In September employees of the National Park Service (NPS) and the directors of the Golden Gate Recreation Area (GGNRA) held a meeting in Tamalpias Valley to put forward some ideas to deal with the traffic circulation issues in the parklands of the Marin Headlands and Muir Woods.  Due to the recent large increase in visitors to the National Monument at Muir Woods, and the traffic congestion and parking issues it has caused, a proposal to build a 180 car parking lot on the Dias Ridge, overlooking Muir Woods, was put forward.  At the very same meeting, the directors of the GGNRA made a very clear assertion that they felt that the resource at Muir Woods was being overused and that after a very hectic visitation during the 4th of July, they had concluded it was now necessary to put a maximum daily cap on the number of people coming to the National Monument.  In their opinion, this cap on the daily number of visitors should be between 3,500 and 4,000.

Our curiousness as to this number and its relationship to both the existing parking situation out at the Park and the proposal to add 180 additional parking spaces, led us to do an investigation and analysis of the current and proposed traffic plans for Muir Woods.  What we found was a profoundly disturbing and quite blatant contradiction between their proposed development plans and their stated desire to protect and preserve the natural resource by limiting visitation.  In fact, the contradiction is so great as to beg the question, What Gives on the Dias Ridge?

Currently, there are sufficient spaces the lots at Muir Woods to facilitate parking for over 2,400 visitors per day.  Additionally, the Marin Transit has expanded its Park & Ride service to the Park and can deliver 1,200 people per day to and from the Park on the high season weekends.  Not including any walk-ins or bike-ins, these two can provide the means to meet nearly all of the weekend visitation requirements of the GGNRA, while honoring its commitment to its 3,500 to 4,000 visitation cap.  There are currently several spaces set aside for commercial buses and vans, certainly enough to handle the remaining spare visitation capacity of 400 people.  Ten 40 passenger tourist buses, serving the hotel district in SF would do the job.  So, What Gives?

We conservatively estimate that the construction of a Park & Shuttle facility on the Dias Ridge would increase potential visitation to the Park by nearly 2,000 per day, a 50% expansion over their own capacity limitation assertions.  So, one part of the Park Service obviously wants to expand visitation, while another part wants to limit it.  In the meantime, those of us living in the gateway communities surrounding the Park have been left out of the discussion, even though our communities are suffering greatly under the impact of all the traffic the current out of control visitation to Muir Woods is causing.  Our representatives have done little to nothing to date to bring us into the conversation concerning any of these questions.  This is very unfair!

While looking into this development scheme, we discovered that our very own Board of Supervisors, via the efforts of Steve Kinsey, had come to an understanding with the NPS to cede jurisdiction over the roadway on the valley floor, running from Muir Beach to Muir Woods to the GGNRA, thus washing their hands of the overflow parking issues along that road and with it the most important tool the local communities have in exercising any control over how the Park effects their quality of life.  This was being done without any public comment.  It was stopped only because certain concerned citizens, who found this out, immediately contacted Jared Huffman directly, and his intervention saved the day.

This sad tale of contradiction and deception, masked a rush to action that would be detrimental to the environment, our communities and our confidence in the government itself.  This process has been revealed to be a conspiracy against the general interest, our natural resources and the safety and welfare of our communities.  Clearly the time has come to demand a moratorium on the entire process and open it up to an extended period of public review and input.  The first part of that review process must include a professional study as to the true carrying capacity of the nation’s treasure, Muir Woods.  Until that study is complete, no future course of action should be undertaken.  This is what the Park Service owes to us, and what we must demand in doing our duty to the future!  The guiding principle of this conversation should be, Who Benefits?

What can you do?  Get to the meeting tonight!  (6:30 PM at Tamalpias Elementary School on Bell Lane)  Make it clear to Steve Kinsey and Kate Sears that we will not allow this to continue without protest.  Stay informed.  Get to the next Board of Supervisors meeting in December so that the other supervisors know that this is just not right.  Demand transparency!  Get to the next meeting with the Park Service in either January or February and tell them that you understand the contradictions in their assertions and make them tell the truth.  Make them answer the question, What Gives on the Dias Ridge?


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