Friends of Santa Teresa Park Meeting Summary for 5/6/04

  • Meeting attendees: 
    • FOSTP members and associates: Mike Boulland, Ronald Horii, Kitty Monahan, Mike and Holly Davis, Mario Blaum, Debi Falconio-Poras, Travis Falconio,  Dorothy Wuss, Lynnne Paulson, John Klimaszewski, Hazen Anderson, Janice Frazier
    • Officials and park representatives: Rachael Gibson, Ken Silveira, Roy Ichinaga
    • Community members: Lance Burrow, Cynthia Greenblatt, Dave & Pat Leiner, Georgia Bradley, Bart & Joan Berquist, Al & Rose Draeger, Rich & Rose Sanborn, Kathy Bennett, Matt Freeman, Gina Turner
  • This was a special meeting with a large community turnout because of concerns about access to the former Buck Norred Ranch, now the Mounted Ranger Unit. There were residents of the neighborhood near the Mounted Ranger Unit who had concerns about problems caused by increased usage of the park and Coyote-Alamitos Canal next to their houses. Other members of the community were concerned about restrictions on neighborhood access to the park. Rachel Gibson from Supervisor Don Gage's office gave the County's perspective and plans. Roy Ichinaga gave his perspectives as a trail lead. Members of the Santa Teresa Foothills Neighborhood Association were also there. (Note: there was a lot of discussion back and forth. This page is a summary of that discussion.)
  • See here for pictures of the areas in question: the Coyote-Alamitos Canal, the Bear Tree Lot, the Pyzak Ranch, Curie Drive, the paddock on Curie and San Ignacio, the Bonetti House, the Buck Norred Ranch buildings, the Mounted Ranger Facility, and the Mine Trail.
  • Ron Horii read the minutes from the March meeting.
  • One item from the last meeting was that the Boy Scouts were not allowed to have another campout at Santa Teresa. It was not clear why. Parking and trampling on sensitive areas may have been a concern. The Boy Scouts district is now split, so there would be less scouts this time. Ken Silveira will ask Jeff Sewell about it.
  • There's $696.95 left in the account.
  • Ron Horii showed slideshows of the Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch, the Coyote-Alamitos Canal to Santa Teresa Spring, the canal up to the closure above the Bear Tree Lot, the Bear Tree Lot, the Pyzak Ranch, the narrowing of Curie by the Pyzak Ranch, the Pedro Bernal/Bonetti house and the field below it, the canal and hills along Heaton Moor Drive, homes below the canal on Heaton Moor, the entrance to the Mounted Ranger Facility, and the canal levee from Bernal Road to the Mine Trail. He pointed out that the fences and signs (or lack of in certain places) along the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. He showed pictures of the Buck Norred Ranch buildings from 2001, when they were vandalized and covered with grafitti. He compared it to more recent pictures of the ranch, including those from the dedication ceremony. He pointed out that the Mine Trail comes down to the Buck Norred property below the Coyote-Alamitos Canal siphon. The trail has signs. At this point, the Coyote-Alamitos Canal is not fenced off or posted for no trespassing, unlike the canal to the west of the site. 
  • Mike Boulland described the goals of the meeting: to get a team together, list ideas and concerns, and report them back to the parks department. Senior Ranger Ken Silveira was there and will report back to assistant park director Joe Schultz. We would like to see some closure on these issues by the spring of next year.
  • Bear Tee Lot: Public access is currently restricted. 
  • The Pyzak Ranch house is a park employee residence. Access to the ranch grounds is also restricted.
  • Fence along the Pyzak Ranch: 
    • Eastbound Curie Drive narrows starting at the Bear Tree Lot, where the sidewalk turns into dirt. At the Pyzak Ranch, a wooden fence intrudes into the road, narrowing it considerably. Beyond that is a barbed wire fence surrounding the empty field that used to be a paddock. The narrowing of the road and the barbed wire fence are hazards to bicyclists and make it unsafe for pedestrians to use that side of the road. Bernal School is at the end of Curie, and experiences very heavy school traffic. 
    • We recommend moving the wooden fence and barbed wire fence back about 5 feet to improve access and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. There is no need for a barbed wire fence any longer, but the neighbors would like to see the lot maintain a country-like atmosphere, so a split-rail fence would be the best. 
    • The corner field at San Ignacio and Curie is currently empty, but plans call for a parking lot to go in here eventually. This could provide parking for a trail access and for the Pyzak Ranch/Bear Tree Lot once they are developed into interpretive areas.
  • Buck Norred Ranch/Mounted Ranger Unit
    • Buck Norred sold his property about 11 years ago. (The County no longer refers to it as the Buck Norred Ranch, except informally. It is officially called the Mounted Ranger Unit.)  In 1992, the subdivision was established along the ranch property below the Coyote-Alamitos Canal. The property owners own the land for some 300 feet into the lot, which includes the canal and about 20 feet up the hill above it, though this varies. The property line of the lot on the west corner of Brockenhurst Drive also includes part of the road going up the hill. 
    • The neighbors below the canal have complained about people trespassing on the canal levee and causing problems, such as littering and throwing rocks into their yards. They do not like the loss of privacy due to their property being visible from the canal levee They have been disturbed in early mornings by the noise made by users of the canal levee.
    • Only the Santa Clara Valley Water District has an easement to access the canal and levee. The canal was used for flood retention up until the 1960's. In the 1970's, better drainage in the valley prevented homes from getting flooded, so the Water District abandoned the use of the canal for flood control. However, they maintained access easements. In other areas where the canal runs, private property stops at the canal. The Buck Norred area is the only location where the private property lines from the houses below include the canal and go up on the other side.
