What kind of fences are the neighbors adjacent asking for? Why is the city spending $765,000 for these fences?
Neighbors who have properties both adjacent to the trail and 40 feet across the creek (not adjacent) have asked the City Council for new fencing and received $765,000 in taxpayer funding to build them. The stated reason is to mitigate noise from passing walkers/cyclists and because of fears of crime. There is no indication that there will be any noise issues, based on the following: independent environmental noise studies on the Regnart Trail by the City of Cupertino; statements made by the Santa Clara County Sheriff about this and other trails in their jurisdiction; and studies on other trails in Cupertino, locally, statewide and nationally (for more information, see below, "Will this trail be disruptive to the neighbors who adjoin it?" and "Should we be concerned about crime on the trail?").
Nevertheless, to ease concerns, the Cupertino City Council has allocated $765,000 in new fencing for these residents. This is an unprecedented decision: for no other public works project in Cupertino has there been money allocated for fencing on private land, as can be easily seen by the many homes in Cupertino that currently back to trails, whether in parks, at schools, or named trails such as the Saratoga Creek Trail.
The City set a deadline of August 7 for all residents to submit their preference for the type of fence they desired. This is after more than two years of asking residents what type of fence they would prefer, including hundreds of hours of 1:1 meetings at each resident's home by the City Staff and personal Zoom meetings. The fences that back to the trail will be a hodge-podge of different types and appearances. A chart below lists what types and how many houses have chosen each of the different types of fencing. (The other 11 homes did not state any preference or wish to keep their current fencing.
City Council at the September 2019 vote meeting recognized that the adjacent neighbors and those living across the creek are concerned about privacy. In September of 2019, they added $150,000 extra to the budget for this project that is earmarked for fences, shrubbery, etc. for these residents. Each home will be able to apply to the City for a share of the money for use towards mitigation. In May 2020, the City Council added $400,000 more on top of the $150,000 and the new fencing that is part of the project to add noise abating fences into the budget for this project for a total of $765,000.
It should also be noted that anyone living adjacent/near the trail does not need to change their current fencing--it is an optional gift from the city. If the residents wish to keep their current gates onto the trail, which a large percentage of the residents along La Mar have, they may do so if they keep their current fencing. Eleven of these neighbor will keep their current fences, whether by stating they did not want a fence change or declining to participate in any of the two years of outreach to obtain the fencing selections.
The City Council on November 17, 2020 declined to increase the amount to be spent from city funds on private fencing/walls for residents adjacent to and across the trail from the $765,000 currently budgeted. The neighbors at that time were requesting $154,000 more to cover fully the cost of concrete walls for the neighbors that chose them. The total that was being asked for was approximately $28,000 per home in city taxpayer funds. A chart of this cost information can be found here.
Will this trail be disruptive to the neighbors who adjoin it?
Everyone’s needs are different, but there are plenty of trails that have houses immediately adjacent even closeby, including Creekside Park, Wilson Park and Eaton Elementary paths, and homes along other trails such as Saratoga Creek and San Tomas. These trails have not been shown to be disruptive to adjacent residents. These trail situations are similar, in some cases identical, to the neighbors living along La Mar Drive and the two neighboring houses across Blaney.
Residents living on Farralone will continue to be across the creek from any pedestrians so it is unlikely to have any impact on their homes. As the current Water District maintenance road (on which the trail will be built) is also directly next to the library parking lot, any noise from the trail would be dwarfed by the noise from users of that parking lot. The environmental study confirmed this.
Lozano Lane (next to DePalma Lane) is currently on a bicycle and pedestrian trail, which was made at the same time that those homes were built. As this would continue to be the same kind of trail, there will be higher numbers of trail users, but that would be the only change to noise. The trail would be 20 feet or more from their front doors, the same offset at many homes today in Cupertino to their front sidewalks.
A side note is that many neighbors living on La Mar currently enjoy gates in their fences that allow them passage into this space for personal use. Though enjoyable to them, this trail deserves to be available to all residents and not a select few. The environmental study also confirmed that these residents would not expect a higher level of noise than they currently experience today.
