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A plan for future walking and cycling projects in Scotts Valley — including a new vision for Scotts Valley Drive and Mount Hermon Road — is headed for an expected March 3 vote.

The city’s draft Active Transportation Plan aims to increase biking and walking by 20% and eliminate injuries to bikers and walkers through a set of project and policy recommendations. Approval of the plan would allow city leaders to apply for matching grants for bike and pedestrian projects, city staff said.

The city council gave input at its meeting Wednesday.

Much of the plan focused on the city’s main roads of Scotts Valley Drive and Mount Hermon Road in part because that’s where most bike and pedestrian collisions have been recorded in the city. It’s also where most public comments focused, said Amelia Conlen, planner for Ecology Action. Ecology Action, a Santa Cruz-based environmental nonprofit, led the planning process with help from Bike Santa Cruz County, Pleasanton-based transportation consultant TJKM, and city staff. The plan was funded by a Caltrans grant.

Options for Scotts Valley Drive included:

  • A reduction from five car lanes to three between Victor Square and Quien Sabe Road to make room for a striped bike lane buffer, trees along the street, sidewalk seating, benches and lighting. More study would be needed to pursue this option, Conlen said. A preliminary study of 2018 traffic data showed that lanes could be reduced in that section “without significant impacts,” Conlen said. 
  • A reduction in the width of the five car lanes to allow 11 feet for a wider sidewalk and a striped bike lane buffer or possible bollards, or plastic posts.
Concepts two and three show possible options for the future of Scotts Valley Drive in the draft Active Transportation Plan discussed Wednesday by the Scotts Valley City Council. (Ecology Action)

Options for Mount Hermon Road between Scotts Valley Drive and Lockewood Lane included:

  • Close the sidewalk gaps
  • Extend the curbs at intersections and create median islands to reduce crossing distance and increase walker visibility
  • Install pedestrian countdown clocks at signals

Across all of Mount Hermon Road, the plan recommended:

  • Short term: Reduce lane widths to allow a striped bike lane buffer with bollards
  • Long term: Maintain reduced lane widths and widen center median. Create a 4-foot landscaped strip between the sidewalk and bike lane.

About 16 residents spoke during public comment. Most urged the council to consider additional safety measures on Bluebonnet Lane such as narrowed car lanes, speed bumps and a bollard bike-lane buffer.

Elizabeth Johansen, a Bluebonnet Lane resident, asked the council to install bollards and narrow car lanes on her street.

“Bluebonnet is a natural speedway,” Johansen said. “It’s two blocks long. It’s wide. There’s no trees or shrubbery. There’s no crosswalks. There’s nothing else and it’s a hill. So there’s nothing to slow cars down. I mean, you have to be an angel not to speed.”

A diagram shows options for Bluebonnet Lane. (Ecology Action)

Scotts Valley Public Works Director Daryl Jordan said that the draft Active Transportation Plan does include bollards as an option for Bluebonnet Lane, even though bollards were not drawn in a diagram. Also, staff did not recommend placing bollards down the entire street, since it would block mail delivery trucks from some houses and create a “slalom course” for skateboarders, Jordan said.

Jordan said more options for Bluebonnet Lane included:

  • A traffic circle at the top of the hill
  • Four to six curb extensions into the street to slow traffic
  • Large speed bumps

“It’s not going to look like a solid row of one mitigation on each site,” Jordan said. “It’s going to be some here, some there — the pinch points where people are at risk. Maybe people coming out of a parking lot, or making a right turn is typically where you put these bollards on. We would look at that, implement them at those positions, but not necessarily through the entire corridor.”

The council did not vote on the plan Wednesday, but it directed staff to prepare for a vote on plan approval March 3. By consensus, the council directed staff to clarify in the plan the list of options for Bluebonnet Lane.

The draft plan also includes a prioritized project list.

The projects with the highest priority include:

  • New bike lanes at the Granite Creek Road overpass
  • New sidewalk at Scotts Valley Drive at Victor Square
  • Mount Hermon Road near Kings Village Road: Fill sidewalk gap
  • Scotts Valley Drive/Glenwood Drive/Hacienda Drive/ Highway 17: Modernize on- and off-ramps
  • Vine Hill School Road at Tabor Drive and Scotts Valley Drive: Upgrade crosswalks
  • Town Center property: Consider walk and bike connections between Skypark Drive and Kings Village Road, as well as between Skypark and Mount Hermon Road. 
The Scotts Valley City Council met Wednesday on Zoom. (Zoom screenshot)

Picketing law

Wednesday, the council unanimously advanced a new law that would prohibit “targeted picketing within 300 feet of the residence of a particular person,” according to the staff report. Targeted picketing is “picketing activity that is targeted at a particular residential dwelling and proceeds on a definite course or route in front of or around that particular residential dwelling,” according to the report.

Violations would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six month in prison. Vice Mayor Jim Reed asked the city attorney to propose the law. 

“It’s not because of what’s happening in Scotts Valley, but I’ve seen in my day job what’s happening in San Jose,” Reed said in the meeting. Reed is chief of staff for San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. 

“Mayor Liccardo in San Jose has been targeted for a number of protests. And I know, his perspective has been, ‘Hey I, arguably, I signed up for it. I’m the one who ran for office, but my neighbors don’t need to pay the price,’” Reed said.

“I asked this to come forward, not because of anything that I’ve heard might be happening in Scotts Valley — although as City Attorney (Kirsten) Powell points out — we have had one incident that I’m aware of approximately 15 years ago, of a very loud, very vocal protest and very late at night in front of the home of a council member,” Reed said.

Santa Cruz Local members, log in to listen to, read or search the audio and rough transcript of Wednesday’s Scotts Valley City Council meeting.

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Kara Meyberg Guzman is the CEO and co-founder of Santa Cruz Local. ​Prior to Santa Cruz Local, she served as the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s managing editor. She has a biology degree from Stanford University and lives in Santa Cruz.

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