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North Crestview Park Community Workshop

The Controversial North Crestview Park Plan – Community Workshop

March 13 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

2023: North Crestview Park Plan gets Revived

On January 27, 2023, City Council held the annual Strategic Planning Retreat to discuss the City’s mission, vision and core values, review strategic goals and objectives, and to consider new priority areas for the upcoming year. Through City Council conversations, a new goal of “Recreational Opportunities” was discussed and added as a goal for 2023.

Under this goal, three objectives were identified, with one goal to complete a new master plan for North Crestview Park to explore additional recreational opportunities at this site.

Let’s create the future of North Crestview Park together

The San Carlos community is invited to attend the next community workshop meeting to discuss the future of North Crestview Park (located across the street from Vista Park at 401 Crestview Drive).

Date: Wednesday, March 13
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: San Carlos Library, 2nd Floor Community Room located at 610 Elm Street

The City has begun the master planning process for North Crestview Park and is hosting this upcoming meeting to continue to obtain comments and ideas from the community on improvements for this park.

North Crestview Park Beverly Terrace San Carlos CA 94070

Read below to know more about the history of debates regarding North Crestview Park since 2017…

San Carlos to study North Crestview Park — again

Residents back previous plan to keep area largely untouched, council commits $200K

This late 2023, the San Carlos City Council agreed to spend $200,000 on a new study of North Crestview Park, a 5-acre undeveloped piece of open space, sparking dissent from nearby residents who argue the city had previously agreed to leave the area largely untouched.

In a 4-0 vote, with Councilmember Sara McDowell absent, the council agreed to allocate up to $200,000 toward hiring a contractor who will lead the city’s New North Crestview Park Master Plan. Once the contractor is selected, the city expects the study to come before the council by fall of 2024.

A master plan process for North Crestview was completed in 2017 and included minor park improvements that are regarded as passive uses, such as improved pathways, picnic tables, a meadow, benches, and a service dog memorial monument. No other recreational amenities, nor parking, were included in the previous plan.

“San Carlos to Study North Crestview Park – again” from the San Mateo Daily Journal 2023

2017 North Crestview Park Plan

North Crestview Plan Summary Report 2017, from the City of San Carlos


Project Background

For many years now the City of San Carlos has made a concerted effort to address deficiencies in the availability of recreation and open space opportunities for its citizens. Sites that currently serve the community are at their carrying capacity and the few remaining undeveloped parcels have constraints that tend to limit their potential.

In 2015 the City embarked on a study of four sites referred to as Black Mountain, Vista del Grande, Rollieri and North Crestview. The focus of the study became the Black Mountain, Vista Del Grande and Rollieri properties as, although they did not belong to the City, they appeared to possess the most potential to address the shortage of park space, and purchasing the property would prevent their development and corresponding loss of opportunity to accommodate future park needs.

The acquisition of the parcel would only be possible with community consent and so bond Measure V went on the November 3, 2015 ballot. The ballot sought a property tax that would be used to repay the Bond. The ballot measure would have required a 2/3rds majority to pass but was defeated. At this point, attention shifted to the North Crestview site.

The Site

The North Crestview site is approximately 3 acres in size and is located at the highest point in San Carlos. It commands sweeping views of San Francisco Bay and the hills beyond as well as views of the coastal range across I-280 and the SFPUC holdings to the west.

The site slopes from west to east, with a total of approximately 50 feet of grade change across the site. The site fronts on Crestview Drive and a visitor is presented with a steep slope for the first third of the site that makes up about 30 feet of the overall 50 feet of grade differential. The crest of this slope prevents views to the back of the site from the street.

The site is bounded by homes to the north and south and by SFPUC lands to the west. The site was a canine training facility during WWII but has been undeveloped ever since and no traces of the prior uses can be found. The site is covered with native and non-native species and is largely mixed grasslands with some minor stands of pine and oak.

The Dusky Footed Wood rat is a known resident (see environmental doc.) and the site is regularly visited by a significant variety of wildlife. The site is also known to possess areas of remnant coastal prairie. The presence of the rats and prairie must be factored into any plans for the development of the site but neither constitutes an unmitigatable condition.

The Process

To evaluate the potential of the site to accommodate park use, a number of strategies were employed. These included; site visits, a cursory environmental evaluation (impacts summarized above), a series of meetings with City staff and extensive polling of the community through 2 community meetings, 3 Park and Recreation Commission meetings and 2 City Council meetings.

These meetings were held over the span of just over a year, starting in January of 2016 and concluding in February of 2017. During this time a number of alternatives were explored that illustrated a spectrum of uses from highly active (able to accommodate programmed uses) to highly passive (site left largely untouched).

The majority opinion expressed throughout the process favored passive uses and ultimately a passive use of the site was approved by Council.

The Plan

The passive use concept includes a variety of trails that allow for users of all abilities. A service road that utilizes an abandoned roadbed allows emergency, law enforcement and park maintenance vehicles to surmount the steep front slope. The service road terminates at an overlook that would feature a Service Dog memorial. A separate accessible path of travel to this location would be provided from Crestview Drive.

Trails emanate from the memorial location and invite visitors to circulate through the site. Benches are spaced at intervals along the trail to allow for rest and contemplation and a meadow is proposed as a provision of a broad open area where larger groups might congregate for informal play, picnics and other casual uses. Some minor tree plantings are proposed to provide shade. Fences between the park and the adjacent homes will minimize the potential of trespass and help preserve the privacy of the property owners.


Wildlife Protection Concerns

North Crestview Park is a 4-acre site reputed to be the highest point in the city of San Carlos, offering stunning views both west to the Santa Cruz Mountains and east to the Bay and the East Bay hills. North Crestview Park is also a local wildlife corridor, located at the juncture between Devonshire Canyon and the vast acreage of the San Francisco Watershed that encompasses the Crystal Springs reservoirs and thousands of acres of open space.

Crestview Drive, at the far western edge of San Carlos, forms a barrier between these two open space areas, and North Crestview Park is one of the few open areas where animals can safely get through.

Thanks to the San Carlos City Council and local residents who joined us in speaking up on behalf of this park earlier this year, it will now continue to serve as a wildlife corridor while also offering neighbors a chance to get outside and enjoy the amazing views and the open space on this site.

Soccer fields on a steep hillside?

In February 2017, the city council was presented with several different proposals for the future of North Crestview Park. One proposal – the “passive use” plan – involved minimal construction at the park, with only a walking trail, a couple of benches, and a memorial plaque. The other proposals included much more significant development, ranging from soccer fields to playgrounds to basketball courts, all with a paved road and parking lot.

Because North Crestview Park is steeply sloped, any playing fields would have required massive grading and retaining walls. Whatever natural vegetation was not removed to make way for the playing fields would likely have been destroyed during the grading operations, leaving only grass and mulched landscaping (which offer no cover or habitat for wildlife).

Local residents testified movingly at Parks Commission hearings about the great amount and diversity of wildlife to be found at North Crestview Park. Deer, rattlesnakes, hawks, gray foxes, and numerous bird species have all been seen on this site by the neighbors.

Preserving nature and saving money

I met with city councilmembers, wrote letters, and spoke at meetings to advocate for the passive use plan for this park. In the end, it was a combination of environmental and fiscal benefits that saved North Crestview. Due to the challenges of the site, it was far too expensive to turn into soccer fields, and since the local residents clearly valued it as it was, the city council voted for the passive use plan. It was a real win for open space and wildlife habitat in San Carlos!

“Wildlife Corridor Preserved in San Carlos” from Greenfoothills.org

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March 13
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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San Carlos Library