City Council at their vote meeting recognized that the adjacent neighbors and those living across the creek are concerned about privacy. In September of 2019, they added $150,000 extra to the budget for this project that is earmarked for fences, shrubbery, etc. for these residents. Each home will be able to apply to the City for a share of the money for use towards mitigation. In May 2020, the City Council added $400,000 more on top of the $150,000 and the new fencing that is part of the project to add noise abating fences into the budget for this project. Fourteen of the neighbors living along La Mar have now requested that the full cost of a concrete wall for each home--$24,000 per lot--be passed along to the city, totalling $672,000 to $1.0 million, though the confirmed independent eenvironmental study states there will be no increased noise issues. It is quite possible that the cost of this "mitigation" may exceed the cost of the actual trail if the Council decides to continue adding costs to the project for these demands.
Should I be concerned about crime on the trail?
If you feel comfortable walking in your neighborhood now, you will feel comfortable on the Regnart Trail. Similar trails in Cupertino (including the Saratoga Creek Trail, only 1 mile away) and studies across California and the US show no increased crime, with some areas showing decreased crime. The opinion of Captain Rich Urena, the West Valley Division Head for the Santa Clara County Sheriff Department, is that “ [The Regnart Trail] is a safe place to walk, a safe place to have a trail.”
In addition, to ease fears, The Santa Clara County Sheriff will be doing bike patrols along the trail at peak commute times. They have discussed their plans and have shown one of the patrol bikes at a City Council meeting in August 2019.
Why can't we just use the current city streets?
Local streets are just not as safe as a trail. Blaney Avenue is a 30mph road that has over 8,000 vehicles use it every day. According to US Department of Transportation, at 30 mph there is a 40% chance of death or serious injury to a pedestrian or cyclist hit by a car. Though having white marked bike lanes, with its higher speed and potential for conflicts with the large amount of traffic, it is much less safe for cyclists than a trail would be.
Rodrigues is also a curving 30mph road, with much traffic from the library and civic center. As it is a higher speed road, cars present more danger to cyclists, especially as those on bikes must make an unprotected left into the Civic Center parking lot if visiting the library.
La Mar Drive is a 25mph wide residential road and a long, straight stretch connecting Blaney to E. Estates. The residents living along that street asked for a permanent speed-monitoring sign to be installed heading both east and west due to the high number of speeding cars. The same devices have been installed on Pacifica. These speed monitoring devices have been installed very recently, in the past two years. At the speed limit of 25mph, the chance of injury or death for a pedestrian or cyclist is 25%. Cars that exceed the speed limit by only 5 mph increases those risks to 40%. Due to these speeding cars, La Mar and Pacifica, though residential, are not very safe roads for cyclists. A trail without conflicts with cars would be much safer.
Will the trail affect housing values?
According to an intensive study by Headwaters Economics, "Trails, like good schools or low crime, create an amenity that commands a higher price for nearby homes. Trails are valued by those who live nearby as places to recreate, convenient opportunities for physical activity and improving health, and safe corridors for walking or cycling to work or school."
This has been shown in studies across the United States, including Texas, Delaware, Indiana, Washington and many other places. Premiums for homes near or with direct access to a trail varied by locale, but ranged from 2% to 20%. For more information, see this link: http://bit.ly/trailsandhomepremiums.
Where can I get on or off the trail?
There are multiple entrances to the trail, so that it is convenient for residents going to different locations. There will be entrances at the following locations: across from the Creekside Park exit on E. Estates (a raised crossing with flashing lights); an entrance from Wilson Park across a pedestrian bridge; entrances at either side of Blaney Avenue between Lar Mar Drive and De Palma Lane (with a pedestrian refuge island and flashing lights in the crossing); a pedestrian entrance off Lozano Lane (Lozano Lane is the tiny street off DePalma Court); an entrance at Rodrigues just before the City Hall parking lot; an entrance from the Library parking lot (directly across from the sidewalk with the bike racks); an entrance at Pacifica at the SE corner of the library field; and the trail will also be completely open along the south end of the library field to Torre. The map on the home page of this site shows these entrances.
