News

Water district declares emergency for Stevens Creek Trail

Expedited repairs needed to shore up crumbling creek bank, protect trail detour

Santa Clara Valley Water District officials are taking swift action to control worsening erosion along Stevens Creek Trail. A large chunk of the paved path caved in over the last six weeks and now threatens the city's new trail detour.

In an Aug. 18 memo, water district staff recommended that interim CEO Norma Camacho declare an emergency, enabling the water district to skip the normal contracting process in order speed up the repair the damaged segment of Stevens Creek north of El Camino Real before the next rainy season, which officially begins on Oct. 15.

"Absent the emergency action, high flows in the creek coupled with saturation of the eroded embankment will likely hasten the already alarming rate of soil erosion," the memo said.

In January, heavy rainfall coupled with controlled releases from the Stevens Creek reservoir weakened the soil along a steep embankment between El Camino and Yuba Drive, causing a landslide about 180 feet in length, according to the memo. The immediate aftermath caused trees to tumble into the creek and left a 25-foot nearly vertical drop into the creek bed just inches from the edge of the trail.

Despite the reprieve from wet weather during the spring and summer months, conditions on the creek bank have gone from bad to worse. Erosion now has claimed a larger stretch of the creekside, and has widened enough to swallow up a 60-foot portion of the creek trail. Mountain View city staff told the water district earlier this month that soil loss along the trail now has the "potential" to erode the city's trail detour, which was completed in June and runs through the adjacent hotel property. Erosion could also undermine several nearby redwood trees, the memo said.

Aaron Grossman, executive director of the Friends of Steven Creek Trail, said the group is "very worried" about the worsening erosion, and that they have sent requests to the water district asking to expedite the repair work to stabilize what's left. Without some sort of intervention, he said, there won't be much creek bank left for a path.

"Things are going downhill fast," Grossman said "The wash-out left things in a very precarious situation, and we're worried that without fast intervention the land subsidence won't leave enough (room) for a trail there."

Geotechnical staff for the district found that without some sort of emergency repair work, more segments of the trail would likely collapse, posing an "imminent threat" to the public trail, the district's maintenance road and adjacent properties. The memo concedes that the worsening conditions on the creek bank in August were unexpected.

The announcement by the water district doesn't mean the trail will be restored and open to the public at an accelerated pace. The emergency declaration specifically calls for repairs to prevent erosion from progressing, and a larger capital project to restore the trail will kick off next year.

Although city staff voiced concerns about the temporary trail detour being affected by the erosion, the bypass remains open to the public. Public works staff will meet with the water district once repair plans are in place to figure out how it might impact trail users, according to Bruce Hurlburt, the city's parks and open space manager.

The request for an emergency declaration was approved by Interim CEO Camacho and went before the district board for review at its Aug. 22 meeting, according to a water district spokeswoman.

Comments

23 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2017 at 10:57 am

Dragging their feet on starting repairs was really not a good idea. If this was a car road project, they would have started as soon as the rain stopped and been done by now.


35 people like this
Posted by Walk Your Bike
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Anyone else notice in the photo the sign clearly says "Walk your bike, Narrow path" and yet the cyclist is still riding their bike. Not too safe, especially for a pedestrian.


4 people like this
Posted by @Reader
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Aside form the fact that I see no pedestrian and the rider has an up-trail full view of that as well, clearly he is positioning to dismount. That pedestrian though...is he/she wearing headphones? That's the most dangerous thing pedestrians can do.


8 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 24, 2017 at 4:09 pm

@Walk Your Bike

Totally agree with you. All of the underpasses along the trail and blind turns are too narrow for safety, especially when you have overly aggressive idiots commuting thru them at 25 to 30 mph and not using warning bells. The speed limit is supposed to be 15 mph, and MV should be enforcing it and issuing tickets at underpasses and blind turns. Bicyclists and pedestrians are not safely compatible on trails if the speed differential is too great.


5 people like this
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 24, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Creek bed and creek bank erosion are part of the natural aging process for creeks. This erosion is part of a larger pattern and the water district needs to consider long-term plans in that light.

Emergency repairs are needed now but a long term plan might well focus on widening the creek by purchasing adjacent properties, as well as flow rate mitigations the water district has been trying to implement--over vociferous local opposition--in past years.

