The Stevens Creek Trail has become a touchy subject among many South Los Altos property owners.
A 2008 feasibility study determined that the best route for continuing the trail from Mountain View was via Fremont Avenue to Grant Road and Foothill Expressway. Somehow this has morphed into a possible route down Fallen Leaf Lane. It sounds innocent until you discover that one of the city’s options is to use the easement (approximately 9 feet) for sidewalks and bike lanes from each side of the street.
The city easement contains tall oak, redwood and pine trees that were planted decades ago. Rose bushes, flowers, irrigation and more have been lovingly maintained and improved to enhance the rural look of the neighborhood. Can you imagine your easement turned into a sidewalk?
Sidewalks? Whoa there, city officials! The founders of Los Altos wanted to keep the rural feel of the town. Mind you, when my family moved into our current home on Fallen Leaf Lane in January 1960, there was an orchard across the street, Fremont had no median, there was a railroad track where Foothill Expressway is and we rode cardboard sleds on the summer oat grass down the hill from the top of Arboretum Driven to the bottom, where Interstate 280 is now.
Fast forward to the meeting at Grant Park June 18. I stopped to ask an elderly couple if they needed help with their walkers. “No, thank you, we can manage. We had to come – how could the city do this?” was their reply. These are stewards of yesteryear and their successors, the young families with the same mindset that were drawn to this neighborhood because it is not a cookie-cutter master plan of tract homes, sidewalks and bright streetlights.
At the meeting, Los Altos City Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said the proposed 60-foot widening for sidewalks and bike lanes on Fallen Leaf Lane was no longer under consideration. However, green-painted bike lanes, narrowed intersections with sidewalks and plantings and other designs are still under consideration – just to accommodate thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who would potentially use the trail.
I spoke with a Sunnyvale resident after the meeting and asked what Sunnyvale residents thought of the trail. After several promptings, he admitted that even though they have sidewalks, they don’t want bike lanes or the loss of street parking.
From the proposal for a roundabout at Fallen Leaf Lane and Fremont Avenue to the Stevens Creek Trail, the city’s lack of timely communication with residents begs the questions: What has happened to the Los Altos we fell in love with? Doesn’t our beleaguered neighborhood deserve a break?
Bonnie Osborne is a Fallen Leaf Lane resident.