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Pedestrian Access at Boardwalk/Trestle Bridge - Boardwalk and City Staff Collaborate?

[It really looks to me like City Staff and the Boardwalk have been caught trying to sneak one over on the public... City Staff is taking the "easy" way out here, by attempting to do this without public input. Debbie makes a number of good points in this article. Maybe this is a reasonable trade off... but we, the public, won't know, unless and until there's been a lot mroe information released. -Thomas]


From: Debbie Bulger
To: dfbulger (at) cruzio.com
Subject: Ped access at Boardwalk/Trestle Bridge
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2005 12:48:14 -0700 (15:48 EDT)

Dear All,


Here is what I have found out about the proposed closing of the ped access at the Boardwalk and re-routing of the bike exit/approach to the bridge on the west:


The item has been pulled from the August 10 meeting of the Coastal Commission at the request of the Seaside Company. It is likely to be rescheduled for October.


On Friday, July 29 I met twice with people at the site to learn more about the proposed project: One meeting was with Chris Schneiter, Cheryl Schmitt (both from the city PW Dept.) and with Ted Whiting III from the Boardwalk. The second meeting was with various Mission: Ped members and other activists who had requested a meeting.


The staff of the Coastal Commission believe that the proposed fencing off of where the bike path currently goes would "preclude future opportunities to provide one-way bike and ped paths on both sides of the Union Pacific RR . . . ." The Coastal Commission staff report is attached.


There have been no public hearings at City Council or at the Transportation Commission so far as I know regarding this re-routing of both ped and bike routes and of permanently closing public access to the beach along Walkway 6 through the Boardwalk.


Since the city is strapped for money, the Public Works staff would like to "trade" the public access to the beach at Walkway 6 and additional fencing of 2300 sq. ft. of land in exchange for Boardwalk funding of most of the costs of the proposed new bike ramp. Ted Whiting told me the Seaside Company would not fund the new bike/ped ramp if they don't get the land they want and the fencing approved.


The land in question is part of the disputed tidelands over which the Seaside Company is currently suing the city. It also appears that this disputed property is controlled by the state and not the city's to trade away.


The proposed new bike/ped ramp would exit from the west side of the trestle bridge and ultimately take a hairpin turn and end pretty much where the existing ramp ends above the parking lot near the levee junction. This proposed ramp would be 8' wide and would be shared by both bikes and peds.


Peds coming across the bridge would have to walk a lot farther than at present. They could not access the train or boardwalk directly along the RR tracks as they do now, but would have to double back. With Walkway 6 closed when the boardwalk is closed, the ped distance to the beach could be increased as much as a quarter mile. Beach access could still occur for much of the year directly under the trestle bridge, however this route would be more difficult for those with strollers. Access along the river is also blocked by water at times during the winter.


It is less than optimal for bikes and peds to share an 8' wide ramp (The new ramp would be ADA compliant.). When building new, it seems better to separate bikes and peds. There is a lot of bike and ped traffic on this route.


Walkway 6 is the shortest route for boardwalk patrons to get to the Boardwalk parking lot. During my meetings, I saw three people hop the illegal 8' fence (2 men, 1 woman). Also many others approached the gate to exit and turned away because it was locked. Although the Boardwalk is proposing to open this gate during operating hours, it was fenced 4 years ago without a permit and remains fenced.


Why hasn't the city had a public hearing on this complicated issue? Would the trade be made and one day all the hundreds of people who use the trestle bridge suddenly find out they must walk further?


Since this route is my main bike route to Live Oak, I agree that we need a better connection between the trestle bridge and the Beach Street bikeway. I do not know if sources of funding other than the Seaside Company have been explored. I am not particularly happy from a pedestrian standpoint with the proposed design and continued sharing of the ramp by bikes and peds. And I certainly don't want to see this trade stand in the way of future bike and ped access on the rail trail. And finally, is the additional 2300 sq ft the city's to give away?


Debbie
From: Debbie Bulger
To: dfbulger (at) cruzio.com
Subject: Ped access at Boardwalk/Trestle Bridge
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2005 12:48:14 -0700 (15:48 EDT)

Dear All,

Here is what I have found out about the proposed closing of the ped access at the Boardwalk and re-routing of the bike exit/approach to the bridge on the west:

The item has been pulled from the August 10 meeting of the Coastal Commission at the request of the Seaside Company. It is likely to be rescheduled for October.

On Friday, July 29 I met twice with people at the site to learn more about the proposed project: One meeting was with Chris Schneiter, Cheryl Schmitt (both from the city PW Dept.) and with Ted Whiting III from the Boardwalk. The second meeting was with various Mission: Ped members and other activists who had requested a meeting.