The hotel property in immediate danger of erosion, as well as the trailer park land that has been eroding away for the past several years are potential purchases adjacent to El Camino Real but there are numerous others along the length of Stevens Creek and other creeks. Check the history, but I believe that in the 1800s the El Camino Real crossing of Stevens Creek was a ford, i.e., a very wide, shallow creek bed with gently sloping banks.


30 people like this
Posted by Gretchen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2017 at 5:01 pm

Next: Can the water district declares emergency on all the endless stream of garbage and clean up of the Stevens Creek? Do we really allow people making the banks of the creek their home? How about law enforcement clamping down on graffiti vandals?


4 people like this
Posted by Outlaw Earbud on the trrail
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2017 at 6:09 am

Almost as stupid as wearing blindfold. I've stopped altering people with headphone in as it does nothing. You folks are on your own...keep right, it's a shared use trail and other user groups like cyclists, skateboarders and and roller-bladers WILL be coming up behind you at greater than walking speed.
Good luck.


14 people like this
Posted by MTV commuter
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 25, 2017 at 6:47 am

Stevens Creek Trail is a bicycle highway and should be treated like any other highway: repaired quickly, with adequate lighting, and the corners smoothed out so that they can be handled at full speed.

If this were a car-road, action would've been taken immediately.


8 people like this
Posted by Fixed it
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2017 at 10:23 am

"Stevens Creek Trail is a multi-use trail"


5 people like this
Posted by Citizen84
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Citizen84 is a registered user.

The City and Santa Clara Valley Water District must do whatever is nessesary to save the Stevens Creek Trail.

The Water District is responsible for the excessive water release from the Stevens Creek reservoir last winter and MUST act now to fix the damage.

This is the only walking trail worth mentioning that traverses our neighborhoods. Shoreline trails are too far for most people to walk to and we can all agree that walking should be encouraged over driving.


8 people like this
Posted by Citizen84
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Citizen84 is a registered user.

One more thought: Stevens Creek Trail is a multi-use trail and it's time we reconsidered that.

You have multigenerational families walking along with their dogs and infants at snail pace as impetuous and benighted Googlers charge along at 45 miles/hour to make their appointments, trying to share a narrow pathway and it just does not work.

It's time to think about splitting pedestrian and bicycle traffic onto separated pathways. Do we need to wait for someone to get hurt before we widen the trail to accommodate both types of traffic?


17 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Traditionally, road cyclists learn to call out "on your left" to warn when they are passing other riders or walkers. Lately about half of the time this seems to be heard as "move to your left" with the obvious wrong result.

As a cyclist who respects the situation on the trail and rides moderately when I use it, I am often affronted and sometimes endangered by self-entitled fool cyclists who think that they are endowed with some special right to go as fast as they can, no matter the other people on the trail, the visibility, or manners. A hotshot MIcrosoft person who I happened to recognize as a (mediocre) amateur racer even yelled at me to get the hell out of the way, when I slowed a bit to be careful of a veering tot on a trike heading the opposite way. Ummm, take your race workout to the open road, master of the universe.

I also walk on the trail, and can say that while walking, a bike passing at 15 mph seems to be going pretty fast. I observe fit riders sustaining 20-25 routinely, which is a pretty good cruising speed on the road for most riders. In other words, not scaled back to suit the circumstances of a narrow multi-use trail.

On popular Sawyer Camp Trail in San Mateo (which is not a commute route of any significance), for years state park rangers have used radar guns to advise bicyclists of their speed and issue tickets to some violators. Also 15 mph, also hazardous due to cyclists who doing a workout or think they are racing, and peds who wear earbuds, walk in wide groups across the trail, and abruptly change direction without looking in either direction. The enforcement seemed effective when it was visible, otherwise not so much. Longer term, perhaps it was educational. I have seen MVPD on the trail, both on a mountain bike and motorcycle.

Obviously there is a shared responsibility to be mindful and alert. Could enforcement instill improved cognition and behavior?


8 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Interesting to hear that this trail is both a bike highway and a multi-use trail. I have personally tried to walk along this trail as a casual hike with a friend. It is not possible. We had to walk single file and watch for bike traffic all the time. I would not want to walk this with a family.

You can't have it both ways. If it is a hiking trail, then that's what it should be. If it is a bike boulevard, then that's what it should be. If it is a short cut to Google, or Shoreline, then it is not the place for recreational strolling.

