bikeways in this area will likely increase property values, improve traffic safety, and reduce vehicular cut-through traffic. Replacing cut-through traffic with people on foot and on bike reduce crime.

The next and final meeting takes place Monday June 8, 6:30-9:30pm at Senior Center, 266 Escuela Avenue, Mountain View, and your voice needs to be heard. For speaking points, please visit this page. You are also invited to email your comments regarding this trail to the city of Sunnyvale, which is the lead agency for this feasibility study. The deadline for public comment is June 10, so act quickly.

I have pasted the appeal from Friends of Stevens Creek Trail below for further background.

Dear Stevens Creek Trail supporters,

We urgently need your help right now!

A major campaign has been launched against extending the trail through Sunnyvale, Los Altos, and Cupertino by Citizens for Responsible Trails. Don’t let them fool you. They think bike lanes on busy streets such as Mary Ave are good enough. They are against spending millions on trails for local bicycles and pedestrians even though we spend BILLIONS on roads for cars. Many are afraid of change and of bicyclists and pedestrians. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt blind them to the many benefits that safe and attractive local trails bring to our community, including increased property values, reduced traffic, less pollution, safer routes to schools, and better access to parks. Trails most benefit the nearest neighbors and they should be fighting to have a trail close to them instead of pushing young and old alike onto busy streets.

Unfortunately, trail opponents greatly outnumbered supporters at the first public meeting held on Thursday, May 21 in Sunnyvale. Unless many more supporters show up at the next two public meetings and/or send supportive emails, completing the Stevens Creek Trail may not happen.

If you believe in a safe and beautiful Stevens Creek Trail from the Bay Trail to the Ridge Trail, please send an email in favor and consider speaking at one of the 2 remaining meetings. With your help we can convince naysayers and City Councils that extending the trail is a valuable investment in our community that will pay dividends for generations.

Send emails to SCTfeasibilitystudy@sunnyvale.ca.gov and copy us at info@stevenscreektrail.org.
Attend one of the 2 remaining public input meetings, open to everyone from any city:

Monday June 1, 6:30-9:30pm at Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue, Cupertino
Monday June 8, 6:30-9:30pm at Senior Center, 266 Escuela Avenue, Mountain View

All meetings have the same format – public speaking is limited to 2 minutes per person. If you can, please bring family and friends. Having kids speak and/or write emails can be particularly effective.

We will have 2 speaker prep meetings to help you prepare and answer questions:

Sunday May 31, 4-6pm at 795 Allison Way, Sunnyvale
Sunday June 7, 4-6pm at 795 Allison Way, Sunnyvale

If you plan to attend any meetings or just want FOSCT to know your trail alignment preference, please RSVP at: http://stevenscreektrail.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=9f44f10f454414cf7d50cee29&id=0ccaf6b59e&e=0a237de5f7
(one form submission per person)

For a wealth of information about what is happening, please see:
1) The Stevens Creek Trail Feasibility Study at http://stevenscreektrail.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=9f44f10f454414cf7d50cee29&id=f563a8b596&e=0a237de5f7.
2) The special website we’ve created at http://stevenscreektrail.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=9f44f10f454414cf7d50cee29&id=971b31ef5a&e=0a237de5f7 with speaking points and frequently asked questions.

Completing the Stevens Creek Trail is clearly feasible – the study has shown that. Overcoming opposition and choosing a beautiful route is the next step. We urgently request that you make your support known for completing the Stevens Creek Trail in a safe and attractive manner. Thanks!

Best regards,

Aaron Grossman, Executive Director
Friends of Stevens Creek Trail (FOSCT)

7 Comments

  1. I have not read the detailed proposals, but removing street parking or a traffic lane is certainly better than somewhere else I read: Eminent Domain might be used to take front yards, which is a HUGE difference in regards to property owners and property rights. I support using the existing roadway and parking lane to bridge this transportation and recreational trail gap.

  2. What this post fails to point out is that the proposal is not for completing the Stevens Creek Trail. The study is proposing to add bike paths on residential streets to connect the Stevens Creek Trail between Mountain View and Cupertino. Please be HONEST and call a bike path a bike path and not a trail. It does NOT and will NOT provide the same feel as the true Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View, It will disrupt residential neighborhoods and spend millions of dollars to build additional bridges. Please read the Feasibility Report quoted in the article and you will find out for yourself.

  3. Did you read the post, Kenneth? Or are you just here to propagate the FUD? 5th paragraph down: “Because right-of-way is not available along the creek itself between Fremont Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard, the study proposes various alignments to create something like bicycle boulevards on quiet residential streets.”

  4. You asked me to read the feasibility study. Are you talking about the same study that says its unfeasible to construct that fully separated trail that you claim to advocate?

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