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Oakmont bike path lawsuit stays on track

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The city has won the first round in its legal fight to preserve bicycle access through a gated community near Oakmont.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elliot Daum has ruled that the city’s case can proceed against the Village at Wild Oak neighborhood.

“It’s certainly not over,” said City Attorney Caroline Fowler. “Our hope is this will at least bring them to the table at this point.”

The city sued Wild Oak last year after the neighborhood between Oakmont and Annadel State Park refused to remove signs banning bicyclists from a popular route through the community. The city argued that a valid 20-foot wide, 2,300-foot-long public easement exists across the property and the neighborhood has no right to interfere with the public’s access.

But Wild Oak residents, who are fed up with recreational cyclists barreling along their private streets and walking paths, argued that the easement was never granted for bicycles, just pedestrians and official vehicles.

The city says the planning record and history of the project clearly shows an access easement for equestrians, pedestrians and bicyclists was always envisioned. City staff in 1980 “inadvertently” certified the final maps for the project without mentioning bicycles, the city claims.

But Wild Oak officials said it was no accident bikes were dropped from the easement. Access for bicycles was specifically not granted because state park officials worried the trail would become an unrestricted park entry point, said Joe La Vigna, president of the Villages at Wild Oaks Homeowners Association.

The judge’s ruling only finds that if what the city alleges is true, the case deserves to continue, La Vigna said.

“The judge did not examine the strength or weakness of their argument versus our argument,” he said.

The city is also suing the Diocese of Santa Rosa, alleging that the Star of the Valley Catholic Church also infringed on the public easement by building 10 handicapped parking spots over the path.





5 Responses to “Oakmont bike path lawsuit stays on track”

  1. Voice of Reason says:

    The new bicycle rider entitlement is being taught to children. A sense of superiority to other modes of transport is leading to the imposition of bike paths where they don’t belong. It’s obvious why the Oakmont subdivision specifically left out bicyclists from their neighborhood. People are old there and want peace and quiet. They anticipated this problem and made legal provisions to deal with it.

    In the Junior College neighborhood, an unwanted and unneeded bike boulevard was installed without the support of most residents. Now, they are having to take it out. Some places are great for bikes, other places are not.

    About Annadel State Park, bicyclists dominate most paths and it’s scary just trying to take a walk. You have to constantly look behind you to check if there’s one coming up really fast. That’s not being contested though, just one street that doesn’t allow it legally is trying to defend that right. The bicyclists don’t need every street to accommodate them.

    The social engineering that bicycling is the cornerstone of, says that auto travel is bad and must be reduced or eliminated; bicycling, walking or public transit are good and should be imposed at every opportunity. In reality, most people must use cars to be fully functional in our society and it isn’t bad to do so. The entitlement mentality leads to bullying against the non-bicyclists and unnecessary conflicts. It’s time for bicyclists and all others to realise they are no better than anyone else regardless of their choice of transportatiuon options.

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  2. collinsfriend says:

    TEN handicapped places?? Walmart has less than that and most of the time they’re empty.

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  3. Paul I says:

    As a reader of the PD since I moved here in 1980 I remember the push against the bicycles in the Park. It was the horses v bikes. Horses in Oakmont bikes in SR.

    Do a check on the PD in the archives. Back when the paper was not what it is now. Then more a small town paper.

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  4. Reality Check says:

    Is it really selfish to want to enjoy the tranquility of the property one has bought and paid for?

    Yes, I’m sure you do want to be able to ride safely. All understandable. But does that give bicycle riders the right to ride where ever they want? This is a fairly straightforward legal issue: Either the easement extends a right to bicycles or it doesn’t. Courts exist to settle such disputes.

    Right now it looks like the city is trying to find a cheap route for a bike lane and they don’t give a damn whose neighborhood they degrade.

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  5. Bicycle Family says:

    Why would State park officials worry about an “unrestricted park entry point” for cyclists only, and not horses and pedestrians? What would justify this discrimination? I can’t imagine that this could be supportable. Further, there is nothing to prevent “unrestricted” access south on Channel, so being worried about it from only one direction and not the other is absurd!

    Get over yourselves people, live and let live. I like to cycle on these quite lanes and Channel drive with my young kids, so I can avoid dangerous cars. Stop being so selfish.

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