We need more pedestrian rights of way, we need more bike boulevards, we need more hiking trails, but one narrow path cannot be all three.


105 people like this
Posted by SpeedBumps
a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2017 at 1:28 am

Stevens Creek trail needs speed bumps. Bikers shouldn't be going faster than 15. Its dangerous. This trail is not set up for even that speed. Faster is really bad. It's too narrow. It's barely as wide as most sidewalks. I guess there wasn't much room.

But there is the Permanente Creek Trail to get up to Google from Crittenden Middle School. Stevens Creek Trail is on the far South border of the city and doesn't serve the neighborhoods much at all. In that sense it's a highway, but more of a high sidewalk.


2 people like this
Posted by @Speedbumps
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2017 at 5:26 am

Have you noticed that speed bumps don't slow cyclists down on the road. Are you calling for trip-bumps? That's what they would end up becoming. Also, speed bumps would prohibit disabled people in wheelchairs from using the trail.


4 people like this
Posted by @PA Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2017 at 5:32 am

"You can't have it both ways. If it is a hiking trail, then that's what it should be. If it is a bike boulevard, then that's what it should be. If it is a short cut to Google, or Shoreline, then it is not the place for recreational strolling."

Steven's creek trail, as a designated multi-use trail, is in fact all three of the things you discuss and more! Depending on the time of day it can look like a running trial, cyclist trail, new mommy group trail, senior group walk day trail...has been for decades, still is today, and doing it well.


19 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 26, 2017 at 10:13 am

I am now retired, but during the 1980s and 1990s when this trail was being built I worked in the north Shoreline area (called Sterlin back then, if I recall correctly). Even back then, traffic along Shoreline was terrible and the city heavily advertised the trail as a bicycle commute alternative. Other bicycle routes over Hwy 101 were (and continue to be) terrible and this trail made a huge safety difference to bicycle commuters. I really doubt that the city would have put up that much money for a recreation-only trail. Transportation was always a big (or even the biggest) part of the equation.


17 people like this
Posted by Trailer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2017 at 4:02 pm

The trail is NOT one single thing or favored primarily for anyone. Shared multi use. No single user group has privilege over another. I'm glad I don't run into these "Me first" "Outta my way", "You should act how I say" users on my 3-4 days a week I'm on the trail. Most usually everyone is either quiet or friendly with a smile and hello. Must be a msg board thing


51 people like this
Posted by maybe
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 27, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Maybe its time to give the creek more space and invest the funds in restoring its function as a natural creek
Bikes can use roads


14 people like this
Posted by You sound fun
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2017 at 10:23 am

One of the jewels of Mtn view. Don't expect it to go away anytime soon. Everyone loves the trail!


138 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm

What kind of idiot thinks that this trail is a "bicycle highway"? Perhaps the same kind that thinks bicycles don't need to stop at stop signs or lights. Too many wanna-bee cycle racers think they can just yell "on your left" and expect others to move out of their way, regardless of other oncoming traffic, obstacles, or pace. More enforcement and speed-control measures will be critical for this trail, and hopefully the [generally lazy] water district management can find a way to work this into their repairs.


32 people like this
Posted by Humble observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 28, 2017 at 1:35 pm

A printed Voice letter 10 years ago (extract below) cited commonsense tips for harmonious Stevens Creek Trail use. Trail signs promote similar advice. It's striking how these principles remain steadily ignored by some users, and even commenters above ("... tried to walk along this trail as a casual hike with a friend. It is not possible. We had to walk single file and watch for bike traffic..." -- PA Resident; compare #5 below). And what can ever be done about people who misunderstand "on your left" (an ancient, established custom!) per Jeff's comment above -- there, the faster traveler does things "right" but the slower ones Don't Get It. A few years back there was also an epic war of words between walkers and bikers on the Shoreline Park trails.

I think most trail users are alert and considerate, but the exceptions often show humans' magnificent blindess to problems created by themselves. Behind many a written tirade about obstructive pedestrians is a wannabe bicycle racer (#2 below); behind complaints about dangerously fast bikers are certainly some groups of self-absorbed walkers who spread out, cordoning off the trail (#5) amid animated conversation, oblivious to audible cues or warnings.

