Tag Archives: bicycle paths

New Oakmont bike-pedestrian trail may solve long-simmering access dispute

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A new path nearing completion in Oakmont will soon link the retirement community in east Santa Rosa to Trione-Annadel State Park, and in the process may help solve a long-simmering access dispute.

The 400-foot-long gravel trail is designed to allow bicycle riders and pedestrians to skirt a piece of private property over which the city once held an easement frequently used by the public.

The new path runs parallel to that driveway, links up with city property once used as a wastewater treatment plant and creates a continuous link between Stone Bridge Drive and Channel Drive on the northern side of Annadel.

“We’ve totally bypassed the private property with this path,” said Ken Wells, executive director of the Sonoma Trails Council, which is building the trail with 36 yards of gravel and a lot of volunteer labor from Oakmont residents.

The trail should open as soon as the area has five solid days of warm weather to help the material set, Wells said.

If the city designates a recreational trail across its property – which it is expected to do later this month – the city property and the Oakmont trail together could create a public trail that will not only allow Oakmont residents to access the park but help cyclists stay off busy Highway 12.

“It’s really a good example of the city working with a community group to come up with a creative solution,” said Mayor Chris Coursey, who rode past the path on his bike Thursday afternoon.

Read more at: New Oakmont trail may solve long-simmering access dispute | The Press Democrat

Filed under Sustainable Living, Transportation

Santa Rosa settles 6-year-old case over Wild Oak bicycle access

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The “No Bicyclists” signs remain up and residents of the neighborhood will do their best to enforce their property rights, perhaps by calling police on bicyclists or hiring private security…

More than six years after Santa Rosa tried to force a gated community to let bicyclists roll through its leafy neighborhood, the city has thrown in the towel with little to show for it but big legal bills and embarrassment.

The city announced Thursday it had settled its lawsuit against the Villages at Wild Oak homeowners association after agreeing to drop its appeals and pay most of the association’s attorney’s fees.

Read more at: Santa Rosa settles 6-year-old case over Wild Oak access | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Transportation

Construction to start on SMART bike, pedestrian path

Staff, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, or SMART, received federal environmental clearance on April 6 for a portion of the planned bicycle and pedestrian pathway, stretching from north San Rafael to north Santa Rosa.

The 36-mile portion of the path from the San Rafael Civic Center Station to the Santa Rosa North Station near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport cleared National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, review.

The Petaluma-based transit agency said this federal green light is one of the most significant environmental approvals to advance bicycle and pedestrian projects in the Bay Area. It also makes the approved portion of the path eligible for federal funding, the train authority said.

Read more at: Construction to start on SMART bike, pedestrian path | North Bay Business Journal

Filed under Transportation

Santa Rosa SMART Jennings Avenue Railway Crossing

Teri Shore, GREENBELT ALLIANCE

On February 1 at a public hearing in Santa Rosa, a standing room only crowd of about 100 neighbors, advocates, and elected officials came together to speak out in favor of a safe at-grade crossing over the SMART tracks at Jennings Avenue for walkers and bicyclists. No one spoke against the City of Santa Rosa’s application to build the at-grade crossing.

The hearing held at Helen Lehman School was convened by an administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which claims that a super-sized bridge over the railway is the only solution. A final decision won’t be made until later this year, perhaps too late to build the crossing before the SMART commuter service starts running in December.

The CPUC recently blocked off the historic railroad crossing at Jennings, forcing people to walk or bike an extra half mile each way along busy thoroughfares such as Guerneville Road, where “you can reach out and touch cars going by” according to Janet Barocco, a 16-year resident of Jennings Avenue.

Before it was blocked off, as many as 91 people and 25 bicyclists a day typically crossed the tracks here, according to the City of Santa Rosa. Now they must walk another 15 to 30 minutes or get into cars. The CPUC claims that some 170 elementary students who go to school nearby might cross the tracks at Jennings if the at-grade crossing is permitted.

Read more at: Santa Rosa SMART Jennings Avenue Railway Crossing

Filed under Transportation

Wheels slowly turning for Sonoma Valley bike trail

SONOMA VALLEY SUN

A route has been identified for a proposed 13-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail through the Sonoma Valley. The public is invited to view and comment on the suggested alignment and other findings of a draft feasibility study at an open house planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Kenwood Fire Protection District office, 9045 Sonoma Highway.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors reviewed the study at its Jan. 12 meeting. See the plan.