I don’t have kids or they are not living with me. Why do I need this trail?
According to the 2018 Parks & Recreation Study, 80% of Cupertino residents want more trails and paths. This trail will enhance recreational possibilities for residents of all ages. Those with limited mobility will enjoy a flat walking space free of sloped driveways and lumpy sidewalks; and neighbors can enjoy safely and easily walking to neighborhood events in our parks, at the library or community hall, or the weekly Friday Farmer’s Market. The trail itself will be almost a mile of off-street space for running and walking. Combined with the Creekside Park trail or with the walking paths in Wilson Park, there are many more opportunities to get healthy exercise near many residents' homes.
Why would my children and I use this trail?
Besides using it to commute to school by walking or riding a bike (see below, "Why will this trail be useful for students?"), it also has some other benefits. For example, it can be difficult to find a space to teach a child or for an adult to learn to ride a bike: a flat straight stretch, free of cars or other obstructions, is usually needed. Many people learn in parking lots, but with the increase in traffic, it can be hard to find one that has the space. The trail will be able to provide room to do this, and close by many residents' homes.
The trail could also be used to walk or bike to children's sports activities, such as Little League or Soccer, frequently held at Wilson Park, or cricket, which is frequently played at the library fields. Parents and their children could get healthy exercise while walking to the library for books or enjoying their programs. Adults with children in strollers would enjoy a flat, direct path between parks and the City Center for walking. All these activities could be enjoyed without worrying about a child darting into traffic from the sidewalk or falling near where cars are moving.
Why is this trail useful? It's not very long.
Quite simply, it will be a great connector for the east side of Cupertino. The Regnart Trail will be just under 1 mile and would connect three city parks: Creekside Park, Wilson Park, and the field at the library. Cupertino is lucky to have local events happening in these parks frequently: the Friday Farmer's Market at Creekside Park, Community Events such as movies and tournaments in Wilson Park and Creekside Park, Festivals such as Earth Day at the Civic Center, and much more. Having a trail that connects residents easily to these parks and their events is a real benefit.
The trail will also be almost a mile of off-street space for running and walking. Combined with the Creekside Park trail or with the walking paths in Wilson Park, there are many more opportunities to get healthy exercise close to many residents' homes.
As the Regnart Trail will connect to the Creekside Park Trail (which ends only 800ft from Cupertino High School), the trail will also make a much easier link for walking and biking to Main Street shops and restaurants.
Would students use this trail? How many?
Safe Routes to School surveys show that the top reason that parents do not allow their children to walk or bike to school is fear for their safety. A trail free from cars would ease those fears.
250 Eaton students would be able to use the trail each day to commute to school. Currently, many students also use the Library parking lot each morning and afternoon as a walking shortcut to the other side of the Library field (The alternative is to walk around on the sidewalk on Torre, which adds 0.2 miles.) The Regnart Trail will be a new path that will parallel this shortcut from Rodrigues to Pacifica, but does not have any unsafe issues with vehicles driving or parking. Afterschool, students will also be able to go to the library along the trail and then cross directly to the sidewalk in front of the library instead of going through the parking lot.
250 Cupertino High students would be able to use the trail each day to commute to school. As the enrollment area for Cupertino High extends to De Anza, many students in the Civic Center area currently biking to school on current streets less safely than desired and other students have chosen not to bike or walk but could.
100 Lawson students could use the trail for commuting, including avoiding the congested Civic Center area in the mornings.
I've heard that the new trail crossings at Blaney will be "dangerous". Is this true?
No. The new trail crossings are better than what is currently on our city streets.
The proposed crossing at Blaney for the Regnart trail would have several advantages over the current crossings at Rodrigues and Suisun: it will have a push-flasher system so cars can see pedestrians and cyclists easier and stop, knowing there is a pedestrian or cyclist coming; it will cross straight across (not offset, with reduced visibility, like Rodrigues or Suisun) so pedestrians can see cars better and vice versa; and include a center refuge island, so that pedestrians are not vulnerable for the entire width while crossing the road. All of these items will make an improved crossing at Blaney for both bikes and pedestrians compared to the current intersections at Rodrigues and Suisun.
