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Los Altos Hills delays Stanford trail decision

The Los Altos Hills City Council has decided to delay the approval of a trail project funded by Stanford University, following objections from the surrounding community. The University offered Los Altos Hills $1.05 million worth of trail improvements in an effort to satisfy an agreement with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors concerning its General Use Permit (GUP).

The GUP stipulates that the University must build or improve a number of trails in exchange for permission to expand the campus. To meet this requirement, Stanford seeks to improve the so-called “C1” trails along Alpine Road, which run through Portola Valley and unincorporated San Mateo County, as well as the Arastradero Road or “S1” trail, which runs through Los Altos Hills.

The University has sent letters offering up to $8.4 million to San Mateo County and $2.8 million to the town of Portola Valley to fix the Alpine Road trail in addition to the Los Altos Hills offer. Both the C1 and S1 trails cross Stanford property at several points.

Of the three offers, the one to Los Altos Hills has created the most controversy among residents, who fear that improving the trail would bring more traffic to the area and lead to an increase in accidents.

University representatives were also present at the March 17 city council meeting, where they said they would return with more designs for a proposed retaining wall in response to some residents’ criticisms.

Town officials intend to discuss the project with neighborhood groups in the coming weeks and months.

“We want to meet the concerns of the neighbors, and many of their concerns are very legitimate,” said Los Alto Hills Mayor Ginger Summit in a March 18 interview with the San Jose Mercury News. “They brought some things to our attention that we had noticed, but hadn’t really addressed, so we will be addressing those.”

The city council is expected to revisit the topic in a few months, after the town does “more homework,” Summit said.

“We are working closely with Stanford, and Stanford now has shown up at two public hearings,” Summit said. “So they understand the voice of the residents, which I think they never really understood before.”

–Ivy Nguyen and Tyler Brown