SCOTTS VALLEY >> Scotts Valley has a new plan for future walking and cycling projects, including a new vision for Scotts Valley Drive and Mount Hermon Road.

The Scotts Valley City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the city’s Active Transportation Plan. It 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. Wednesday’s approval came after a survey and months of workshops, committee meetings and public hearings.

“I do want to throw the note of caution out that while there’s a lot of great thinking and intriguing ideas to get us all excited [in the plan], what there’s not is a funding plan to go with it,” said Vice Mayor Jim Reed.

Reed said city staff have pursued grants diligently, but “those tend to be tiny chunks of money.” The city has struggled to provide basic services due to a funding shortfall, Reed said.

“This is vision. This is possibility,” Reed said of the active transportation plan. “This is something that will inform some of those decisions. But these are not decisions to spend public money on these things.”

The plan 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.

Most of the plan focused on the city’s main roads of Scotts Valley Drive and Mount Hermon Road, where most bike and pedestrian collisions have been reported in the city.

More study and public input is needed to pursue any projects, including any options for Scotts Valley Drive or Mount Hermon Road, city leaders have said.

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.
  • 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 Active Transportation Plan approved 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 eight people spoke during public comment, most of them Bluebonnet Lane residents who worried about bike and pedestrian safety on their street. Most were supportive of parts of the plan that called for safety measures such as bollards and a traffic circle on Bluebonnet Lane.

The Scotts Valley City Council unanimously approved the Active Transportation Plan on Wednesday. (Zoom screenshot)

Food waste pickup

In a study session Wednesday, the council heard about a recent state law that will require cities to provide organic waste collection. The council took no action, but discussed the need for new city laws and a likely increased waste collection cost for ratepayers. 

State law SB 1383 requires that cities:

  • Provide organic waste collection to all residents and businesses
  • Divert unsold edible food from restaurants and groceries to food banks and soup kitchens instead of landfills
  • Collect compost, mulch and renewable natural gas 

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2022 and includes penalties for noncompliance.

City leaders will need to negotiate a new waste management contract. Scotts Valley, like Capitola and unincorporated Santa Cruz County, has a contract with San Jose-based hauler GreenWaste Recovery, Inc.

Scotts Valley residential customers are billed quarterly. Residents pay $15 to $68 per month for garbage, recycling and yard waste pickup.

It is still unclear how much rates will increase for customers. Rates are set by GreenWaste, not the city, said City Attorney Kirsten Powell.

“Our staff will be working with the hauler obviously to keep those rates as low as possible,” Powell said. 

City resumes facility rentals

In other news, city staff have reopened rentals of facilities such as picnic areas in parks, City Manager Tina Friend announced Wednesday.

Gatherings and events are allowed in city parks with a maximum of three households, Friend said. 

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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.