It’s time, once again, to dispel the myths that have accumulated to date over the city’s 2006 Arana Gulch Master Plan and the 16-year-old Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Path Connection Project, around which the entire Master Plan was unfortunately conceived.
Proponents of the Broadway-Brommer project have continually maintained that a quarter-mile long, 8-foot wide with 4 feet of gravel shoulders paved bike roadway across Arana Gulch would “get people out of their cars” and reduce automobile air pollution in the Monterey Bay area.
However, in an Aug. 9 article in the Sentinel, we learn this turns out not to be the case. The Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District has halted all major bike projects because “while the projects have been popular among recreational cyclists, the district hasn’t seen a dent in emissions.” Actually, the city was informed by Caltrans years ago, in writing, that it could not make the unsubstantiated claim that building a bike project across Arana Gulch would get people out of their cars.
Proponents of the Broadway-Brommer project hold that the wide, paved bike roadway would provide handicapped access to the Arana Gulch Greenbelt, plus public interpretation of the natural area. If the city really wants handicapped access to the Greenbelt, nothing is stopping it from providing such.
The existing two access entrances to the greenbelt can be easily reconfigured and an ADA compliant real “path” around the perimeter of tarplant habitat can be easily designed and built. ADA access and interpretive signage don’t require a bike road with a footprint of 12 to 15 feet and two bridges over two creeks, through federally designated critical habitat for an endangered species. As for interpretive signage, there used to be a gorgeous sign at the northern entrance to the greenbelt, gone for years, that showed a red-tailed hawk circling above and gave great botanical information about the endangered tarplant. The sign sits safely at the city’s Parks and Recreation building for now.
Proponents have repeatedly claimed that the wide paved bike roadway is necessary to fund required restoration for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant. This is not true. The city has been conducting tarplant restoration activities yearly since 1995, with no bike road in sight. And city Public Works officials have told the Coastal Commission that tarplant restoration is to be funded through the sale of property adjoining Arana Gulch, the proceeds from which will go into a dedicated restoration fund. The money for Broadway-Brommer comes from Federal transportation funds.
The Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Path Connection Project contained in the Arana Gulch Master Plan remains just what it is: a bicycle connection from one part of the urban county to another part, through Arana Gulch. In other words, a transportation project. As such, it cannot be considered a “resource dependent,” interpretive trail, as is required by Section 30520 of the Coastal Act.
Michael Lewis and Jean Brocklebank, on behalf of Friends of Arana Gulch.