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August 9, 2018

Mark Mesiti-Miller
Friends of the Rail Trail
877 Cedar Street, Suite 240
Santa Cruz, California, 95060

Subject: Greenway’s Capitola Corridor Initiative Measure

Dear Mr. Mesiti-Miller:

This letter is in response to your June 11, 2018 letter regarding the “Greenway Capitola Corridor” initiative measure (Initiative) which apparently recently met the required number of signatures to qualify for a ballot measure. The Initiative would amend Chapter 8.72 of the City of Capitola Municipal Code for the stated purpose to “improve safety and reduce traffic by keeping the Monterey Bay Scenic Trail (Trail) in the Santa Cruz Branch Line Corridor (Corridor) within the City of Capitola while protecting the Capitola Trestle (Trestle).” Your letter requests that our office review the Initiative’s proposed amendments to Chapter 8.72 for potential conflicts with the existing provisions of Capitola’s certified Local Coastal Program (LCP). As discussed in more detail below, we do not believe the proposed initiative conflicts with the City’s LCP.[1]

First, please note that Chapter 8.72 is not, nor is it proposed to be by the Initiative, part of the City’s LCP. Accordingly, the proposed Initiative, were it to pass, would not require approval from the Coastal Commission, and would not change the LCP. Thus, the primary remaining question raised by your letter is whether the Initiative’s proposed amendments to Chapter 8.72 would conflict with existing provisions of the City’s LCP.

The Initiative’s implementation components, found in Section 8.72.040, constitute its core directive, and provide as follows:

A. The City of Capitola, through its constituent departments, shall take all steps necessary to preserve and utilize the Corridor and Trestle for active transportation and recreation.

B. No City of Capitola department, agency, or employee shall expend any funds or resources related to the construction, reconstruction, operation, maintenance, financing, marketing, or signage for a detour of the Trail onto Capitola streets or sidewalks.

Importantly, the Initiative also provides at Section 8.72.060 that “[a]doption of this chapter by the people shall not be construed as amending any provisions of the general plan, local coastal program or zoning ordinance, but rather shall be construed and harmonized in a manner to strengthen and define such provisions.” Thus, the core provision of the Initiative appears to require the City to preserve and utilize the Corridor and Trestle for active transportation and recreation, and preclude the City from expending any funding or resources to redirect the “Trail” onto Capitola streets or sidewalks. While the Initiative does not expressly define the term “Trail” it appears to refer specifically to the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail (MBSST) as indicated in the “Purpose” section (Section 8.72.010).

While your letter does not reference any specific policies of the LCP which may be implicated by the Initiative, the following appear to be most relevant:

Policy 1-1 It shall be the policy of the City of Capitola to maintain and enhance access to Capitola Beach, Village, and Wharf while maintaining and enhancing the existing character of Capitola Village and the surrounding residential areas...

Policy 11-1 It shall be the policy of the City of Capitola to provide safe and adequate pedestrian access to and along the shoreline as designated in the Shoreline Access Plan.

Policy 11-4 Provide for a safe pedestrian and bicycle path and/or sidewalk on or along Cliff Drive, and provide improvements including landscaping, benches, etc., and parking turn-out areas to facilitate both pedestrian and auto use.

Policy 11-5 Obtain agreement from Southern Pacific and improve parking area on inland side ofCliff Drive within Southern Pacific and Cliff Drive rights of-way. This is intended to add to Wharf user parking.

Policy 11-12 Develop a scheme for safe bicycle connection between Cliff Drive and Park Avenue and improve bicycle parking facilities.

The above-referenced policies generally require the City to maximize public access and recreational opportunities, including pedestrian and bicycle access, to and along the City’s shoreline in a safe and aesthetically appropriate manner.

In reviewing the Initiative’s implementation provisions against the policies, we do not necessarily see a conflict between the two. Rather, it appears that the Initiative is directed primarily at limiting the City’s ability to fund redirection of the MBSST out of the Corridor and through the Village area. The fact that the Initiative may prohibit allocation of resources for a specific project (detour of the scenic trail onto Capitola streets or sidewalks), whereas the relevant LCP policies are generally permissive and encourage allocation of resources for Village pedestrian and bikeway improvements, does not, in our view, create an LCP inconsistency. Of course, we recognize that this may present practical funding obstacles for the City to provide trails both through the City as well as across the Trestle, but it is not a de facto LCP inconsistency or conflict.

In sum we would not interpret the Initiative language to prevent the City from providing much needed safe bicycle and/or pedestrian access from Cliff Drive, through the Village core, and up to Park Avenue, or otherwise. Rather, it appears that the Initiative language solely limits the City’s ability to fund redirection of the main MBSST line specifically, while still being able to fund bike and pedestrian improvements elsewhere in the City, including related to the California Coastal Trail.

Should you wish to discuss this matter in more detail, please feel free to contact me.


Ryan Moroney
District Supervisor
Central Coast District Office

cc: Jamie Goldstein, City of Capitola
      George Dondero, RTC Executive Director

[1] We are aware that the City is involved in litigation with the Initiative sponsor regarding the legality of the Initiative, and this letter is not intended to provide a legal opinion as to that question.

  1. Regarding above note [1]: Greenway Capitola prevailed in court and the judge ruled that the Initiative should be placed on the ballot.

  2. Download the Original Letter (Some browsers may not properly display the letter. Download the letter and open it in a PDF viewer like Adobe Acrobat.)