The Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) held a special Board meeting tonight. The topic was the Mt. Umunhum Cleanup and Restoration Project. This was the first official step in the long process of opening Mt. Umunhum to public access.
Over the last few months MROSD staff has held several events at which they gathered public input and refined their concept of what might be developed at Umunhum. Their current thinking is available in the documents at their website.
Tonight’s Board meeting wasn’t to approve those plans, exactly. Rather, tonight the MROSD Board approved a very generic “Project Description” document which describes, at an extremely high level, what the project might include. The Board action gave the MROSD Staff and their consultants approval to start preparing a draft Environmental Impact Report, describing what impacts would be involved in various development items at Umunhum. The idea at this stage of the project is for the draft EIR to include estimates of the impacts for all alternatives that the Board might later want to consider. Once the EIR is available (in April) then MROSD Staff and the Board will further refine the specific plans for Umunhum, with a better idea of the environmental impact (and thus costs) of their decisions.
So tonight’s vote helped to decide what the project is – and isn’t – but only at the very highest levels. For example, a big Visitor Center and Museum isn’t included in the Project Description, so the environmental costs of such a thing won’t be assessed. That makes it unlikely that such a Visitor Center could be added to the project at a later date, since it would require a whole new EIR. But whether parking lots hold 10 cars or 20 – and even more significant choices – aren’t yet made, and won’t be for many months.
My guess is that over 100 members of the public came to the meeting, and at least 20 spoke to the Board. I was one of them. Anyone who wanted to talk was given 3 minutes. I talked about how important I thought access to Umunhum was, in particular for regional trail connections to the Bay Area Ridge Trail and of course for Umunhum To The Sea. I also spoke in favor of the inclusion of a campground in the plan, since an earlier speaker from San Jose Water Company spoke against it.
At the end of the meeting the Board approved the Project Description prepared by Staff. They also directed Staff to consider some additional shuttle options for getting folks to the summit, and to consider some additional funding mechanisms.
SO … what happened tonight? Well, the Umunhum Cleanup project officially started! That’s what!
And … “Umunhum To The Sea” was officially included! It’s not guaranteed to be in the project, of course. But this is a case where I think it’s safe to say “if you’re out … you’re OUT”, and Umunhum To The Sea is positively NOT out! That’s all I wanted to accomplish for this phase of the project.
MROSD staff will work on the draft EIR, and will present it to the public and the Board in April 2011. At that time they will also refine the proposal, eliminating some options, tweaking others, and giving a much more specific proposal to the Board for their consideration.
So in April we’ll get a much better idea of what they have in mind. Between now and then things will go a little quiet … but there will be lots of activity under the covers.
Thank You to everyone who commented on the Umunhum project – and of course to those who support Umunhum To The Sea!