Mike Patterson's 2007 suggestions Web Link : 1. Never stop ON the trail to view scenery [emphasis added]. 2. Never ride the trail like it's a time trial in the Tour de France. 3. If you are pedestrian wearing headphones or whatever, walk facing traffic, since you won't hear anyone announce their proximity. 4. If you ride the trail on a crowded day, assume you will need to go slow and stop for children. 5. Never block the trail by walking two, three or four abreast. 6. Never frighten or intimidate people who are slower than you.


66 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Calling out "on your left" works great in a relatively homogeneous group of cyclists where everyone understands the convention. On a multi-use trail, it can be perceived by pedestrians as "mm mmmm left", which can lead to unpleasant results.

If cyclists feel the need to call out "on your left" on a multi-use trail like the Stevens Creek Trail, then maybe it would be better for them to slow down and pass at a speed that doesn't require as much cooperation from the pedestrians they're passing.


4 people like this
Posted by CourtneyB
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 28, 2017 at 3:38 pm

@Darin...calling "on your left" is the courteous custom of letting someone know you are passing, regardless of speed. It lets bikers, skaters, and pedestrians know there is someone behind them, going at a faster speed than they are, and alerts them to stay to the right for the safety of all. Hitting a pedestrian at 5mph can be just as injurious as at 15mph for both pedestrian and rider, so simply riding slower doesn't solve the problem. I am often a pedestrian on the trail as well, and have taught myself to stay as far to the right as is safe to allow other uses of the trail to flow by me on my left. It takes respect and caution on all sides to make a safe trail.


5 people like this
Posted by Humble observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm

CourtneyB nailed it. In fact the point is much more general than just bicyclists and pedestrians. I didn't learn "on your left!" in that context, but in others (multiple activities) where someone passes someone else going slower. It's such a widely used custom -- trail etiquette notices in this region also remind people of it -- that pedestrians own a de-facto responsibility to be aware of it, therefore to expect it on a trail, and understand what even Darin's example of a badly heard "mm mmmm left" would signify. (The bad-hearing issue is itself a reminder of the safety importance of audible cues and being alert to them. The 2007 letter I mentioned above included the practical suggestion that pedestrians *not* willing or equipped to listen alertly for audible cues face oncoming traffic instead, so they'll at least have visual cues of faster traffic. It's common sense, but common sense isn't universal.)


Like this comment
Posted by It used to work
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

At 15 mph I can easily announce "I'll be passing on your left" which should be understood by all but the most seriously unaware, but sadly most of the ears that message is meant for are now plugged with devices. I stopped trying.


Like this comment
Posted by Humble observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm

In the 1980s the fashionable portable ear-filler was Sony Walkman (tm) tape-cassette players. That was the cliché distraction that other public trail users criticized, for deafening the wearers. They've always had the option of facing the traffic as suggested earlier.

The technology changes, but self-absorption is timeless. (By the way, I've never biked on Stevens Creek trail, only walked it.)


30 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm

If I am not supposed to walk beside a friend then it is not a pleasant place to stroll.

If there are rules about being single file, then they should be well posted because I didn't see them. And what should a family do? It sounds more like the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music than a family outing.

As for bikers shouting on your left, I can't hear words very well. I hear a noise, which could well be someone shouting hi there to a friend. What's wrong with bicycle bells, they are very distinctive and everyone understands the sound.

It sounds to me that this Trail should really be called a bike highway as it is very evident from many of these comments that hikers are not wanted and not treated respectfully.


2 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 28, 2017 at 4:53 pm

I don't think walking against traffic is a good idea. You can yield (step out of road) to oncoming traffic but that won't work in the narrow sections like underpasses.


16 people like this
Posted by Bob Marcus
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 29, 2017 at 5:33 am

One commenter said:
" it is very evident from many of these comments that hikers are not wanted and not treated respectfully."

But a regular trail user said:
"I'm glad I don't run into these "Me first" "Outta my way", "You should act how I say" users on my 3-4 days a week I'm on the trail. Most usually everyone is either quiet or friendly with a smile and hello. Must be a msg board thing"

As a semi-regular hiker on the trail I agree much more with the regular trail user.


Like this comment
Posted by Otis Gulati
a resident of North Bayshore
on Aug 30, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I always let out a blood curdling scream when I was past


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