The Paper Trail
The document history of county trails over Stanford land
Preliminary - 3 NOV
At the request of County Supervisor Liz Kniss, we've put together
the available comments on trails in the Stanford area as we've found
them in public documents. These are in chronological order.
Stanford's comments on the 1995 trail plan revision.
In 1995, Stanford was asked by the County to comment on the Countywide
Trail Master Plan, which was being updated at the time. (Ref Letter
K, September 15, 1995, in "Final Supplemental Environmental Impact
Report, Countywide Trail Master Plan Update".) Stanford's comment
on trail routing at that time was as follows:
"We would not want to provide additional pathways
through the existing leaseholds in the Research Park (Trail S1 between
El Camino Real and Junipero Serra Boulevard). We would also need
to prevent public access to other leaseholds on Stanford lands.
The open space west of Junipero Serra Boulevard are agricultural
leases and public access would need to be prevented. It would be
possible to consider easements at the boundaries of the leases if
they were fenced to prevent public access. This could affect portions
of trails S1, C1, and C2."
The "leaseholds in the research park" issue reflects that Trail
S-1, if run along Matadero Creek as in the plan, would run through
the Research Park from El Camino to Junipero Serra. Connecting to
the existing trail along Stanford Avenue is an alternative which
would avoid this objection expressed by Stanford.
Stanford also pointed out a minor inconsistency in the map:
There is an exception for the section of Trail S1 between
Junipero Serra Boulevard and and Page Mill Road, which is Stanford
land within the County jurisdiction. It appears this segment should
be designated XOX rather than a solid line.
Stanford is pointing out an error in the map in the Trail Master
Plan. Stanford thus, in 1995, took the position that trail S-1,
as mapped, runs over Stanford land, not along existing roads. The
"XOX" designation refers to "trail within private
property". (Trail C-1 is already designated "XOX"
from Sand Hill Road at the Palo Alto city line all the way to Arastadero
Stanford also made a general policy statement on trails:
Policy C-PR-26 states that private developers will be encouraged
to incorporate indicated trail routes into their projects. We
support this concept in all areas where it would not be in direct
conflict with our academic mission.
So as of 1995, the positions taken by Stanford were generally supportive
of building good trails through Stanford lands, provided that a
few specific problems were dealt with.
An early draft for Stanford's General Use Permit contains the following,
in the "Trails and Pathways" section:
Academic studies and agriculture activities can be negatively
impacted by trails. A trail can alter the use of the land by
wildlife, and/or interrupt the grazing patterns of domestic
animals. Field studies and course-related projects are threatened
by unregulated access. Two of Stanford's major interests are
to preserve its valuable academic reserve and to protect its
undeveloped lands from inconsistent uses.
The future trails shown on the County Trails map are proposed
as sub-regional and connector trails in the Countywide Trails
Master Plan. They are intended to provide links between developed
urban areas and open space in the baylands and ridges. Final
detailed alignments of these links must be studied carefully
to protect sensitive habitat areas, and on-going academic, agricultural,
and residential uses.
Route S1 is shown as a "sub-regional route on other public
lands" in the Matadero Creek/Page Mill Road corridor and is
partially on a public road. The alignment follows Matadero Creek
and Old Page Mill Road in the Stanford Community Plan area.
A number of constraining factors will affect development of
The connector route C1, in the San Francisquito/Los Trancos
Creek corridors, is designated as a "trail route within private
property." The alignment generally follows the creeks and Alpine
Road. Ensuring the privacy of homeowners and security of agricultural
tenants will be important to address in planning this route.
Note that at this time, Stanford recognized that trail C-1 was
a trail across private property and that it would run near some
agricultural tenancies. Also note that at this time, Stanford made
no claim that trail C-1 was complete.
Stanford Community Plan / General Use Permit EIR / Plan Consistency
Review (June 23, 2000)
Early drafts of Stanford's GUP, generated by Stanford, did not
call for building any trails. In this early draft of the EIR associated
with Stanford's GUP, this lack of trail dedications is called out
as "not consistent" (ref Item PR-TS 3.7, page 3-5) with
the County Trails Master Plan. The EIR points this out as an inconsistency,
and justifies the trail requirement which was later added to the
GUP. The section ends with the words "Thus, there is
a nexus and rough proportionality between the project's impacts
and the trail dedication requirement, and dedication of the aformentioned
trails could be required by the county as a GUP condition of approval."
