OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez and Karen Allanson —
There is a deadly barrier to wildfire escape we need to remove. If you live on El Granada Blvd, and a wildfire starts nearby, you may find your downhill evacuation blocked – by the fire, or by other residents crowding to escape, or by emergency vehicles trying to do their jobs. The alternative would be to flee uphill, to the open lands, most of which are un-treed. However, there’s a locked gate barring your escape.
Sources: Materials in this article were provided by El Granada residents.
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When I emailed the Planning Commission regarding this matter, they stated that “The Planning Commission plays no role here.” and referred me to Supervisor Horsley, so the local residents and I are pursuing that. Certainly, the Planning Commission doesn’t make policy decisions, but one wonders why the combination of the Commission and the Planning Department granted the lot line adjustment back in 2003 which created
another “cherry stem” from a private residence to that gate, and which further placed that gate BEFORE the junction of two trails/roads. One trail leads to County/POST recreation lands, the other to a private residence. If the main objective to deed the land first to POST and then to County was to increase access and connect trails – then why the lot line adjustment which technically cut off all connection and access to those trails? It is understandable that the home owner wants an easement for access to that property. But why can’t the locked gate be some distance down the trail to that residence, rather than blocking both recreational and emergency egress for all El Granada residents, a barrier that could be deadly?
What is interesting about this newly blocked gate is the concept of a ‘prescriptive easement’. Thanks to all the GPS apps out there for hikers, bikers, birders etc – when you look at the data you can see all those El Granada trails light up like neon signs, as they have been heavily used for years. This is a key criterion for a ‘prescriptive easement’, which is a right to continued access based on longstanding use, even if not consented to. You may recall the dispute with Vinod Khosla over Martin’s Beach. In the case of our gate, that access has been for well over a decade, depending upon which Elders you talk to.
I have heard murmurings that this matter is going to be taken care of, but until we have an official ruling and a movement or permanent opening of the gate, we are flagging this matter for resident attention.
The position paper below reflects the research of El Granada residents, and was today forwarded to Supervisor Horsley.Fire Evacuation Blocked from Top of El Granada Blvd
Mr. Dieguez >> is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is a member of the MCC, but his opinions here are his own, and not those of the Council. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.
<< Karen Allanson is a 20-year homeowner on the Coastside who serves as a volunteer with the Community Emergency Response Team, and on the Board of Directors of a local non-profit as Rear Commodore with the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club. Her background is as a longtime executive in the Ed Tech and educational publishing industries. She enjoys advocating for her community and sailing and hiking in the area.