By Alice Kaufman, Legislative Advocate
North Crestview Park is a 4-acre site reputed to be the highest point in the city of San Carlos, offering stunning views both west to the Santa Cruz Mountains and east to the Bay and the East Bay hills. North Crestview Park is also a local wildlife corridor, located at the juncture between Devonshire Canyon and the vast acreage of the San Francisco Watershed that encompasses the Crystal Springs reservoirs and thousands of acres of open space. Crestview Drive, at the far western edge of San Carlos, forms a barrier between these two open space areas, and North Crestview Park is one of the few open areas where animals can safely get through.
Thanks to the San Carlos City Council and local residents who joined us in speaking up on behalf of this park earlier this year, it will now continue to serve as a wildlife corridor while also offering neighbors a chance to get outside and enjoy the amazing views and the open space on this site.
Soccer fields on a steep hillside?
In February, the city council was presented with several different proposals for the future of North Crestview Park. One proposal – the “passive use” plan – involved minimal construction at the park, with only a walking trail, a couple of benches, and a memorial plaque. The other proposals included much more significant development, ranging from soccer fields to playgrounds to basketball courts, all with a paved road and parking lot. Because North Crestview Park is steeply sloped, any playing fields would have required massive grading and retaining walls. Whatever natural vegetation was not removed to make way for the playing fields would likely have been destroyed during the grading operations, leaving only grass and mulched landscaping (which offer no cover or habitat for wildlife).
Local residents testified movingly at Parks Commission hearings about the great amount and diversity of wildlife to be found at North Crestview Park. Deer, rattlesnakes, hawks, gray foxes, and numerous bird species have all been seen on this site by the neighbors.
Preserving nature and saving money
I met with city councilmembers, wrote letters, and spoke at meetings to advocate for the passive use plan for this park. In the end, it was a combination of environmental and fiscal benefits that saved North Crestview. Due to the challenges of the site, it was far too expensive to turn into soccer fields, and since the local residents clearly valued it as it was, the city council voted for the passive use plan. It was a real win for open space and wildlife habitat in San Carlos!