County staff (with some encouragement from Supervisor Simitian)
then added a trail requirement to the GUP.
In response to the Draft EIR review mentioned above issued by Santa
Clara County on June 23, 2000, Stanford replied by letter, which
included the following:
I. Chapter 3 — Plan Consistency
Stanford disagrees with the EIR's conclusion that approval
of the proposed Community Plan and General Use Permit would
be inconsistent with the Santa Clara County Trails Master Plan.
As stated in the EIR, Stanford's proposed Community Plan identifies
the two route alignments shown in the County Trails Master Plan.
Both trail alignments are located in the foothills district,
one near Matadero Creek and the other near San Francisquito
Creek. No development is proposed near these routes. Therefore,
approval of the Community Plan and build-out of the projects
authorized by the GUP will not interfere with future implementation
of the County's Trails Master Plan. Furthermore, the proposed
Community Plan carries out the trails plan by requiring Stanford
to work with local agencies to define more precise trail alignments
for the portions of the trails crossing Stanford lands.
The EIR appears to conclude, nevertheless, that to achieve
consistency with the Countywide Trails Master Plan, Stanford
also must dedicate the two trails crossing Stanford's lands.
This conclusion is in error. The Countywide Trails Master Plan
Development projects proposed on lands that include a trail
as shown on the Countywide Trails Master Plan Map may be required
to dedicate/and or improve such trail to the extent there is
a nexus between the impacts of the proposed development and
the dedication/improvement requirement. The dedication/improvement
requirement shall be roughly proportional to the impacts of
the proposed development. (Policy PR - TS 3.7) (emphasis added)
It is clear from the Plan's language that dedication and/or
improvement of trails is not necessary in order to achieve consistency
with this policy: the policy states that the County may require
dedication in appropriate cases. If the County chooses not to
require dedication and/or improvement of the trails crossing
Stanford's land as a condition of approval of the Community
Plan and/or General Use Permit, the County's decision would
not be inconsistent with the Plan.
In this case, dedication of the trails is not warranted.
No development is proposed on land that includes the trails
shown in the Trails Master Plan. Further, there is not an essential
nexus between the proposed dedication condition and the project's
impacts. Nor is the dedication requirement roughly proportional
to the project's impacts. As shown in Table 4.2-1 of the Draft
EIR, Stanford provides numerous recreational and athletic resources
to the campus community and to the general public. These facilities
have sufficient capacity to accommodate the increased demand
for recreational opportunities created by the increase in campus
residential population, as well as the increase in the faculty,
staff and student population. Existing and proposed campus open
space and recreational areas also have sufficient capacity to
accommodate any increase in demand for such resources caused
by the proposed infill development of vacant parcels in the
faculty subdivision. As the EIR explains, under the Community
Plan's proposed land use designations, Stanford would continue
to maintain campus parks and open space at a rate far exceeding
the maximum requirement of 5 acres for 1,000 population.
Stanford remains committed to working with the County and
other local agencies to study alignments of the trails crossing
Stanford's lands that are shown on the Countywide Trails Master
Plan. The goal of these studies would be to arrive at an alignment
that would protect sensitive habitat areas, as well as on-going
academic, agricultural, and residential uses. However, Stanford
opposes a requirement that it dedicate these trails at this
This appears to be Stanford's earliest formal opposition to trail
dedications. Stanford is arguing that they should not be required
to dedicate trails in the foothills as part of this project, because
they're not being allowed to build much in the foothills. The County
does not agree.
From the Open Space, Recreation, and Visual Resources section of
Recreational use of Stanford land is enjoyed by residents
of the Stanford campus and neighboring communities. The close
proximity of the Stanford foothills to the developed areas of
the Midpeninsula make it a popular destination. Use of these
lands is allowed by permission of the University. Recreational
use of the foothills raises several associated issues:
• While the foothills are a popular recreation destination
and used in the manner of a park by many visitors, they are
not publicly owned or operated. Stanford does not provide the
amenities that are normally associated with public trails and
does not patrol the area to prevent visitors from leaving designated
trails or manage the land as a recreation area. As a result,
recreational use may contribute to trail and environmental degradation.
