NEWSLETTER. From the Midcoast Community Council (MCC) Fall Newsletter. “Background” by Gregg Dieguez, 9/12/22.
Residents in El Granada (EG) who use the 300 block of Avenue Portola to walk to and from the Post Office have complained of blockages on the right of way by some homeowners that force pedestrians to walk in the street, in a wet ditch, and/or into fast-moving traffic on that popular transit corridor. There have been falls and injuries reported, and several residents have asked the MCC to help solve the problem. The council discussed this matter at several meetings, including this summary from Sept. 14, and has had an ongoing dialog with County DPW.
DPW has stated that statutes regarding blocked sidewalks are complex and policy should be formulated with community support. DPW also cites a patchwork of EG development regulations, and the Code requirements (in the link above), which complicate any action and can involve special assessments.
Residents involved insist that in some cases there were pre-existing sidewalks – now overbuilt with planters, etc. – and that all the neighbors require is a clear walkway in the Right Of Way; they do not want unnecessary sidewalk expense or delay in remedying a safety hazard.
To move toward a solution on this matter, the MCC is offering to host a Community Workshop with DPW and interested EG residents regarding the subject block AND OTHER blocks in the community where residents desire safer walkways.
Residents in the 300 block of Avenue Portola are organizing a petition, and inviting residents who either live on that block and/or use that area of Avenue Portola to request action by DPW.
If you are interested in signing the petition, contact email@example.com .
If you have OTHER EG LOCATIONS where you believe either a sidewalk or an unobstructed walkway is merited, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject of “EG WALKWAY REQUEST”.
We will post a notice of the workshop on our website and in local media.
Background on Unsafe Sidewalk/Road Conditions in El Granada
Several EG residents state that:
a) There are few sidewalks in El Granada (about ¼ of all homes),
b) Consequently the ones they have are more heavily traveled by pedestrians and
c) These same roads also tend to be the major arteries for vehicles.
Unfortunately both vehicle and pedestrian traffic continues to grow and there are now pedestrian ‘choke points’ when cars are parked on both sides of the street where there are also blocked sidewalks.
This situation forces pedestrians to walk on the road and compete with autos, where there is already insufficient space for two cars to pass simultaneously.
This matter was brought to the Councils’ attention a few weeks ago, and residents attended 3 MCC meetings to voice their concerns.
Council members Dieguez and Olson met with several local residents on site, including some who had mobility issues.
Ave Portola One example of pedestrians feeling their lives are at risk on EG roads is on Ave Portola between Palma and Francisco streets. This street has a spring that creates a moss-filled irregular drainage ditch/gutter on the west side of the road year around. It is filled with slippery algae. There is almost a clear sidewalk from Francisco St. to the Post Office, except for blocked sidewalks fronting 3 houses on this portion of Avenue Portola. [Previously there were two other blockages to the sidewalk, but those homeowners responded to neighborhood requests by clearing vegetation and/or moving planter boxes off of the walkway].
Ave. Portola, in contrast with surrounding EG streets, is wider and has a partially straight gradual downhill stretch of road on the way to the Post Office [Much of EG does not have mail delivery, so the PO is a mandatory visit].
Nearby streets are either:
a) curvy and narrower,
b) not the most direct route to the P.O., and/or
c) humped like the Big Dipper Roller Coaster, where the driver cannot see the road below the hump.
As a result, drivers are more frequent, and faster, on this preferred stretch of road. Pictures of two examples of sidewalk blockages are attached:
A. 305 Ave Portola
1) This homeowner started their encroachment of the sidewalk with a 6ft high fence that overlaps on the first foot of the public sidewalk right of way. There is also supposed to be a survey to make sure that the fence does not encroach on the right of way. Did the County approve this encroachment, or has it not yet inspected here?
Then the owner planted trees, put succulents underfoot, and built rock piles. Slowly these plants made the sidewalk difficult to pass. And the rocks are an obvious tripping hazard.
B. 339 Ave Portola
2) This homeowner built a stone retaining wall over an uncracked, concrete sidewalk. When delivery trucks (which are increasingly frequent since the Pandemic) or cars park on Portola, pedestrians are forced to walk even further into the road to get around the sidewalk obstructions. Several elderly have slipped and slid to their knees in the moss filled gutter trying to scamper from the street to avoid passing vehicles. A disabled vet also reported having trouble being quick enough to avoid vehicles when forced to walk on the street – especially the new silent electric varieties. Another resident stated she had slipped on the mossy drainage ditch when forced to leave the sidewalk and had badly sprained her ankle.
Is there a county process for enforcing code that forbids blocking sidewalks, especially non-developed sidewalks; that is, areas between lots and streets that were never built of concrete?
What guidance dictates the situations where the County must act, either to physically remedy safety hazards and/or to compel property owners to do so?
One resident complains that 18 months has elapsed without action on a sidewalk obstruction complaint filed by 5 residents. [First email to Scott Burklin of DPW with pictures was March 01, 2019]
Khoa Vo has provided the following information regarding construction and maintenance of sidewalks and curbs, to begin a dialog explaining the complexities of this situation:
Construction of Sidewalks and Curbs and Maintenance of Sidewalks are identified in these sections from the CA Streets and Highway Code:
Division 7, Part 3, Chapter 22 – Maintenance of Sidewalks (Chapter 22 added by Stats. 1941, Ch. 79.)
Division 7, Part 3, Chapter 27 – Construction of Sidewalks and Curbs ( Chapter 27 added by Stats. 1945, Ch. 1339)
Assessment for the construction cost of sidewalks and curbs are shown in Section 5879.1.
1. 305 Ave Portola
2. 339 Ave Portola
There is a seat available on the Midcoast Community Council!
This is your opportunity to help influence the direction of our community.
To serve on the MCC, you must be a resident of the unincorporated Midcoast, that is, living in El Granada, Princeton, Moss Beach, Montara or the part of Miramar that is NOT in the Half Moon Bay City limits.
The vacant seat(s) will be appointed by Supervisor Mueller based on recommendation of the current Council.
Interested residents should write the MCC at email@example.com. Information on screening interviews will follow.
- Attend a virtual Midcoast Community Council Meeting, scheduled on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, or watch past meetings.
- Attend or live stream a virtual San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Meeting.
- Let us know how we can improve this newsletter by providing feedback and ideas here.
Thanks to exMCC’s Lisa Ketcham (now on the San Mateo County Planning Commission) for an incredibly well curated website archive on local planning issues.
Midcoast Community Council (MCC) is an elected Municipal Advisory Council to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, representing Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Princeton, and Miramar.
Regular MCC meetings are on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month at 7:00 PM at Granada Community Services District (GCSD) meeting room, 504 Ave Alhambra, third floor, El Granada. All MCC meetings are open to the public, and are agendized and posted according to the requirements of the Brown Act.
Agenda item supporting documents are available 72 hours in advance of meetings on http://www.MidcoastCommunityCouncil.org.
Minutes from previous meetings on http://www.midcoastcommunitycouncil.org/2017-2018/
To subscribe to MCC agendas via email, send email to MCC-Agendasfirstname.lastname@example.org
Midcoast Community Council 2022
Claire Toutant, Chair – Term Ends: Dec. 2022
Gregg Dieguez, Vice Chair – Term Ends: Dec. 2024
Len Erickson, Secretary – Term Ends: Dec. 2022
Michelle Weil, Treasurer – Term Ends: Dec. 2022
Dave Olson, Member – Term Ends: Dec. 2022
Jill Grant, Member – Term Ends: Dec. 2024
Dan Haggerty, Member – Term Ends: Dec. 2024
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