The review evaluates the potential for a multi-use trail along Highway 12 between Santa Rosa and the Springs: on the west side between Melita Road and Oakmont Drive; along the east side between Oakmont and Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen; and along the west side between Arnold Drive and Agua Caliente Road.

With the exception of a few areas, the Highway 12 corridor lacks sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The proposed trail would improve safety for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians and promote alternative travel to wineries, parks and other Sonoma Valley attractions, planners say.

Read more at: Wheels slowly turning for Sonoma Valley bike trail | Sonoma Sun

Filed under Transportation

Proposed Dairyman Winery and event center corked for now

Krista Sherer, SONOMA WEST TIMES

The contentious Dairyman project hit an obstacle in September with the response from the Sonoma County Regional Parks denying access across the Joe Rodota trail for the project.  Residents and community groups throughout Sonoma County have opposed the project from the beginning, voicing that the large-scale winery and event center would not only violate zoning to the trail drastically effecting traffic, harm the ecosystem to the Laguna de Santa Rosa and negatively influence the overall character to the rural charm of West County.

In a Sept. 17 letter from Sonoma County Regional Parks (SCRP) Director Caryl Hart to Permit and Resource Management Department’s (PMRD) Supervising Planner Traci Tesconi, Hart wrote that the land owner currently has no legal rights to cross the trail and crosses at the county’s sufferance.

Read more about this project at: Proposed Dairyman Winery and event center corked for now – Sonoma West Times and News: News

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use, Sustainable Living, Transportation

SMART settlement paves way for bike, pedestrian path

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cycling advocates say a last-minute agreement hammered out with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials will prioritize a bike and pedestrian path that voters demanded in 2008 when they approved construction of the commuter rail line.

The agreement, brokered by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, calls for establishing a list of higher priority pathway segments and identifying funding sources for those projects.

Cycling advocates had been threatening to sue SMART over a section of pathway planned in San Rafael, a dispute that more generally speaks to concerns the rail agency is failing to meet its obligations to build the promised network. The agreement, for now, appears to have addressed those concerns.

“Overall, this is a very, very positive development. It increases hope that the path will actually be built,” said Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Read more at: SMART settlement paves way for bike, pedestrian path | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Transportation

Work gets underway on next section of Bodega Bay Trail

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Construction is about to begin on the next step of a coastal trail designed eventually to run through the community of Bodega Bay, linking commercial, residential and recreational areas spread along narrow Highway 1 from one end of town to the other.

When opened at the end of this year, the newest .55-mile stretch will mark completion of about 1.1 miles of pathway — about a third of the overall, 3.5-mile Bodega Bay Bike & Pedestrian Trail eventually planned to run from Doran Beach north to Salmon Creek Beach and beyond.

The existing trail curves slightly through low-growing bushes and conifer trees that largely block Highway 1 from view, treating pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to a scenic alternative to the road.

“It gets people off Highway 1, too, so it’s safer,” State Park Ranger Greg Propst said.

The new segment will run from Bodega Dunes Road — the entrance to the state park campground of the same name — to Keefe Avenue in the community of Salmon Creek, just inland from south Salmon Creek Beach and north of the central business district.

Read more at: Work gets underway on next section of Bodega Bay Trail

Filed under Sonoma Coast

Joseph Wagner shifts focus from Meiomi to Dairyman winery project

Bill Swindell, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Fresh off selling his Meiomi brand for $315 million to Constellation Brands Inc., Joe Wagner is planning his next steps as the 33-year-old wine entrepreneur has emerged as one of the of biggest players to watch in the North Coast wine industry.

At the top of his list is a desire to complete the controversial Dairyman winery project near Sebastopol, which has run into opposition from community activists. Critics contend the plan, which would turn the 68-acre property into a large-scale winery, will snarl traffic along the Highway 12 corridor, degrade their quality of life and use up scarce water during a drought.

“We’re having this (conducted) as a very thorough process that doesn’t leave any stone unturned. We feel pretty confident. I like the project, still,” Wagner said Wednesday after speaking at a conference sponsored by the industry publication Wines & Vines. “People see it for the positives. Obviously, some people think it’s not the right place and the right size or anything.”

Wagner has agreed to submit the project — which calls for a facility that can produce up to 500,000 cases of wine and 250,000 gallons of distilled spirits annually, an administration building and hospitality center — for a full environmental impact report to assuage local concerns.