For E. Estates, the proposed crossing will be safer than the current options: it will include a raised, marked crosswalk with push-button flashers so that cars know that a bike or pedestrian is crossing; it includes mid-block bulb-outs (only as wide as parking is currently, they will not impede traffic flow or narrow the lanes) so that pedestrians can be seen and see cars better and also so that the crossing is narrower for pedestrians; and will be a straight, non-offset, intersection.
Will the trail be wide enough?
The Regnart Trail will be as wide or wider than other local trails, including the Saratoga Creek Trail and the San Tomas Trail. In most locations this is 10 feet wide plus two foot shoulders, easily wide enough for bikes and pedestrians to pass one another safely. The CalTrans trail standards say the width should be 8 feet wide, with shoulders, which occurs in some locations on the trail, but all locations are within the CalTrans standard. There are many competing guidelines (not standards) cited by those opposing the trail, but due to conditions on a trail at specific points, no local trail (including the Saratoga Creek Trail, which is within the Cupertino city limits) meets them along the entire length. This does not mean these trails have safety issues; they are used each day by local residents comfortably. The Regnart Trail will be no exception to this.
Can someone fall into the creek from the trail?
The trail will be 8-10 feet wide with shoulders, so falling in is not likely. Though many other similar trails in San Jose such as the Guadalupe and San Tomas Trails do not have railings and have not seen issues with falling or injuries, the Regnart Trail will be built with railings along the portions of the trail where there is not an extended width to the trail. These railings will not be removable.
Are trees planned to be cut down at the library field?
There are no plans to cut down any trees, including the portion of the trail that extends along the south side of the library field. The city has an arborist who confirmed the current trees will stay healthy during and after any construction work on the trail.
Will the creek be harmed by building this trail?
The creek will be unaffected by building a trail, as it is currently a concrete storm water run basin. The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) will continue maintaining the creek to prevent blockages that cause high water.
Will it be dangerous when there are heavy rains and the creek is filled?
Maintaining a free flow of water, which the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) does, means that this storm water drainage creek will continue to run much lower than its banks. If something unusual should occur and the water gets close the the banks, the trail will be closed at the direction of the SCVWD or Cupertino Public Works. The SCVWD closes other trails already today in Santa Clara County when there are any issues.
Will this trail harm local wildlife or plants adjacent to the trail?
The city environmental study which is part of the design confirmed that there are little to no issues environmentally with the building of the trail. (It's not a surprise, as there are heavy trucks from Valley Water which go along the maintenance road today where the trail will be.) The study included a noise study, which showed that noise levels by neighbors would be no higher than experienced today without the trail. This study was approved by the city Environmental Review Committee, the Planning Commission, and the City Council, all with unanimous votes. As the trail will be a groomed, maintained pathway, small scrub bushes and weeds may be eliminated along the pathway, though an appropriate natural look is desired.
Will there be issues on the trail with graffiti or littering?
With the trail, the area will be enhanced with landscaping, so it is less likely to attract litter and refuse than today. Refuse containers will be available at appropriate intervals to encourage tidy use of the trail. Graffiti will probably still occur in our neighborhoods as it does now. Having more residents to watch for this sort of activity, such as on a well-traveled path between destinations, can help prevent this. Studies in California and nationwide on other suburban trails show this to be true.
Will there be problems with homeless encampments on the trail?
Homeless encampments tend to occur in locations that are out-of-the way and where homeless persons will not be disturbed, not in places where there is heavy foot traffic from residents, such as on a trail. Furthermore, any encampments are illegal in Cupertino. These issues will be handled by the Santa Clara County Sheriff, who is responsible for code enforcement in Cupertino. Anyone noticing an issue will be able to call them to rectify the situation. Other homeless encampments seen around the Bay Area tend to be in locations out of the jurisdiction of local cities, such as on CalTrans right-of-ways.
