Residents of Serra Village Estates got sick of watching hikers change clothes in their cars and got the county to close an access point to public land.
Thursday, August 10, 2000
Peninsula nature lovers may have noticed that the Anza Drive access point to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land at Fort Ord has been closed. The BLM''s 7,200 acres of recreation land are a haven for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, but the land is not without its problems.
"The hard part is getting to it," explains Fort Ord Project Manager Eric Morgan. "Access is really poor." Because of this, the Anza access point, a small piece of land that starts on Anza and ends just over Toro Creek, has always been favored by BLM land users because it is so close to actual recreational BLM land, with the trails beginning just on the other side of the creek.
However, Morgan and County Parks planner Rich Brandau clarify that the access point is not in fact BLM land, but a Serra Village Estates parcel that was deeded over to the county in the 1960s because it lies in a floodplain. It is now "Service Area 15," and since Serra Village homeowners pay a special tax for county upkeep of that area, they also apparently feel entitled to keep BLM users off of it.
"Anza Drive is the perfect access spot, but it was actually never a legal one," explains Morgan. "When Fort Ord was still government property, the Army maintained a fence at Anza Drive, but over time that fence was destroyed by people using Fort Ord for recreational purposes. Since the Army did not use that whole area of Fort Ord, they simply looked the other way; when BLM received the land they just continued the Army''s policy, because it had never been a problem."
So what happened? Dave Steaffens, operations manager for Monterey County Parks, says the homeowners complained to Supervisor Judy Pennycook about all the people enjoying Fort Ord from their neighborhood. The complaints included too many cars parked on the road, people undressing and changing in view, people urinating on the ground, and litter left on the ground. When Pennycook brought the issue to the attention of the county, they fenced off the Anza access point and put up boxes of maps with other access points marked on them.
However, while Steaffens maintains that there are no plans to close off any other access points and that cars parked at those recommended by the county will not be towed, he also concedes that there are no actual lots to park in.
According to Morgan, "BLM realizes they need to help find other places for people to park, since excluding big events at Laguna Seca, 25-30,000 people per year use the BLM land at Fort Ord for casual recreation."
So what is BLM planning to do about this? In the short term, BLM is trying to get use of Highway 68 access off of Creekside Terrace, where there is also a BLM access point. There is no lot at the Creekside entrance, which is a little over a mile away from Anza, but there is some space where cars can park for now. In the long term, BLM wants to develop an official parking lot (or lots) that would include public restrooms; eventually an additional lot could be added in 2003.
BLM is in discussions with the county right now, but tentative funding for a new lot(s) would not be available until 2002. Until then, those wishing to use the land given to the entire community are just going to have to keep their dirty, loud selves away from Anza Drive.