Acknowledging both sides of the Stanford trails debate

Copied below is a letter that the Committee for Green Foothills sent to the Palo Alto Weekly. The link to the online Weekly letter is here, and this was sent in response to a letter from Stanford University printed here.


Examining evidence

The community groups opposing the expansion of the Alpine Road sidewalk do not act like Stanford and ignore the evidence supporting the other side’s position; we acknowledge it.

A single checkmark in one table of the 1995 Trails Master Plan indicates the relevant part of the C-1 Trail was “completed,” and this is Stanford’s entire argument (Weekly letter from Jean McCown, Dec. 16).

By contrast, the Trails Map created for the Master Plan does not show the C-1 Trail as complete, but it does show the trail in Santa Clara County (therefore not the Alpine Road sidewalk), and shows the trail as not being alongside a road. The Map conflicts with the checkmark — one of them is wrong.

Because the 1995 Map was changed from the earlier 1982 Trails Master Plan and even from a 1994 draft version, the best conclusion is that in 1995 the county expressly rejected the Alpine Road sidewalk as the C-1 Trail, but failed to remove a single checkmark in one table.

Stanford is well aware of the 1995 Map and chose not to mention it in its Dec. 16 letter. Readers should remember this when reading Stanford’s justifications of its environmental policies.

As for Santa Clara County, the decision to give up a real C-1 Trail and expand a sidewalk instead indicates that ignoring the public interest is less politically painful than holding a powerful university to its promises. The county might even be right — it’s up to the community to determine whether this action is acceptable.

Brian Schmidt, Committee for Green Foothills
East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto

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