Mountain View Voice

News - August 27, 2010

Blocked pathway causes a stir

Town home complex stops pedestrian access

by Daniel DeBolt

The city is looking into complaints from residents after a homeowners association decided to block off a well used path through the neighborhood to Rengstorff Park, the Senior Center and downtown. So far, the city's research indicates that the path was never meant for the public.

Ryland Towne Court is a townhouse development at the north end of Ortega Avenue. A pedestrian pathway cuts through its eastern fence at the corner of College and Leland streets near Mi Pueblo Market and the railroad tracks. Two residents complained last week on the Voice's Town Square forums that this pedestrian path was blocked with a plywood board across the fence last weekend. Without the path, a long detour onto busy California Street becomes necessary for pedestrians in the area heading east toward downtown or Rengstorff Park.

On Tuesday, planning director Randy Tsuda said that the city was still researching the issue, "but at this point the files we've looked at seem to indicate that pedestrian access was for the benefit of the residents in the Ryland Court project. It is not a public access route. There's no public access easement through that gate."

Despite this, the public has been making use of the path and some find it invaluable.

A resident of The Crossings, a nearby development to the west, wrote, "I walk everywhere I possibly can, and this route is certainly the more desirable to get to Rengstorff Park, the Senior Center, the Community Center, to continue on to downtown. I would never dream of walking to any of those places if my only choice were to walk along California Street."

City officials said they had some understanding about why the path was blocked.

"The HOA apparently had concerns with some security issues and some vandalism," said Ellis Berns, Mountain View's economic development director, who filled in for Tsuda last week.

The city has been looking into the legality of closing off the pathway. Berns said last week the town homes were built about 10 years ago and it is possible that the path was a city requirement for the development.

In another case of a blocked pathway, the city opened access through a fence separating an Escuela Avenue apartment complex from Rengstorff Park and the Senior Center last year. That was despite concerns that it would encourage apartment dwellers to park in the crowded Senior Center parking lot.

"We're always doing our best to try to connect communities," Berns said. But sometimes there are other concerns, he said.

"We are always trying to find that balance."

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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