The biggest hurdle, Wagner contends, will be finding a way for vehicles to enter the proposed winery from Highway 12 through an access road that would cross the popular Joe Rodota Trail, used by bicyclists and runners. A tunnel might be one option, he said.

Read more at: Joseph Wagner shifts focus from Meiomi to Dairyman | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use

Winery event center backlash grows in rural communities

Padi Selwyn, Co-chair, Preserve Rural Sonoma County, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

They used to call it God’s Country and then the Redwood Empire during the logging years. After a planting spree in the 1990’s, when vineyard acreage more than doubled to more than 60,000 acres, Sonoma County was rebranded appropriately as Wine Country. This boom created a frenzy of activity, the rampant overdevelopment of wineries and event centers, 90% of which are now located in our rural areas – that’s 439 facilities.

Cumulative Impacts 

The County of Sonoma has ignored the cumulative impact these facilities are having on traffic safety, our watersheds, our neighborhoods, and the intent of our general plan, which was to preserve greenbelt areas and community separators. They have ignored agricultural zoning by bending the rules to accommodate big business wine, and now we are seeing irresponsible behavior by the Board of Zoning.

On June 4th, the 7171 West Dry Creek micro-winery and mega-Event Center was presented to the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA)/Planning Commission.  However, the project defined in the June Staff Report was not the same project description presented for public scrutiny and input for the cancelled May 21st hearing.  Rather, it was materially different than both the project defined in the Use Permit and the previous application upon which the County based its environmental review.

The BZA decision included multiple fatal flaws:

1) the public had no chance to review the revised application,

2) the impacts of the intensified hospitality uses, including a commercial kitchen and weddings and 4,000 square feet of new facilities were never evaluated for impacts to road safety, and

3) the expert technical studies submitted by neighbors were ignored.

This process was clearly unethical and contrary to state law, yet it was approved by the BZA in a 4 to 1 vote!

Overtaking Rural Regions

Preserve Rural Sonoma County (PRSC) is challenging the very disturbing trend of the county to blindly approve more and more event centers overtaking our rural areas, on one and two lane roads, where road safety issues and traffic congestion continue to deteriorate. The state of California is requiring groundwater sustainability – yet the county keeps approving more and more of these water-guzzling projects.

There are 2,600 special winery events each year permitted by the county, and an unknown number of non-permitted events. There are now twice as many event centers as the General Plan planned for by the year 2020! It seems that our Planning Commissioners and BZA members have not read the plan, yet they have been entrusted with our future.

Dairyman Winery/Factory

The Dairyman project, proposed for just outside the Sebastopol city limits on Hwy 12, is especially egregious as it may locate a huge development in an environmentally sensitive community separator, converting agricultural land into an industrial sized bottling production and party facility.  This violates the intent of the greenbelt community separator and the General Plan.

Joseph Wagner, the developer, and Caymus family of winemakers, has requested a use permit for:

• The production of 500,000 cases of wine, 250,000 gallons of distilled spirits

• 62 events each year with up to 600 guests each

• 87k square feet of production and office areas

They will be trucking in 99% of their raw materials, as they only grow 1% of what they need for their production goals. Hwy 12 is already a traffic nightmare and with the number of events and tanker trucks, we foresee an untenable situation.

The Wagner family was fined $1 million 2 years ago in Napa’s largest winery settlement for exceeding the permitted production capacity at their Rutherford winery, producing 20x more wine than allowed by their permit.  NOT a good neighbor!

The driveway into the Dairyman property crosses the Joe Rodota Trail, our popular walking/bike path. This will create safety hazards.

Because the property was formerly a dairy, it is zoned agricultural. We don’t believe that an industrial sized bottling and distillery factory should be allowed on land designated as agricultural and in a community separator.

The Dairyman project is the wrong size, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.  

Balance Sought

With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, it’s hard to fathom how proposals for winery/resort/event center projects continue to be considered by our county.

County officials must begin to restore the balance between supporting tourism, without impacting the wonderful rural character that makes this area such a great place to live, to work and to visit.

Our battle is going to be a long one.  But, we feel that protecting our rural lifestyle and scenic beauty is critical work, for us and future generations.

To keep updated on these issues, – visit   http://www.preserveruralsonomacounty.org

And join the Facebook supporters at www.facebook.com/preserveruralsonomacounty

 

Source: Winery Event Center Backlash Grows in Rural Communities, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations