Oct 16

Imminent loss of Nisene Marks to bikes!

The Marks family donated the property in the fifties long before anyone had heard of mountain bikes. The deed restrictions on the property forbade horses from the property. A couple of years ago an anonymous donor gave $100,000 to the park to come up with a General Plan. After several (contentious) public meetings a plan was generated that heavily favored the hiking interests by trying to make the upper reaches of the park a Wilderness area. This was rejected by Sacramento as unjustified so the plan was modified such that recreation could be considered (in other words, Nisene Marks would be a state park). Certain members of the hiking community sued to prevent mountain bikes from possibly getting legal access to those areas of the park (which see almost zero hiking traffic) using the argument that mountain bikes were essentially the same as horses and thus violated the deed restrictions (which, according to David Baskin, are on shaky legal ground anyway and have since expired). This decision is the result of that suit. This is a sorry summary of the process, so if I left out any relevant details or misrepresented the situation.

The news is BAD. Tentatively, bikes have been banned from all of the Marks family deeded lands, including the Aptos Creek fire road. This is a very big deal for us.

Don’t make the mistake I made – when I first thought about it, I figured we were losing access to a 12 mile fire road climb which starts on the wrong side of the hill for me. Hard to justify driving all the way over to Aptos to climb a fire road.

But then I realized that the top of the fire road would also be impacted. This means that the route which most people take in to Soquel Demonstration Forest would be closed! Closing the fire road would severly impact a very popular loop.

The judge in Sacramento ruled that the plaintiffs were correct to interpret the intent of the deed in such a way that it precluded bikes, just like it precluded horses. Basically she felt that bikes were more like horses than pedestrians. Both sides have been asked to submit additional information about what should happen to the General Plan, given that bikes won’t be allowed. There will be a hearing Nov. 12 to decide what should happen to the General Plan.

At that point, State Parks will have to decide whether or not to appeal. With no appeal, bikes will be illegal in most of the park, now and in the future.

This anti mtb lawsuit and decision cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. Let’s try to do something to prevent future bike access above the steel bridge in Nisene Marks SP from being blocked altogether. As for what we need to do…we need to combine with area bicycle and other user groups who do not support the finding and find a lawyer who can advise us pro bono. This will be on the Oct 25th ROMP agenda.

Posted the legal documents related to the Nisene case online:
The original filed petition
Scanned copy of the court documents (91 pages 5 Mb)

Thanks to Alex Gershenson for making the trip to Sacremeto, picking up the documents and scanning them.

This was posted not too long ago on the MTBR.com website