    • Several community members attending said they avoid trespassing on the canal because they respect private property, but they have been accessing the park trails from Brockenhurst Drive by going to the left at the entrance and going up the Mine Trail and want to continue to do so.
    • Brockenhurst Drive is not, has never been, and is not planned to be an official park entrance. It is an old driveway between houses that was used to access buildings on the Buck Norred property. It is not in the Master Plan as a trail entrance. (The Master Plan was written before the Buck Norred property was acquired by the County.) If park rangers see people using the entrance, they can be told not to use it. Technically, park rangers can cite people using routes that are not official trails or being in areas that are not open to the public. 
    • Mario Blaum mentioned that the entrance to Santa Teresa Spring in front of his house on Manlia Drive is not on the park Master Plan either and said that if rangers were to cite people entering the park at Brockenhurst, they should also cite people entering Santa Teresa Spring from the entry below it.
    • The neighbors said that that usage of the Brockenhurst entrance has increased since parking machines were installed in the Pueblo Area. People are entering the park from below to avoid paying parking fees on top. There was a general consensus by community members that they would like to see the parking fees removed. They said it has inhibited frequent casual use of the park by families and by nearby workers for picnic lunches. Given the county's budget situation, dropping the fees might be difficult.
    • The neighbors also mentioned that use of the Brockenhurst entry has increased since the Mounted Ranger Unit was installed.
    • Usage of parks in general has increased because of population increases.
    • Neighbors were concerned about people parking on Brockenhurst Drive and Heaton Moor by those wanting to access the park. There was some discussion about issuing neighborhood parking permits. Many of the neighbors in attendance said they walked to the park from their homes. (Roy Ichinaga said that the neighbors around the McAbee entrance to Almaden Quicksilver have been complaining about people parking in the streets of their neighborhood. Rachael Gibson said the parks recognized this and would be buying the property next to the entrance to provide parking.) 
    • There were also concerns about parking at the Bernal Road entrance to the park. The area near the fence at the entrance to the park is now a "no parking" area, so people must park along the nearby streets. There is a flat area just beyond the entrance that could be used for a parking lot. We would not want to have an entry fee station there though. (Bernal Road is also used to access the IBM Research Center and the Muriel Wright Center.)
    • The community wants access to the Santa Teresa Park Trails. The neighbors near the Brockenhurst gate agree that the community should have access to the trails. They just want their property rights and privacy respected.
    • Holly Davis recommended not closing off access until there is an alternative.
    • Rachael Gibson talked about how plans are in the works to provide an alternative trail to access the Mine Trail. The trail will start from the bottom of the Mine trail, will run around the edges of the valley behind the Mounted Ranger Unit and out the other side. It will then go over the hills and end up at the Pyzak Ranch. There will be a staging area at the Pyzak Ranch. A trail planner will need to be assigned to work on the trail. There are lots of steps to go through to make it happen, but they hope to have it done by next spring.
    • The community does not want this staging area to be a fee area (which would just cause people to park on the neighborhood streets to avoid the fees).
    • Equestrian access to the trails is also a concern. [So is bicycle access. The Mine Trail is a bicycle route.]
    • Ron Horii pointed out that the Coyote Alamitos Canal levee has no "keep out" signs or fences to prevent entry between Bernal Road and Buck Norred's, just "no vehicles signs" and is a frequently-used unofficial tral route. (One of the neighbors pointed out that fences are frequently torn down and signs removed.) The canal levee above the houses to the west has just a SCVWD sign, which may lead people to believe that it has the same status as the canal levee on the other side. The neighbors said that "private property" signs have been posted in the past, but keep getting torn down. They said that the county will be putting a fence above the canal along the private property line to discourage entry. 
    • Ron suggested that the neighbors organize a trail watch or neighborhood/trail watch committee to help police the canal area and report trouble-makers to the authorities.
    • The neighbors said they have had problems getting law enforcement to respond to problems on the canal. The park rangers do not have jurisdiction, since it is private property. The county sheriff will not respond, since it is under San Jose city jurisdiction. The San Jose police will not respond quickly unless there are serious problems. It was pointed out that in order to access the private property along the canal, people would  have to cross through county park property, which would be in the jurisdiction of the park rangers.
  • Nancy Ray from the Bonetti Family wrote recommending that we recognize the previous owners of the historical properties in the park when naming them:
    • The Pyzak Ranch house was Jacoba Bernal's House, built by Pedro Bernal, later occupied by the Fishers, the Browns, then Pyzak.
    • The house across from Bernal School, was built by Pedro Bernal, then occupied by the Bonetti Family.
    • The ranch house at the Mounted Ranger Unit was owned by the Herschel Johnson Family, then the Andersens, then Buck Norred.
  • FOSTP Volunteer Hours for March-April:
    • Kitty Monahan: 8
    • Holly Davis: 16
    • Riley Davis: 16
    • Madeline Davis: 4
    • Ron Horii: 112
    • Mike Boulland: 40
    • Hazen Anderson: 25
    • Lynne Paulson: 4
    • John Klimaszewski: 4
    • Ronald Horii: 112 (17 in Santa Teresa Park)