• Trail user parking is a particular concern to residents
of the neighboring faculty/staff subdivision. As a result, Stanford
instituted a residential parking permit program in this neighborhood
and trail users have been parking along Stanford Avenue, which
is a County-maintained road. As a result of continued resident
concerns, the speed limit has been reduced and the County has
modified the road to manage parking and reduce erosion, but
has continued to allow public parking along the street.
• Visitor access to environmentally sensitive areas, particularly
riparian areas which are home to special status species, has
the potential to result in degradation of habitat and direct
impacts on animals, as well as adverse effects on research,
education, and restoration efforts.
Maintaining natural resources in the foothills will require
achievement of a balance between environmental protection and
access to open space.
Note the mention of the Stanford Avenue parking and traffic problem.
This is an ongoing issue for the Stanford "residental leaseholders".
(A recent proposal involving a traffic circle at Stanford and Junipero
Serra may alleviate this problem, by allowing trail users to turn
around without causing traffic jams.)
These lands are located south of Junipero Serra Boulevard,
extending across Interstate 280 and into San Mateo County. The
foothills consist of grassland, mixed woodland, and riparian
areas, and are largely undeveloped. They are used for research
and agricultural leases, most notably “the Dish.” They are not
officially designated for recreational use, but are commonly
used by the public for jogging and hiking. While Stanford currently
has a policy restricting public use to designated trails, this
policy has not been enforced. Stanford recently announced
its intentions to limit access and enforce trail use restrictions
through its Conservation and Use Plan for the Dish area, as
described below. The Stanford foothills provide a scenic backdrop
to the central campus area. This area is currently designated
as Special Condition Area C under the 1989 GUP, where development
regulations require a separate County Use Permit for all non-residential
buildings in excess of 5,000 square feet and all residential
buildings other than caretaker housing units.
Here we see a mention of the fact that public access to the Dish
area was allowed until August 2000, but that Stanford was preparing
to restrict access.
Public hearing, September 7, 2000
A hearing on the above recommendations took place on September
7, 2000 in the Palo Alto City Council Chambers, with Supervisor
Joe Simitian presiding. Minutes of that meeting presumably exist,
but are not immediately available to us. Those who were there (which
included most of the people involved on all sides) will recall strong
community support for continued access to the Dish area and strong
opposition to its development.
Public hearing, Board of Supervisors, November 2000
This contentious hearing ran into the early morning hours, with
more than a hundred speakers representing both sides. Stanford bused
in its supporters; the community generally car-pooled. Minutes are
Stanford's General Use Permit (December 2000)
In December 2000, after a long, contentious public process, agreement
between Stanford and Santa Clara County on the General Use Permit
and Community Plan was reached. The trail requirement went into
the General Use Permit and was formally signed off by both the Santa
Clara County Board of Supervisors and Stanford's administration.
From the final Conditions of Approval of Stanford's
2000 General Use Permit: from the County of Santa Clara:
2. Stanford shall dedicate easements for,
develop, and maintain the portions of the two trail alignments
which cross Stanford lands shown in the 1995 Santa Clara Countywide
Trails Master Plan (Routes S1 and C1), according to the following
a. In consultation with the County Parks
and Recreation Department, Stanford shall identify trail
easements and complete Agreements for Trail Easements within
one year of GUP approval. For purposes of this condition,
the term “easement” includes any other equally enforceable
mechanism acceptable to the County Board of Supervisors.
b. Stanford shall work with the County Parks and Recreation
Department to identify responsibilities for trail construction,
management and maintenance. An agreement regarding these
issues, including but not limited to a time frame for implementation,
shall be reached within one year of GUP approval.
This is the basis of Stanford's legal commitment to dedicate and
here for related documents and maps)
This is Stanford's first formal proposal on trail alignments. Discussions
between Stanford and Parks and Rec had been underway for months,
but had not generated a public paper trail. This letter is from
Charles Carter, a planner at Stanford, to Mark Fredrick, a planning
supervisor at Parks and Rec.
