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Can San Bruno become the Bay Area’s Emerald Necklace?

CA Sagebrush Community
CA Sagebrush Community

Property Sold!
The corner property at San Bruno Ave and Skyline Blvd, as well as the property across the street and adjacent to Crestmoor Canyon was recently sold to a developer who intends to build 31 homes.

Should San Bruno residents be concerned?
Although the 2010 PG&E explosion in San Bruno’s Crestmoor Park was a horrific tragedy that no one wishes ever to happen again, the aftermath afforded San Bruno a small window of opportunity – a once in a lifetime opportunity to link some of the Bay Area’s most beautiful trails together.

The vision being discussed in San Bruno’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) is whether the Crestmoor Canyon Trail can be expanded to serve as a clasp to connect three trails - the Sawyer Camp Trail, which begins at Crystal Springs in San Mateo; the San Andreas Trail, which runs through Millbrae; and the Centennial Trail whose southern end terminates at the San Bruno BART Station. By no means will this vision be a seamless connection of natural parks like the Emerald Necklace in Boston, designed by landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted. But it is hoped that 4 or maybe 5 Bay Area bicycle and walking trails from San Mateo to South San Francisco can be connected together, and Crestmoor Canyon can serve this vital role.

However, the northern entrance of the San Andreas Trail can only be connected with Crestmoor Canyon if a bicycle/pedestrian trail is extended from Skyline Blvd to Glenview, and a trail opening to Crestmoor Canyon is created at the corner of San Bruno Ave and Glenview.

Shortsighted people buy houses, but strategic people buy communities.
If San Bruno allows the developer’s planned 31 single family residential houses at San Bruno Ave and Skyline without a dedicated easement for bicyclists & pedestrians to transit between the San Andreas Reservoir and Crestmoor Canyon, it will be a disaster for all.

The developer may make greater immediate profits by selling 31 homes, but what will the quality of life be for the 31 new homeowners on this foggy and windswept hilltop? Except for Lunardi's Market, what services can residents find West of I-280? Zero! Moreover, many animals have been crossing Skyline Blvd, playing Russian Roulette with traffic, and finding themselves in forest islands surrounded by a sea of homes. Can we create a wildlife bridge combined with a bike/pedestrian trail over Skyline Blvd?

Without a one-block bicycle and pedestrian transit way between Skyline Blvd and Glenview Dr, the potential opportunity to link 5 trails together will be lost forever, and there will be no justification for the BPAC to request a Southwest opening to Crestmoor Canyon at San Bruno Ave and Glenview. Without the Crestmoor Canyon Trail, there will be no option down the hill except via San Bruno Ave West, which barely has any sidewalk between Lunardi’s and Crestmoor, and absolutely nothing for bicyclists or pedestrians eastward. Walking or bicycling on the shoulders of this curvy and steep auto route at dawn or dusk can be terrifying!

Caltrans is officially the Ca Department of Transportation, but they are in essence the "Freeway" Department. A Caltrans representative said the agency prefers that their highways and/or freeway openings have no bicyclist or pedestrian amenity whatsoever, as opposed to having some, in order to avoid lawsuits. If SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit) has a budget cut, and continue eliminating stops, San Bruno residents on Skyline will have no option but to drive a car!

It is interesting that Bay Area urban planners have long been promoting high-density housing along transit hubs to decrease traffic congestion. By building along the high-density transit corridor, they’ve increased the population and demand for existing mass transit, but they have never built any alternative transportation infrastructure for hilltop or hillside residents - the existing infrastructure is exclusively for motor vehicles! So it is ludicrous to claim San Mateo County is even approaching green. 24 new homes were already built behind Lunardi’s on Skycrest Drive recently. Together with the 31 proposed houses, there will be 55 additional families on the hilltop. In addition, Pacific Bay Vistas, formerly Treetop Apartments, just reopened with 300+ remodeled units. If hilltop and hillside residents ever decide to abandon their cars for mass transit, BART and Samtrans will be overwhelmed.

What will happen if there is another natural disaster, like an earthquake? San Bruno has only two fire stations – one on the San Andreas Fault at Earl, and one at City Hall on El Camino Real. If the Earl Drive station is disabled or destroyed, San Bruno will have only one station to respond to 40,000 residents. If the earthquake is so severe that it affects the entire Bay Area, all of the fire stations in adjacent cities will be too busy to help San Bruno residents.

The developer is technically not required to inform residents greater than 150 feet away from the project site of its intentions, so a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian transit way between Skyline Blvd and Glenview Drive can only be assured if San Bruno residents are informed and politically active in their community. Creating a Bay Area version of Fredrick Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace is not just for recreation; it can be a vital connection during a natural disaster, as well as an alternative transit route for all Peninsula residents!

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