Atascadero council approves funds for trailhead
City will construct trailhead on Carmelita Road near Highway 41
Atascadero Land Preservation Society has successfully retained undeveloped land as open space over the last several years. Tuesday night, it acquired the right-of-way and funding to construct a trailhead on city property for the public to access the land along Highway 41 at Three Bridges. Atascadero City Council approved, 5-0, the society’s easement and funding requests with two amendments.
The council considered the following six items:
- Adopt Draft Resolution A, certifying proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration 2014-0010 prepared for the project
- Authorize the city manager to enter into a use agreement with ALPS to allow ongoing use of city property on Carmelita Road for a trailhead
- Authorize the city manager to execute a Deed of Conservation and Open Space Preservation Easement and a Public Access Easement, to guarantee open space status and public access to trails on the ALPS owned properties
- Authorize the city manager to execute the required documents for a bridge loan to ALPS in the amount of $120,000, with funds from the city’s Tree Plant Fund, provided that the loan be secured by ALPS property, to front the project construction costs which will be later repaid by reimbursement by the California Natural Resources Agency grant
- Authorize the Administrative Services Director to appropriate $500,000 in Open Space Acquisition funds and $58,000 in ALPS contribution funds for the for construction of trailhead parking and a 20-foot emergency access road on Carmelita — from Barranco Road to Highway 41
- Adopt Draft Resolution B, approving a preliminary trailhead and emergency access road design for construction on City property and on Carmelita Road right-of-way
The council made amendments to items 2 and 6. For item 2, the council added an option to allow a gate at the end of San Diego and Toloso roads if it is found to be necessary to prevent trail access at those locations. For item 6, the council directed staff to look for opportunities for additional parking spaces at the Carmelita trailhead and for the city engineer to review the vehicular access route for possible new or upgraded signage and pavement markings. Taylor said the organization asked the city to take the lead on the project, which would be considered a capital improvement project. ALPS would then be responsible for the ongoing maintenance.
Over the last couple of years, Taylor said, the group has worked with Caltrans to identify the best access point to the property to construct the trailhead. In addition to its current proposed location, access from Toloso and San Diego roads were also considered, but not chosen because of how steep the property is.
“The current proposal requests a single trailhead at the west end of Carmelita Road west of Barranco Road,” she said.
The trail system would only be open for seasonal use and ony from dawn to dusk. Neighbors of the trailhead expressed their concern of people accessing the trails off-season or after dark. Several citizens requested that additional fencing be installed so that people cannot get on the trail on the other side of Highway 41. Taylor said that “no parking” signs will be installed on San Diego and Toloso roads to dissuade people from parking there.
“We do have a concern, and there were 26 signatures that were on the letter, that has to do with fencing at the end of the property and signage,” San Diego Road resident George Marrett said.
One neighborhood resident, Mark Palmer, said he is concerned with more people accessing the trailhead by using the dry creek crossing from Highway 41 to Carmelita Road.
While neighborhood residents raised concerns over access and parking, they all said they thought it was a very nice project. Other local citizens said they were in favor of the project.
“I’d like to see approval of this project so kids of this community can have the opportunity to enjoy nature as I did,” said Atascadero resident Dave Highland, who grew up in the city.
ALPS member and Atascadero resident Charles Bourbeau raised the concern that he’s not sure that the money for the road improvements outside the trailhead area should come from the open space acquisition funds. He suggested that council conider using circulation systems feeds to pay for that part of the project.
“I very much want to see it happen, but I wanted to make sure you thought through that concern,” Bourbeau said.
City Manager Rachelle Rickard said that the reasoning behind using that money for the project is because improvements widening the road and creek crossing for emergency access are a condition of approve — the project will not happen without them.