Friday, November 7, 2008

Another Election Victory for Ultra Trail Running

In addition to all the national and California issues and races on the ballot, I was eager to see the results of one local measure receiving much less press coverage.  As an ultrarunning trail enthusiast, I was relieved that Alameda and Contra Costa County Measure WW passed with 72% of the ballots cast.  This measure was a half-billion dollar 20-year bond extension to fund further acquisition and development of parks and trails for the East Bay Regional Park District. There was organized opposition from the usual "all taxes are evil" crowd, and one pathetic website seemed to be spearheaded by a bunch of anonymous disgruntled mountain bikers, who used specious arguments and took pictures of cow manure piles in the beautiful Chabot Regional Park where I often run as examples of why voters should reject the measure.  Sorry, I enjoy running through Grass Valley, even with the cows.  Despite the fact that this measure will result in a lot of cool mountain bike trails.

As a homeowner, I am more than happy to continue to pay $10 per $100,000 of the assessed value of my home (more than I could sell it for) each year.  I won't whine too much that renters don't have to pay this tax.  Had voters during the Great Depression not approved a property tax measure the East Bay Parks would never have been formed.  From the ultrarunning perspective, great runs like Firetrails 50 Mile, Skyline 50k and Ohlone Wilderness 50k Run would never have been possible.  Voters approved a similar measure, AA, in 1988, with tangible results improving the quality of life for everyone in the area.  Had Measure WW been shot down, I would be extremely depressed.

Here's some of the improvements resulting from the measure:
  • Completion of the (mostly southern parts) of the Bay Trail so it runs continously from Martinez to Fremont
  • East Bay Greenway Trail to run from Richmond to Fremont along the BART line
  • The completion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail through Palomares Ridge, connecting Anthony Chabot in Castro Valley and Garin/Dry Creek Park in Hayward/Union City, and further south to Mission Peak.  Also completion of the the northern segment at Wildcat Canyon Park up to the Carquinez Strait.  End result:  continuous trail from the Carquinez Strait to Mission Peak
  • Completion of parallel trail segments in the I-680 corrider resulting in continous trail from Carquinez Strait to Sunol.  This includes connection to Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, which I think has some of the best and most beautiful trail running in the East Bay.
In other words, completion of 4 parallel trail segments running north to south in the East Bay.

In addition, a trail running from Dublin to Mount Diablo, and a trail connecting Garin to Pleasanton Ridge.  

The measure includes a total of 67 projects.

Of course, no instant gratification here-- these improvement will take years to happen.  But inevitably some of the new trails will give way to some great trail ultras in the years to come.  I've already got some great ideas, so once I hit retirement, assume I'll be founding race director of at least one....  ; )


Greg said...

Thanks for posting that info. My in-laws live in the East Bay and every time I visit I salivate over the great urban and open-space trails in the area. I'm glad that the tradition is continuing.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome! The willingness of people to put up money for parks and open space is a great litmus test for the liveability of an area and you definitely live in a great spot.

coloradotrailrunner said...

It is good to know other communities are looking out for their openspaces and are willing to put money forward for trails and such. In the long run this should drive up your home's worth, making it worth while for everyone.

Baldwyn said...

Thanks for the great summary, Mark. Some day, I'll post my ode to the trails in the Bay Area I regularly run, and all the fantastic running I get to do from my front door step, or over lunch at work. And I'm thankful that trail running has revealed this all to me.

Lloyd said...

Thanks for the story. Though I now live in NE Ohio, I grew up near Garin Park and each time I visit I run up there. That would be great to head east to Pleasanton or north to Lake Chabot from South Hayward.