To: Mr. Steven Scharf, Ms. Liang Chao, Mr. Rod Sinks, Mr. Darcy Paul, Mr. Jon Willey

Cc: Mr. Timm Borden, Mr. David Stillman, Mr. Gerhard Eshelback

Subject: Keep up trails momentum.  Proceed with Regnart Creek Trail.  Build “The Loop” trail network. 

Thanks to the previous City Council’s support, Cupertino has been doing an admirable job of expanding walking and cycling resources for residents and their guests.  As outcomes of the 2016 Bicycling Plan, protected bike lanes are coming on key corridors, and a network of walking/biking trails that would encircle the city are being studied.  This will most certainly make Cupertino safer for cyclists and pedestrians.  We all want to avoid repetitions of people being injured and even killed in collisions with motor vehicles.  I.e., it’s critical that we keep up this momentum

Call to action: Keep an open mind, review the facts (not only the emotional reaction of impacted households), and solicit input from citizens in all parts of Cupertino before deciding your vote.  Ask parents, seniors, students, and residents who want to walk or bike off street whether they support “The Loop”.  You will find this project is supported by, and good for, the great majority of the community.

Regnart Creek Trail is the most advanced of these projects and would form the first of the envisioned trails network.  On August 21, 2018 City Council adopted the feasibility study and approved funding for the design and environmental clearance of the trail.  This was a sensible outcome since the trail will have significant benefits.  They include:

  1. Enabling kids to get to school more safely via an off-street facility versus riding on streets or walking through the City Hall parking lot
  2. Increased ability for residents to reach destinations such as the Farmer’s Market, library, sporting events, community events at the City Center without driving
  3. Reduced traffic due to #1 and #2
  4. Increased exercise/recreation options for Cupertino’s east side (now facing a park and recreation deficit)

But forces are afoot to derail this progress.  On March 20th Vice Mayor Chao attended the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission to indicate her opposition to the trail.  Her arguments parroted those of the vocal homeowners in opposition near the proposed trail. This is extremely disappointing.  Many of the concerns she raised have already been addressed or are in the process of being addressed (see table below). 

Even more importantly, as city council members, you were elected to represent all citizens of Cupertino, not a small, vocal minority.  You should be aware that research consistently shows 80% of Cupertino residents favor new trails*.  That is a huge number and is representative of Cupertino residents as a whole.  Since emotions are running high it’s even important that you examine the facts and solicit the depth and breadth of points of view. 

The primary concerns and analysis are shown in the table below. 

Concern Reality/Supporting Evidence
Privacy This concern can be alleviated with fencing, shrubbery and/or other privacy additions.   City staff are attempting to work with property owners to determine such mitigation.  But it takes two to tango—most are refusing to even have a conversation about what fences or walls they’d like.  If they truly were concerned about privacy, they’d engage and specify what they need.  Since many homeowners currently have gates opening onto the trail is “privacy” in fact the desire to continue using public property for personal use?
Security Captain Urena of the Sheriff’s department has stated no crime issues have been seen in other city sectors with trails such as Blackberry Farms, Orogrande, and Creekside Park.  Furthermore, no other trail in the Valley abutting houses has security issues.  My personal experience is also informative.  My house backs up to the UPRR tracks, a de facto trail.   In fact, the trail enhances security because at least 100X more eyeballs are monitoring activity adjacent to my house in contrast to isolated tract homes. 
Inadequate Trail Width The trail width meets minimums defined by Caltrans.  Furthermore, it would be consistent with other existing nearby trails such as Saratoga Creek Trail and San Tomas Aquino Trail.  (See included photos for reference)
Kids will fall in the creek Both the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail and Los Gatos Creek Trail both parallel active creeks.  These trails are used daily by hundreds of walkers and cyclists without incident. 
Build Regnart  after the network This argument is purely an attempt run out the clock since a network cannot exist without the individual segments being built.  Hence, we should start with Regnart Creek since it is the furthest along. (What’s to stop this argument from being applied to the Junipero Serra segment and each subsequent trail?)

Thank you for your consideration,

Pete Heller, Bicycle Pedestrian Commissioner and 30 year resident

Pete Heller

*Source: Parks and Recs master plan, 2019

Trail Relevant Characteristics Image
Saratoga Creek Trail Averages 8.5’ wideNarrows to 6’ in select locationsMultiple houses back up to trailRuns alongside creek
San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail 8-10’ wideRuns alongside creek with significant embankmentsNo railingsAccommodates hundreds of users each weekday