This letter is entirely about trail issues. The route proposed
for trail C-1 is entirely along Sand Hill and Alpine Roads, the
Alpine Road section being in San Mateo County and continuing into
Portola Valley. Stanford indicates that some parts of the trail
are complete, some are substandard, and in some areas there is "no
tral". The proposal envisions a bike route, referencing "County
design guidelines T-1, T-4, and T-5", which is a reference
not to the County Trails Master Plan proper, but to the 1999 addendum
for urban bike paths.
The route proposed for S-1 begins at Page Mill/Junipero Serra,
follows Page Mill to Deer Creek, and then crosses Stanford land
to end at Arastadero Road and I-280 near Los Altos Hills. Again,
bike paths, not recreational trails, are proposed, and references
are made to guidelines only applicable inside urban areas, even
though Stanford's proposed route goes through undeveloped terrain.
Stanford does not propose to actually build all the required trail
sections; some are merely to be "studied" at this time.
The Stanford route proposal thus leaves sizable gaps in the trail,
most notably the section through Menlo Park anong Sand Hill and
the section past Happy Hollow on Alpine.
This is the County's reply to Stanford's proposal. It contains
five specific criticisms of Stanford's proposal:
Recommendation 1: Provide
regional connectivity for the Bay Trail to the Bay Area
Ridge Trail route by linking the S1 Route on unincorporated
Stanford lands to the countywide network of regional trails.
- Extend Route S1 - Segment A from its
proposed start/terminus location at Page Mill Road and
Junipero Serra Boulevard to connect to the City of Palo
Alto's Trails Master Plan route(s) that will
continue to the San Francisco Bay Trail (See Map 1).
Provide a complete and continuous trail as per the GUP
conditions by providing either alternative
trail alignments outside of Stanford lands and/or alternative
solutions on Stanford unincorporated
lands. There should be no unaccounted for gaps in the
proposed trail routes.
Gap identified on Route C1 -Segment
B (Sand Hill Road Area):
- Develop Route C1 - Segment B alternative
alignments that can be used by trail users in the interim
period, given that the status of the Sand Hill Road
improvement project in Menlo Park remains unresolved
at this time.
- Develop and execute an Agreement with
the City of Menlo Park to indicate the specific time
frame that Stanford will complete the trail alignment
along Sand Hill Road within MenloPark's jurisdiction.
- Or, identify alternative trail alignments
within Stanford's unincorporated lands to fulfill the
Gap identified on Route CI-Segment
E (Happy Hollow Area):
- Submit a trail assessment study of
the existing conditions for the Alpine Recreational
Trail, incollaboration with San Mateo County and Portola
Valley, as noted in the proposal. Trail assessment should
consider the following design recommendations:
a) Incorporation of the existing bike
lanes on Alpine Road, where existing, into the widening
of the improved Alpine Recreational Trail.
b) Use and design of safety barriers
and landscaped buffers within the appropriate trail
setbacks, as determined in Table UD-1 of the Uniform
Design, Use, and Management Guidelines,
to provide for the safety and
aesthetic experience of the trail users on Route
- Develop and execute an Agreement with
San Mateo County and other necessary jurisdictions for
the construction, maintenance, and management of the
improved Alpine Recreational Trail segment for Route
Provide preliminary environmental analyses for the evaluation
of the trail feasibility of Routes
S1 and C1.
- Identify significant environmental issues
and provide information on the possible environmental
impacts in the proposed locations of Routes S1 and C1.
Stanford may refer to the California Environmental Quality
Act (CEQA) Initial Study Environmental Checklist document
as a guideline for preparing a preliminary environmental
analysis. However, an independent consultant
retained by the County at Stanford's expense will prepare
an Initial Study, if one is needed, for CEQA documentation.
- Include analyses of trail user safety,
traffic, circulation, and parking impacts for the proposed
- Identify areas of environmental concern(s)
for biological resources, such as red-legged frog and
riparian habitat areas, on a map showing the proposed
Recommendation 4: Provide
site topographic maps to determine the feasibility of
aligning Route S1 trail segments along the agricultural
leasehold lands east of Page Mill Road.
- Provide a trail slope analysis for
Route S1 to identify portions of the trail alignment
that exceeds the optimum 11 % slope.
- Where needed, complete a grading plan
to indicate how Route S1 will be designed to meet the
Countywide Trails Master Plan design guidelines
for trail grades within 11% and not to exceed 15% slope
in the foothills.