      Ronald Horii, 

    Secretary, Friends of Santa Teresa Park 
    (End of meeting summary)

Summary of recommendations (the following is from Mike Boulland):

  • Create a formal staging area connected to the Mine Trail across from Bernal School.
    • Use the empty lot.
    • Adjust the fence line to provide more room on Curie Drive.
    • Use split-rail fence.
    • Keep the country look on the corner. Don’t make it a city parking lot (in appearance).
    • Connect a trail to the other park areas from the lot across from Bernal School. – Connection around the Mounted Patrol Unit, Bear Tree lot, Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Site, etc.
    • Do not make the parking lot a destination point where a fee is charged.
    • The new trail would be above the property owners' land. 
  • Allow the MPU entrance open for neighborhood use. Do not close off anything unless there is an agreed-upon alternative. 
    • Do not mark for public entrance on park maps.
    • Similar entrance as in front of Santa Teresa Springs.
    • Respect private property owners land. No access onto their property.
    • Control parking on Heaton Moor by signage showing parking down the street at the corner of Curie and San Ignacio. 
  •  Develop/expand a joint Department/Neighborhood Park Watch program that will be eyes for the rangers, police, and sheriff’s to protect the park from:
    • Vandals throwing garbage.
    • Trespassing.
    • Kids walking from school in the park.
  • Identify private property area with signage.
  • Allow widening Curie Drive by moving the fences at the Pyzak Ranch back 5 feet.
  • Remove parking fees from the Pueblo Area.
  • Provide an alternate trail, entrance, and staging area to access the Mine Trail at the Mounted Patrol Unit..
Note: The group wants a neighborhood access to the Mounted Patrol Unit the way it was before the issue. I see the building of the new parking lot as a solution to decreasing the demand at the MPU entrance. My statement during the meeting was, “We want to keep the entrance to MPU the same as it was before this issue.” 

The group is planning to re-address the three points during our June FOSTP meeting. I told the members we will hear back from the Parks Department with some ideas that address the MPU entrance, parking lot, and the new trail. 

Also, I understand that the Mine Hill trail is the connecting trail for the National De Anza trail. This will be a major link in the National Trail system. 

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Created 5/11/2004, updated 5/17/04 by Ronald Horii, secretary of the Friends of Santa Teresa Park