I just got back from a meeting of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, where I spoke in favor of two bike/pedestrian infrastructure projects that would benefit significantly if approved to be funded through decade-old mitigation money from Stanford. As is often the case, the outcome was mixed, but mostly positive.
Initially, Board President Shirakawa had proposed an indefinite hold on the public hearing, proposed by Supervisor Kniss, until other projects could be proposed and considered, as there are some parties who argue that there was not adequate notice of public hearing for competing projects to be readied. After some back-and-forth between Supervisors Shirakawa, Kniss, and Cortese, they reached a compromise and the motion was proposed to allow the public hearing, but not take any action until staff could solicit further proposals. A timeline was established, whereby proposals are due in June and a decision will be made in August.
When the schedule brought us around to the public hearing, an hour and a half later, I made comments to the Board that SVBC strongly supports the proposed projects to build a bike/ped overpass over Highway 101 at Adobe Creek, and to construct the missing section of the Bay Trail through Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. I told the Supervisors that both projects meet criteria that SVBC values. Specifically:
- They provide opportunities for both recreation and commuting.
- They are the kinds of facilities that encourage bicycling for all people, from 8 to 80.
- They will connect multiple communities and people from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.
- They are ready to be build: The Dumbarton link of the Bay Trail project will leverage an existing commitment from Facebook, and the Adobe Creek Overpass is already in the feasibility stage at the City of Palo Alto.
- If mitigation funds from Stanford are approved for the projects, they will be cheap for the taxpayer.
There will be some debate moving forward about the specifics of the mitigation agreement, but there is no doubt in my mind that these facilities will provide an excellent recreation opportunity for Stanford residents and facilities users. Access to the Palo Alto Baylands and Ravenswood Open Space Preserve will be expanded and miles of walking, biking, and jogging path will be connected to. The fact that these projects will also be suitable for commuting does not diminish their eligibility for these funds. Rather, their dual functions make them even more worthy of funding.
Thanks to everyone who responded to our Action Alert on this issue with emails, phone cards, and personal appearances at today's meeting. This is exactly the kind of advocacy work that needs the whole community's support – and will one day benefit the whole community.
Stay tuned – we're expecting updates this summer!