Expand the current program description of maintenance
and management responsibilities
for Routes S1 and C1.
- Meet with the involved agencies, such
as the San Mateo County Parks and Recreation, Portola
Valley, and etc. to determine the responsibilities.of
the maintenance and management for Route C1
- Develop and execute an Agreement with
the involved agencies for maintenance and management
of Route C1
Parks and Rec staff have pointed out the clear deficiencies in
Stanford's proposal. Staff appears to be willing to accept Stanford's
routings if, and only if, Stanford can resolve all the problems
inherent in those routings.
This letter represents Stanford's bargaining position as of mid-October,
2001. The mater has escalated one level on each side; Robert Reidy
is Stanford's Vice Provost for Land and Buildings, while Paul Romero
is Director of Santa Clara County Environmental Resources/Parks
and Recreation. Stanford is unhappy about Parks and Rec insisting
on compliance, and offers various reasons why compliance should
not be required of Stanford.
We do feel, however, that it will be useful
for us to articulate our basic position on the trails requirement.
Stanford's proposal for meeting the GUP trail requirement remains
what was put forth on August 31, 2001.
Our staff will provide documentation that
the proposed S-l (Matadero) route can be built and operated to
meet Uniform InterJurisdictional Trail Design, Use and Management
Guidelines. (See Attachment #1). Alternatively, if the County
feels that the proposed routes cannot be accepted without agreements
for extension from adjoining jurisdictions, Stanford will propose
an alignment on Stanford Land that specifically conforms to that
shown in the Community Plan and County Wide Trails Master Plan.
(See attachement #2)
Santa Clara County and San Mateo County
have deemed the C-1 (San Francisquito) route complete in their
respective trails master plans. Stanford believes that its proposed
alignment follows this route and is therefore consistent with
the Community Plan and County Wide Trails Master Plan. Further,
we believe that plan policies for protection of existing agricultural
use and environmental resources support continue use of this route.
Stanford has proposed measures to improve the C-1 route and has
reached tentative agreement with Menlo Park for implementing improvements
and management of the Sand Hill Road segment of C- I in Menlo
Park. Stanford will continue to work with the agencies to develop
an appropriate improvement and maintenance program for the remaining
segments of the C- I route within the existing alignment in San
The "tenative agreement with Menlo Park" mentioned above
does not exist. A preliminary meeting did take place between Stanford
University representatives, the Menlo Park City Manager, and the
head of Menlo Park Parks and Recreation. However, Stanford's request
for a letter of support for Stanford's proposal was rejected. (Documents
to follow. Contact Menlo Park City Manager David Boesch or Menlo
Park Councilmember Paul Collachi for confirmation.)
Note the reference to "Uniform InterJurisdictional
Trail Design, Use and Management Guidelines.". All previous
documents, including the GUP, have referenced the County Trails
Master Plan. The distinction is that the County Trails Master Plan
contains the standards for rural trails, while the "Uniform
InterJurisdictional Trail Design, Use and Management Guidelines"
is an addendum from 1999 which specifies standards for urban
trails and bike paths designated as "High Volume/Urban Experience".
These are "Interjurisdictional Guidelines" because they
are intended for use by cities within Santa Clara County. It would
be appropriate to use these guidelines for trail sections within
the city limits of Palo Alto, for example, but not in rural areas
or open space. This is an attempt by Stanford to escape the trail
width, trail type, and setback requirements of the County Trails
Master Plan. For example, the County Trails Master Plan specifies
unpaved recreational trails with a 25' easement (Table G-2) and
setbacks from occupied dwellings of 150-500' outside urban service
areas, depending on land use (Table G-1). The Interjurisdictional
Guidelines, on the other hand, describe paved bike paths which can
run as close as 10' to an occupied dwelling (Fig. T5A).
The claim that trail C-1 is "complete" rests solely on
one checked box in the "trail matrix" in the Santa Clara
County Trail Master Plan. This is an error. The trail is not complete
on the ground. In previous documents from Stanford quoted above,
Stanford did not claim it was complete.
This letter from Reidy thus contains multiple misrepresentations
and deceptive statements. (This is in contrast to the previous documents
from Stanford, with which one can disagree, but which generally
seem to be factual.)