Due to requirements of shelter-in-place, there have been a recent homeless encampment in Cupertino on Wolfe Rd. which has been allowed to remain undisturbed. This is solely due to recommendations from the Santa Clara County Health Department during this temporary time where safely distanced accommodation for unhoused persons is not available. This is not what will occur in Cupertino once the pandemic time has passed.
Why can't walkers and cyclists just use Wilson Park as a route to the library instead of building this trail?
Wilson Park is currently a preferred pass-through for those going to the library, but because it still requires traveling on 30mph streets, streets with heavy speeding, and crossing at offset intersections, it does not solve all the safety issues.
It has other issues, too. Wilson Park has enjoyable walking paths which can be as narrow as three to five feet wide. When used by cyclists or by groups of pedestrians, these can be too narrow for comfortable passing, especially when considering safe distancing requirements.
The main pathway through the park also goes between the baseball fields and the soccer field; especially when Little League games are played, the large numbers of spectators and children using these fields on the weekends means that it can be difficult to navigate on bike through the crowds. Finally, the walking and biking paths through the park end at a parking lot, requiring pedestrians and cyclists to cross Rodrigues or this parking lot with cars driving in that space as well. A trail would make it easier and safer for residents to get to (or pass by) Wilson Park without having to conflict with cars or with the sports facilities.
Why bother adding just a small improvement to the center of Cupertino?
Trails are greatly desired by Cupertino residents. The 2018 Parks and Recreation Survey showed that 80% of residents desire more trails and paths. The Regnart Trail would be one of these trails, allowing increased recreation for our residents, improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and would encourage residents to bike or walk to destinations which would improve traffic and parking demand.
The number of Cupertino residents that live within ¼ mile of this trail and could use it for enjoyment and improved safety number over 8,000. Many more residents living or working just a few blocks away, of course, would also use and enjoy it. Having a recreational trail close to home allows those residents who walk or jog, or may not yet be ready for a very long bike ride (or can’t anymore, or can’t get there) enjoy recreation right in their neighborhood. A trail like Regnart Creek Trail is a walking path for young families, seniors, and other residents in addition to being a bike trail.
Though on its own it has many benefits, the Regnart Trail won't be a stand-alone improvement. This trail is a vital link connecting many pathways across the City of Cupertino, and is part of "The Loop" network of bike trails planned for the city. These other connections are Class IV Bike lanes on McClellan (and ultimately to Pacifica); the Creekside Park Trail; Bike Boulevards across the city on low-speed resident roads with traffic-calming measures; and other trails such as the Junipero Serra Trail running along the south side of I-280.
Is there support for this trail from the residents that live in the neighborhood?
Over 1650 neighbors have signed the petition to build the Regnart Trail, and they are greatly enthusiastic about this project going forward. They think it will encourage healthy living, reducing traffic, and more. Some comments were, “This trail would be awesome to run or walk my dog,” “A more walkable and bikeable Cupertino is the key to relieving local traffic congestion,” and “[This trail] may encourage more timid folks to try bike riding and others to choose walking instead of taking a car.”
Most pro-trail petition signers are in the Wilson Park and City Center area, with some abutting the trail, and with many more on the adjacent streets. These supporters are very enthusiastic about the trail. Some comments were, “As a pedestrian, I have wished for this access for years”, “Creating safe bike routes to schools and parks is critical to the safety of our kids”, and “Can’t wait!”. The majority of the Wilson Park and City Center signers are parents of school children, from young elementary students up to high school. As one Cupertino High parent stated, “This is great plan. If there was a safe bike [path] to school, I don’t have to drive every morning in the crazy traffic jam near the school to drop them off.” An Eaton Elementary parent stated, “My kids and I would use this to walk to school. I think it's a great idea!” Most comments focused on safety for children, such as, “I support the trail as my kids bike to school. Biking on La Mar is dangerous.“ and “Keeping our kids safe is an utmost priority.”
Do schools or other organizations think this trail is a good idea?
