Nov 14

Second Sierra Azul Master Planning Meeting

I attended the second Sierra Azul / bear Creek Redwoods Master Plan meeting on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at the Neighborhood Center in Los Gatos. The cycling communtiy was well represented by ROMP’s webmaster, Tom Oshima, NorCAMBA Executive Director Patty Ciesla, ROMP President Josh Moore, and many other local cyclists. This is an overview of what happened at the meeting in case you could not attend.
As you may know, the first meeting solicited input from the community about what we would like to see in the Open Space, and what cultural, natural and man made resources there were in the OSPs. There was tremndous turnout from all the stakeholders including cyclists, hikers, dog walkers, equestrians and neighbors. Generally speaking the Mountain bike community expressed the desire for multi use single track trails, and regional connectors from Los Gatos: to Skyline Boulevard through both Bear Creek Redwoods to the West, and Sierra Azul to the East; to lmaden Quicksilver along the alignment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail; and to Soquel Demonstration Forest through the Loma Prieta Section of Sierra Azul. There was also a lot of interest in accessing the summit of Mount Umunum.

Between the first and second Master Plan meeting, MROSD surveyed the area for flora and fauna, cultural resources and other challenges and opportunites the Master Plan faces. They also conducted focus groups with ROMP, equestrians from the Bear Creek Redwoods Stable, dog walkers, and neighbors in the skyline area represented by MOSS. The purpose of the second was to elicit more community input in light of the challenges and opportunities discovered in the interim.

A number of ideas were mentioned in the Cyclist focus group. In addition to suggesting longer loops and regional trail connectors, we spent a significant amount of time talking about specially designated trails in the Loma Prieta area near Soquel Demonstration Forest. These trails would be more primitive, have a higher speed limit and possibly a cycling only designation. This area has significant challenges and opportunities, however. This area is an especially unique habitat because of the southern exposure and coastal fog, which creates a special microcosm for unique and rare flora. In addition, this area generally has more than a 50% grade, making trails in the area difficult to construct and hard to maintain.

One of the challenges of Sierra Azul is the toxic waste left by the US Air Force on top of Mount Umunum. MROSD has successfully petioned the government to list this as a superfund(?) cleanup site, but has not been funded yet. Contact your government officials and let them know that you would like this cleaned up now. Some points you can make are:

* The Government made this mess, so clean up after yourself
* This site is part of the cultural heritage of the area and should be restored and returned to the residents
* The Bay area is densely populated so there is a large tax base paying for this cleanup
* We need more recreational opportunities

Find your Goventment Representatives here:

In addition, MROSD has offered to re-create “Friends of Mount Umunum”. If you are intereseted in staying up-to-date with what is happening, contact info at openspace.org, with “Friends of Mount Umunum” in the subject line.

After an introduction to the Challenges and Opportunities by planner Ana Ruiz (aruiz at openspace.org), we were randomly placed into break out groups. I happened to fall into one of two Bear Creek Redwoods groups. Since I had gotten a special permit to hike in the preserve over the summer, I felt I was in the right place. Half of this preserve is currently closed without a permit, and the other half is open to equestrians. There is an opportunity here for multi-use trails in a shaded area that could go from Lexington Resavoir to Skyline, near Bear Creek Road, and to Santa Clara County’s Moody Gulch Park. I left the meeting wth a pretty good feeling as there seemed to be little tension between the cycling and equestrian interests represented in the group. Since most if not all of the current trails in these parks are fire roads, I am more optimistic that MROSD will designate the trails in Bear Creek multi-use, than I was after the first meeting. This is not however, decided, and we need to petition to get this open to cyclists. Please use the resources below.

MROSD has guidelines that 65% of trails should be multi-use. They have learned from experience that changing from a multi-use designation to dual-use or hiking only is unpopular and should be avoided. In addition, they tend to designate whole preserves as multi-use, rather than specific trails. Therefore, I am confident that the trails that are currently open to cyclists will remain so, or more sustainable multi-use alternatives will be constructed. It is possible, that entire areas of Sierra Azul may be designated hiking only, such as the Rancho Guadaloupe area or the Loma Prieta area.After the break out groups, a volunteer from each group summarized what was said in their groups. The general consensus was multi-use and more trails to provide more recreational and educational opportnities for everyone.

Lastly, MROSD staff reminded us that there will be one more community input meeting in 2006, where the conceptual, over all plan will be revealed. This plan I believe will include general trail corridors and trail designations. Once the Master Plan is approved, then MROSD will begin implementing the plan over the next several years.

If you are interested in getting more involved in the Sierra Azul master plan process below are some resources.

Sierra Azul Master Plan Page

Sierra Azul user Questionnaire
Preliminary summary of results from User Questionnaire

Contact the Planner to be put on the mailing list, and with your concerns and input.
aruiz at http:opnespace.org

Contact your board member with your concerns and input

Thanks for your interest and participation,

Josh Moore
ROMP President