Edition #1 “Facts are Stubborn Things” January 1, 2024
History of the Controversial Mt Diablo Scenic Easement
On September 28, 2023, several residents of Diablo built a fence blocking the Historic Public Easement (trail connector) between Alameda Diablo and Mt. Diablo Scenic that has been in use for over 100 years. In so doing, they also barricaded out all of their fellow Diablo neighbors who live on Mt. Diablo Scenic, including three long-time residents featured in the DPOA’s “Diablo Honors.” To “Take Down the Fence and Reopen” legal action is required. The current litigation (Contra Costa County Superior Court Case # C23-02578) is supported by 48 legal declarations (many of them Diablo residents) and 3,439 signatures (many of them Diablo residents) on a change.org petition. A GoFundMe campaign has already raised $20,237 (106 donors, many of them Diablo residents) to assist with legal fees. Which will more than likely re-establish the easement for use by everyone for the next 100 years!
Outlined below for your information, is the easement issue in two parts, after 1979 and before 1979.
In 1979, a full 44 years ago, the County and the owners of an 8.22-acre parcel applied to split their parcel into two, which opened the “Diablo Lakes” area for development. This lot split was approved in Subdivision MS 263-78 Parcel Map filed Sept 19th, 1979, was recorded on the property, and stated: The area marked “25-foot Riding and Hiking easement” is dedicated to the Department of Parks and Recreation of the State of California, or its designee, for Public use for Riding and Hiking.
An express dedication in a recorded public document is a contract offer and acceptance of such an offer can be made in this case by the State of California or its designee or by widespread and continuous use of the easement by the public in the manner intended! In this situation, Diablo residents and the general public have accepted the easement through riding and hiking by all types of user groups for the past 44 years! The overriding consideration here is the acceptance of such easement by widespread and continuous public use becomes an expressly dedicated easement.
But what about prior to 1979? The easement resides on the same exact location as the centerline of the original 1916 Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd Toll Road. The Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd. Toll Road became Camino Tassajara and then later renamed Alameda Diablo. From 1916 until the State Park was created in 1931, this road was the only Southern access to the upper parts of Mount Diablo through the community of Diablo. Asphalt still remains under the gravel that exists on the easement to this day.
There are 4 solid metal posts still cemented in the ground spanning both sides of the original road, before it was closed to vehicle traffic when Scenic was rerouted in the early 1930s. The posts and the braided wire rope remind all users that this location had never changed prior to 1979 or sense. The trail or pathway spanned two adjacent parcels until it was rededicated as a new easement in 1979.
To recap, from 1916 until 1931 there was a 60-foot-wide roadway spanning two parcels. From 1931 through 1979, the trail connector continued to be used by all user groups to access Mt. Diablo as marked by four solid metal posts. When this trail connector was threatened by development (Diablo Lakes) in the late 1970’s, the County was asked to protect it. The Diablo Hiking and Horseback Committee of the Diablo Property Owner’s Association and the East Bay Area Trails Council representing 10 public agencies and 40 different public user groups both cited the need for this widely used trail access to Mt. Diablo to be protected in large part for safety reasons. They asked that it be included as part of the State Park Trails System and the County responded by creating the new dedicated easement in 1979.
Again, this property has been in continual use since 1916 for public access to the then privately held Mt. Diablo and then, in 1931, to the newly created Mt. Diablo State Park.