The trail has been endorsed by a number of local PTA organizations, including the Lawson PTA, Eaton Elementary PTO, Sedgwick PTA, and Hyde PTSA. Many school board members for Cupertino Union School District and Fremont Union High School District signed the petition last year to support the building of the trail.
Other organizations also support building the trail, including Cupertino Safe Routes to School, Teen Commission, Cupertino High Cycling Club, and Walk-Bike Cupertino, who sponsored the petition drive. It's supported by former mayors and prominent residents of Cupertino, including the current Cupertino Rotary Club President. Local cycling clubs have endorsed the trail, including Western Wheelers, Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, and the Almaden Cycling and Touring Club. Local businesses also support building this trail, including the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce.
How can this trail help with making Cupertino more "green"?
Building a trail will encourage alternative transportation, by making it safer and easier to use it. As the Regnart Trail also connects destinations such as parks and the Civic Center that are attractive to residents, it would be especially useful in this regard. Fewer cars on the road means less pollution. Every time that someone walks or uses a bike instead of using a car, it is helpful for the environment. And yes, even with the electric cars, there is battery usage, so a bike or walking is still better.
Is this going to help traffic?
Traffic is Cupertino is increasing, especially during school commute times. Allowing more children to bike safely to school would reduce the number of parents' cars driving them to school. This would reduce traffic around the schools, and improve safety there as well. Traffic volumes decrease when school is out, because parents are not driving their children to school. Allowing children to more safely commute to school by bike or walking would decrease the number of cars on the road in total, improving traffic for everyone.
Also, parking at the City Center has become very difficult between 10am and 6 pm or when there are events. The Regnart Trail, which connects directly with the Library Parking lot, would allow more people to use alternate transportation, increasing the number of open spaces available. A city parking study in July 2020 determined that the Regnart Creek Trail would mitigate current and future parking issues at the City Center. See more information here on that study.
How do we know what will be the benefits or drawbacks for this trail?
The best way to do this is to make a good comparison with current trails in use that have already been built.
The Saratoga Creek Trail is very similar to the Regnart Creek Trail: the portion in Cupertino is about a mile long, it is located only a mile away, it is against a creek, is in a residential neighborhood, it is policed by the Santa Clara County Sheriff, and has houses that are directly adjacent to it with only standard wooden fences between the trail and the backyard of homes (and those backyards are much shallower, so the distance to the homes is much less). It has not seen any issues with crime, homeless encampments, dangerous animals, disruptive trail users, noise, or other issues that have been raised by those opposing the Regnart Trail. It's currently being used by many residents for recreational exercise.
Other trails in Cupertino have also not seen problematic issues with their use, including the trail connector at Scenic Circle, the Creekside Park path, the more rural Stevens Creek Trail, or any of the paths used everyday in our current neighborhood parks. Other local trails such as the San Tomas trail are used frequently by their residents for exercise and enjoyment.
All of these trails will be excellent examples of what can be expected when the Regnart Trail is built. The experiences on these trails form the basis for the answers to many concerns that residents have about building a new trail in their neighborhood.
I've heard that the City Staff have not done public outreach to the local residents. Is this true?
Four public meetings were held prior to the Feasibility Study City council vote to solicit both oral and written feedback from residents, including one held while walking the trail and a focused meeting with the Lozano Lane residents. Just since the approval of the study in August 2018, an additional public outreach meeting was held in December 2018, and another community Walkshop was held on March 30, 2019 to allow residents to walk the trail and comment. Another public meeting as a followup to the Walkshop was held on April 24 at the Community Hall. This project has had an enormous amount of public input and feedback, much more than would be expected for this size of project.
At all times during the planning process, residents have discussed their concerns in one-on-one discussions with City Staff, at (public) Bicycle-Pedestrian Commission Meetings, in independent conversations and at Oral Communications at City Council. The Trail Concepts and the Feasibility Study include this feedback. During March and April of 2019, over a hundred hours of one-on-one individual meetings with each neighbor adjacent to the trail and City Staff were held which will influenced design direction.
