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Supervisors Shoot Down Alpine Trail Offer

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors reject a $10.4 million offer from Stanford University to improve damaged trail.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to decline a $10.4 million offer from Stanford University to improve the trail along Alpine Road.

Supervisors Rose Jacobs Gibson, Adrienne Tissier and Carole Groom voted to shoot down the offer, while Dave Pine and Don Horsley favored approving the recommendation from county staff to spend more time studying .

Ginger Holt, a resident of the unincorporated community that neighbors the trail, said she was shocked and delighted by the board's decision.

"I'm speechless," said Holt, moments after supervisors rendered their votes. "The board has listened to the community, and it made the right decision."

Holt and many of her neighbors urged the board to turn down the offer from Stanford. Others from the nearby Ladera neighborhood pleaded with the board to accept the money and study potential improvements to that spans between Menlo Park and Portola Valley.

Nearly 60 residents from Ladera and Stanford Weekend Acres publicly voiced their opinion to supervisors before a vote from the board decided the matter Tuesday. 

Many from Stanford Weekend Acres expressed concerns that the trail is dangerous due its as well as its proximity to traffic on Alpine Road. They also said building a larger, multi-use recreational trail in the area would only create more safety hazards.

Meanwhile, those from Ladera encouraged the board to to accept an offer from Stanford that would keep the money on the table until 2013. Study which one of the five previously agreed upon trail configurations was the best improvement, they said. Then vote again prior to constructing anything. 

Attorney and San Jose State law professor Joseph Dworak, who lives in Ladera, told supervisors they had "no compelling reason to not accept" the university's offer.

Ultimately, a majority of the board disagreed. Tuesday's decision was the third time county supervisors have turned down money earmarked for trail improvements from Stanford.

Groom, who voted against accepting the money twice, said that the county could pursue other options to fix the trail, such as locating available grant funding. She called her decision "a vote for a more reasonable solution."

Tissier also favored making improvements to the trail, albeit ones that did not include large scale construction projects as stipulations for fund distribution. She was dismayed when Stanford representative Larry Horton said it was unlikely that would contribute leased land on the university's campus for trail space, which was a previously agreed upon option. Tissier considered the inclusion of unavailable land in a negotiation to be "somewhat disingenuous."

Jacobs Gibson said it wasn't a viable option to construct a trail across Stanford land, which would have been necessary to bypass the segment that borders Stanford Weekend Acres.

Both Pine and Horsley argued in favor of the county taking more time to study different trail configurations before voting on whether to proceed with one. In the end, their efforts were in vain.

The millions will now go to Santa Clara County to be used for similar trail projects.

Outside the Board Chambers in Redwood City, Holt said she wanted the resolution to mark the end of the contentious issue that has divided the communities of Stanford Weekend Acres and Ladera for years.

"I'm hopeful that we can begin the healing process," she said.

Steve Hayes December 14, 2011 at 07:39 AM
It is no wonder San Mateo County has fiscal problems - the Supervisors are offered $10 million on a silver platter and they turn it down - how stupid!!! I am sure Santa Clara will figure out how to use the money quite quickly - they do not have people like Groom, Gibson and Tissler.
Kerry - ND December 14, 2011 at 07:51 AM
Please tell me there is something else to this story. Like it's actually an article from The Onion.
Annette S December 14, 2011 at 07:56 AM
I have not followed this issue, but I do know that many residents in Portola Valley are against increasing traffic and visitors to these trails, any improvements would bring more people to the area, and they don't want droves of people up there, they like their privacy.
Kerry - ND December 14, 2011 at 08:34 AM
Great, let's wait until some gets hurt due to the neglect so the county gets sued because people don't want to share what doesn't belong to them.
Cathy Baird December 14, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Thanks, Gibson, Tissler, and Groom, for listening to the parochial concerns of Stanford Weekend Acres instead of common sense. I'll remember this vote at election time. I'm sure Santa Clara County will enjoy using Stanford's money.
Cathy Baird December 14, 2011 at 04:57 PM
http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_19499835?source=pkg
Chef Veena.N.K December 14, 2011 at 05:11 PM
And, why did they reject Stanford's offer? I can't imagine who in their right mind would do that! Atrocious!
Laura McLaughlin- Stein December 14, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Things are not always as they appear: http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_19533737?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com
Brian Ginna December 14, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Why would anyone put any stock in what Lennie Roberts puts forth? She is merely a moneyed special interest (funded by millionaires in Portola Valley) and represents a small fraction of very anti-people environmentalists. She would be happy if the remaining 20% of the land in San Mateo County that is not already owned by either the government or NGOs was put in those hands. She does not want us living on the Coastside.
Brian Ginna December 14, 2011 at 05:42 PM
And never forget people - Dave Pine is one of Lennie's backers, funders and former Green Foothills Board Members. He has to resign due to the obvious conflicts of interests. But his loyalty lies with them. Lies? Who said that.
Kerry - ND December 14, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Laura, the article you link is an opinion authored by people who clearly aren't unbiased. San Mateo county is on the hook regardless and I don't see why it should change just because Stanford upgrades their trail. The budgeting and scheduling I'm willing to bet could be worked out. What can't be dealt with is people who own land next to a public right of way and want to treat it like part of their personal fortress. The self-entitlement of people never ceases to amaze me despite its ubiquitousness.
Cathy Baird December 14, 2011 at 07:46 PM
The link I posted is also an opinion piece. It happens to make sense to me. The follow-up from Diana Gerba, Ginger Holt and Lennie Roberts does not.

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