Friends of Arana Gulch

The Broadway-Brommer
Bicycle/Pedestrian Path Connection

Project Overview

In 2002, the City of Santa Cruz proposed a transit project, the "Broadway-Brommer Bicycle/Pedestrian Path Connection," named after the two roads it would connect. This project would have bisected the Arana Gulch Greenbelt parcel lying between the two roads.

The acquisition of the Arana Gulch Greenbelt property, as well as the acquisition of 3 other municipal Greenbelt properties, was authorized by the approval of Measure 0 by local voters in 1979. Citizens reconfirmed the significance of acquiring the designated parcels, including Arana Gulch, as Open Space, when they approved Measure I in 1992.

The Arana Gulch Greenbelt lies entirely within the permit jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission, and is designated as sensitive habitat. The City's General Plan requires that a Master Plan for the entire Arana Gulch Greenbelt property be prepared in advance of any project. In addition, the City's General Plan is presently not in conformance with the adopted local coastal plan; the LCP shows Arana Gulch Greenbelt as Open Space. The proposed project also contains several CEQA and ESA violations. These violations are at the core of the project, and will not be changed or mitigated in the Final EIR, so the preparation of the final EIR will not result in an acceptable project.

Approximately 1/3 of the Arana Gulch Greenbelt is wetland and riparian vegetation. Arana Creek is a perennial stream, providing habitat to three Federally Endangered species: steelhead trout, coho salmon, and tidewater goby. The entire 67.7 acres have been designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as Critical Habitat for the Santa Cruz Tarplant, Holocarpha macradenia, a federally Threatened and California Endangered species. The upper meadow area is designated as an Environentally Sensitive Habiotat Area by the California Coastal Commission.

Procedural history

A connection between Broadway and Broadway was studied in the 1970s as a proposed motor vehicle roadway. This motor vehicle roadway project was stopped and in 1991 it was changed to a bicycle/pedestrian roadway. The County secured funding through the ISTEA program to complete the portion of the project that falls within the county limits. In 1995, The City became the lead agency in under CEQA responsible for the Broadway-Brommer project.

The Notice of Preparation for the Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Pedestrian Path Connection was published in the Fall of 1998 and received many negative comments. Despite this, the City continued with the project. The Draft EIR was published in November of 1999. A Public Hearing was held on December 12, 1999 and public comments were accepted until January 1, 2000. The Public Works department expected around 100 comments and was overwhelmed with more than 630 comments. There were so many comments, the City did not have sufficient funding to complete the Final EIR.

The project was discussed by the City Transportation Commission for several months and they eventually voted 4-2 to recommend that the city spend an additional $40,000 to complete the Final EIR. This was beyond the amount previously allocated for this phase and beyond the $360,000 already spent on the project. The City Parks and Recreation Department voted unanimously against any further funding on this project due to its environmental impact. On May 9, 2000, the City Council voted 5-2 to fund the additional $40,000 to complete the Final EIR.

This bicycle/pedestrian project contained two "build" alternatives, named the A1 and D2 alignments, and the required Alternative #3 "No Action." The two "build" alternatives proposed the following:

  • Bisect Arana Gulch Open Space and coastal prairie habitat by constructing a 12' Class 1 bikepath across the middle of the parcel and the middle of the designated Tarplant habitat. The proposed asphalt "bikeroad" and required bridges would have to be capable of supporting emergency vehicles. Both alternatives proposed in this project would bisect Tarplant habitat, and no site is available as mitigation.

  • On the West end, near Broadway, both alternatives require a 450 foot long, 3-span prefabricated steel truss bridge across Hagemann Gulch. The bridge would have a maximum height of 45 feet. Both ends of the bridge would be comprised of a large concrete deck, and construction of these decks and footings requires clearing 800 square feet of Coast Live Oak Forest in Hagemann Gulch, and other sensitive habitat. This bridge violates both the City's Riparian Setback Ordinance and the Heritage Tree Ordinance.
On the East-end, near Brommer, the two build alternatives vary in how they would span Arana Creek. A1 would construct a 740-foot long, 4-span cast-in-place pre-stressed concrete box girder bridge and have a maximum height of 52 feet. This alternative proposes to cross Arana Gulch completely by the bridge, whose visual impacts cannot be mitigated and whose safety is questionable. (There are no comparable height bridges). The D1 alternative would more closely follow the contours of the land, cutting North further into designated Tarplant habitat, and then arching East, carving into the East-facing hillside toward Arana Creek and requiring lengthy retaining walls to provide the 12' roadbed. Due to the degree of slope, a 5' "pull-out" every 30' would be required to comply with ADA standards. The bridge across Arana Creek in this alternative would be 130 feet long, and would also violate the City Riparian Setback Ordinance. It would have footings in the wetland and riparian habitats before passing over Arana Creek; both the construction process as well as the presence of the bridge footings will cause significant biological impacts to endangered species' habitat.

10/14/1997 - City council allocated an additional $30,000 to B-B project, and voted to restrict EIR to consideration of A1, D2, and no project.

5/9/2000 - City council voted to finish EIR, with the provision that no path be built until the Arana Gulch Master Plan is complete. City council also voted to move forward with a "three-pronged" approach to east-west bike connectivity, exploring: (a) bike lanes on Soquel Ave; (b) a ramp to Frederick St Park; (c) the rail-trail.

9/6/2001 - SCCRTC voted to withhold reimbursment of city expenditures to date on B-B project, unless city finishes EIR.

9/18/2001 - City council reaffirmed and filled in details in decision of 9/7/2000.

9/25/2001 - City council reaffirmed and filled in more details in decision of 9/7/2000.

6/12/2002 - CTC voted unanimously to move forward with the Frederick St Park ramp, and bike lanes on Soquel Ave.

9/11/2002 - CTC voted 5-1 to approve staff recommendation, directing the CTC's bike subcommittee to return to the full CTC in one month with a "strategy" to connect Broadway and Brommer with an "educational, environmentally sensitive" pathway.

3/25/2003 - City Council held a Public Hearing about the proposed Broadway-Brommer bikepath. Due to the overwhelming number of speakers, there was no time available for the Council to make a motion.

The Public Works department asked staff to

  • Certify that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is complete
  • Select the D2 Alignment as the Preferred option
  • Direct Staff to begin the next steps of the project
Many people spoke out against the D2 alignment due to environmental impact and cost. We asked the City Council to
  • Select the No Project Alternative (one of the 3 alternatives specified in the EIR)
  • Begin work on bikepaths that DO NOT bisect Arana Gulch, such as a ramp from Frederick Street Park.

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Last updated 4/15/16