Residents opposing the trail met with each Councilmember individually; exchanged many long email conversations with staff to clarify issues, question the project (including its necessity) and its parameters and had individual meetings with City Staff to review drawings as the vote drew closer in September 2019. After the vote, opposing residents continued with the same emails and meetings with staff, but more focused on fencing, desire for yet still more additional funding for fencing (which was granted by the Council in May 2020 for a total of an extra $550,000 plus standard fencing costs), and environmental issues. Of course, during all points in the process they spoke at many City Council meetings to the Council, spoke at the Environmental Review Committee and Planning Commission meeting review (May 2020), spoke to our Water District (Valley Water) board member, and others. Through the summer of 2020, residents have continued with personal meetings with Councilmember Jon Willey and with staff, with a focus on getting more money from the city for concrete walls--their request is now $24,000 per home, for a total of $1.5 -2 million dollars additional project cost for specialty concrete walls in addition to the costs of standard fencing.
Again, this is an enormous amount of public input and feedback, much, much more than would be expected for this size of project.
Does the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) support this trail?
The SCVWD, or Valley Water, has as one of their priorities to support creekside paths (Priority D3). They have have been working closely with the Cupertino city staff to resolve their access and maintenance needs. Ultimately, the city and Valley Water will create a Joint Use Agreement together for how the trail will be used and maintained. As there can be civil engineering issues that are specific to a particular locations along the mile-long trail, this is a process and requires a series of meetings to make sure that everyone's needs are met. This process is ongoing, but will be finished when the completed design is finished, which is expected late in summer 2019.
Also worth noting is that Valley Water is greatly in support of trails along creekbeds and even fund grants to encourage them. They have as “Priority D” to restore wildlife habit and provide open space. The grant program (D3) states, “The purpose of the grant is to provide new access to trails and open space, “ and on their informational page, “[the] project also funds work that provides access to creekside trails…” In all ways, the Valley Water is a partner on this project. In June 2019, Valley Water had as an agenda item to decide whether to start studying standards for trails that are on their property. At that meeting, their committment to creekside trails was reaffirmed.
Since the City Council vote meeting in September 2019, Valley Water has worked closely with the Cupertino City Staff on a land swap agreement, whereby the trail would only need one crossing to Wilson Park and the trail would be a straight pathway along the current maintenance road instead of routing to Wilson Park and back again. This is benefical to both Cupertino (for the straight trail, with one fewer bridge), and for Valley Water, as it allows them to move their maintenance access ramp near the parking lot off Hall Ct. to allow easier access for their trucks. These changes are part of the design and will be brought forward for final approval before construction in October 2020.
How much is this trail going to cost?
The trail design option "D" was approved by City Council at the Tuesday, September 17, 2019 meeting. This option cost is $2.1 million, plus $150,000 for extra mitigation for neighbors living adjacent and across the creek. The total cost of the trail itself (not the fencing) may be offset by grants received by the city, including "Measure B" funds and other local grants.
In May of 2020, the Council approved a further $400,000 in extra mitigation for neighbors living adjacent to the trail, for a total of $2.65 million in total project costs ($750,000 for new fencing). Neighbors living adjacent have now asked for $1-2 million more for specialty concrete walls, which, if the City Council agrees, would mean the project could be as high as $4.65 million, with the majority of that paid to residents along the trail and not for the trail itself.
It is important to note that these "mitigation" funding requests from homeowners along the Regnart Trail are unprecedented for any trail in Cupertino or nearby trails.
Does this fit with other plans for Cupertino, such as the recent Parks & Recreation Plan?
According to the 2018 Parks & Recreation Study, 80% of Cupertino residents want more trails and paths. The Parks & Recreation Master Plan not only states that residents want these, but also how trails such as the Regnart Trail are integrated fully into plans for Cupertino Parks and directly cites the 2016 Bicycle Transportation Plan and the 2018 Pedestrian Transportation Plan. The Regnart Trail is a key link in their plans.
In addition, Public Safety plans include keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe from vehicles, and preventing crashes. Adding a trail that is off-street and away from these conflicts improves public safety for everyone.