- Who is asking for these fences/walls
- If the fences/walls are necessary
- How much it will cost
- What kind of fences/walls is the city paying for
- What is the cost impact
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. 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 or crime 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.
As of September 2020, 35% of the residents near the RCT have requested a new wood fence, 10% have requested a precast concrete fence, 8% have requested wood fence with insulator, 15% have requested a vinyl fence, 7% have requested not to change their current fence (note: if they do this, they can keep their gate to the trail), and 15% have not responded to the City Staff on their preference. This is after more than two years of asking residents what type of fence they would prefer, including 1:1 meetings at each resident's home by the City Staff. It looks likely that the fences that back to the trail will be a hodge-podge of different types and appearances.
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.
Neighbors who are being offered a free new fence by the city can opt not to change from their existing one; it is an optional gift. If they keep their current fence, they can also keep their current gate to the trail.
If the residents wish to keep their current gates onto the trail, which a large percentage of the residents along La Mar currently have in place and are in use today, 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 information is below.
Should neighbors 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.
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.