The staff of the Coastal Commission believe that the proposed fencing off of where the bike path currently goes would "preclude future opportunities to provide one-way bike and ped paths on both sides of the Union Pacific RR . . . ." The Coastal Commission staff report is attached.

There have been no public hearings at City Council or at the Transportation Commission so far as I know regarding this re-routing of both ped and bike routes and of permanently closing public access to the beach along Walkway 6 through the Boardwalk.

Since the city is strapped for money, the Public Works staff would like to "trade" the public access to the beach at Walkway 6 and additional fencing of 2300 sq. ft. of land in exchange for Boardwalk funding of most of the costs of the proposed new bike ramp. Ted Whiting told me the Seaside Company would not fund the new bike/ped ramp if they don't get the land they want and the fencing approved.

The land in question is part of the disputed tidelands over which the Seaside Company is currently suing the city. It also appears that this disputed property is controlled by the state and not the city's to trade away.

The proposed new bike/ped ramp would exit from the west side of the trestle bridge and ultimately take a hairpin turn and end pretty much where the existing ramp ends above the parking lot near the levee junction. This proposed ramp would be 8' wide and would be shared by both bikes and peds.

Peds coming across the bridge would have to walk a lot farther than at present. They could not access the train or boardwalk directly along the RR tracks as they do now, but would have to double back. With Walkway 6 closed when the boardwalk is closed, the ped distance to the beach could be increased as much as a quarter mile. Beach access could still occur for much of the year directly under the trestle bridge, however this route would be more difficult for those with strollers. Access along the river is also blocked by water at times during the winter.

It is less than optimal for bikes and peds to share an 8' wide ramp (The new ramp would be ADA compliant.). When building new, it seems better to separate bikes and peds. There is a lot of bike and ped traffic on this route.

Walkway 6 is the shortest route for boardwalk patrons to get to the Boardwalk parking lot. During my meetings, I saw three people hop the illegal 8' fence (2 men, 1 woman). Also many others approached the gate to exit and turned away because it was locked. Although the Boardwalk is proposing to open this gate during operating hours, it was fenced 4 years ago without a permit and remains fenced.

Why hasn't the city had a public hearing on this complicated issue? Would the trade be made and one day all the hundreds of people who use the trestle bridge suddenly find out they must walk further?

Since this route is my main bike route to Live Oak, I agree that we need a better connection between the trestle bridge and the Beach Street bikeway. I do not know if sources of funding other than the Seaside Company have been explored. I am not particularly happy from a pedestrian standpoint with the proposed design and continued sharing of the ramp by bikes and peds. And I certainly don't want to see this trade stand in the way of future bike and ped access on the rail trail. And finally, is the additional 2300 sq ft the city's to give away?

Debbie

***

Here is her original message, altering folks to the item on the Coastal Commission agenda:

Subject: ped access route blocked
From: Debbie Bulger
Date: Wed, July 27, 2005 8:30 pm
To: dfbulger (at) cruzio.com

Dear All,

Mission: Pedestrian has received notice from the Coastal Commission of
the following item that is on the agenda for the Coastal
Commission meeting on August 10 in Costa Mesa.

"Permit number: 3-04-075
Applicant: Santa Cruz Seaside Company
Project Description: After-the-fact approval for the closure of a
public access route and to replace fencing installed without the
benefit of a coastal permit with additional perimeter fencing and
public access turnstiles that provide access to the Boardwalk during
operating hours."

In other words, several months ago, the Boardwalk fenced off a public
access route to the beach and mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Now they
are retroactively seeking Coastal Commission approval.

It seems ped paths and bike paths are being put behind locked gates all
over town. What is going on here? Is this connected to the
Seaside Company's lawsuit against the City regarding the tidelands at
the mouth of the San Lorenzo?

Please consider contacting the Coastal Commission to protest this loss
of public access. Letters should be sent to the Coastal
Commission by August 4 at the latest. Do it now before you forget. This
right of way is public access, not property for the exclusive use of
the Boardwalk. The illegal fence should be removed and public access
restored. This makes no sense to me. You still need a ticket to go on
the rides, so what is the problem with a path to the beach? All the
fence does is make it less convenient for pedestrians who come on their
bikes from the levy or across the trestle bridge.

Mark the agenda item (W7b), the application number (3-04-075), your
name and your position (opposed) on the upper right hand corner of the
first page of your letter. Send your comments to Mike Watson, Coastal
Program Analyst,
Central Coast District Office
725 Front Street, Suite 300
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4508
(831) 427-4863
FAX (831) 427-4877.

Debbie

Note: She also forwarded an email from City Staff on this subject, which I unfortunately cannot find in my email archives.
 
 


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Coastal Commission URL

8-2005-w7b.pdf
8-2005-W7b.pdf (88 k)
You can find the Coastal Commission Agenda here:

www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html

I've attached the PDF of their report.
 

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