CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS – “STALL & DELAY” – DECEMBER 2019 TO PRESENT

Since the death of Maayan Jones (photo above) in 2019, the residents in the "Danger Zone" have attempted to engage Eddie Guaracha, Diablo Range District Superintendent, California State Parks; to improve the safety for All Park Visitors along this section of road. Please take a few minutes to become acquainted with the History of "Stall & Delay" below:

  • October 8, 2021 - Email to Fellow Scenic Homeowners
  • October 4, 2021 -  Letter to Eddie Guaracha
  • September 17, 2021 - Residents Response Letter to Eddie Guaracha
  • September 15, 2021 - Email from Eddie Guaracha
  • August 23, 2021 - Letter to State Senator Glazer
  • August 21, 2021 - Reply to letter from Eddie Guaracha, Diablo Range District Superintendent
  • August 10, 2021 - Diablo Community Service District Letter to California State Parks
  • August 6, 2021 - Email from Eddie Guaracha
  • July 28, 2021 - "14 Minute" Meeting with Eddie Guaracha
  • July 28, 2021 - Agenda for Meeting with Eddie Guaracha
  • April 19, 2021 - Letter to Armando Quintero, Director Californa State Parks
  • February 2020 - Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd Project - Agenda By Eddie Guaracha for Meeting with Property Holders
  • December 2019 - Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd Project - Agenda By Eddie Guaracha for Meeting with Property Holders

October 8, 2021

Dear fellow Scenic homeowners,

As you may or may not be aware, Mt. Diablo Scenic Boulevard is a private road, and each property owner owns a portion of the road.  As such, the owners and any easement holders are jointly responsible for its maintenance (CA state civil code section 845).

Mt. Diablo State Park is an easement holder and is therefore responsible for its share of maintenance.  Though the Park is the majority user of the road, State Parks has not been willing to do their legally obligated part. In fact, they've spent 50+ years avoiding a resolution.

As annoying as that sounds, this email and the attached letter require no action; it is purely to update you as to the long-term and most recent efforts to engage State Parks in sorting out the Mt. Diablo Scenic maintenance conundrum.

Given State Parks' track record, coupled with the exceptional legal and financial complexity of the situation, I do not expect any resolution but just wanted you to be aware of the background.

Best wishes and enjoy,

Nicola Place

2550 Mt. Diablo Scenic

(Sent via e-mail to all property owners on Scenic except to the owner of 2478; his contact information is unknown.)

Attached: Letter “TO EDDIE GUARACHA at STATE PARKS – Oct. 4, 2021.pdf”

October 4, 2021

Eduardo (Eddie) Guaracha

Diablo Range District Superintendent

California State Parks

(Sent via e-mail)

RE: Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd Road Maintenance Plan

Dear Eddie,

I am replying to your 9/27/21 email asking me to confirm that I “…no longer wish to participate on the Mt Diablo Scenic Blvd. road maintenance plan.”  Nothing could be further from the truth: I would LOVE to participate on a good-faith, qualified, legitimate effort to come up with a road maintenance plan.

But is this such an effort?  To answer that, I think it's important to review the historical record:

  • For 90 years California State Parks has had a legal obligation (CA Civil Code Section 845) to share in maintenance since being granted the easement for Mount Diablo State Park Visitors to safely pass over Mt. Diablo Scenic in 1931. State Parks confirmed their understanding of this responsibility in 1974 (Parks/Hatch 1974).  However, the historical record shows that the State Parks has never initiated an effort nor taken any preemptive steps to meet this legal obligation.  Should you disagree, please provide source evidence and source documentation.  (Please note: An email saying you disagree or simply asserting a different historical record does not constitute evidence or documentation.)
  • Every single effort to engage California State Parks in sorting out road maintenance (and there have been many[1] attempts over the years) was initiated by the residents, not by California State Parks. Should you disagree, please provide source evidence and source documentation.  (Again please note: An email saying you disagree or simply asserting a different historical record does not constitute evidence or documentation.)
  • Sadly, California State Parks has successfully rebuffed every one of those efforts, primarily by using "stall and delay" tactics, thereby exhausting the patience, resources, and goodwill of the residents who ultimately give up.  California State Parks then reports this outcome as "The residents did not want to participate" (State Parks/Cahill, 1979. Et al.), which is a substantial misrepresentation of the situation.

[1] A PARTIAL list: Athenian/Dyke Brown 1975, Senator John A. Nejedly 1975 & 1978, DPOA 1991, Athenian/Leonard Stieger 1987, DPOA and Scenic Residents 1980-1985, Barry Siders 1986-88, LAFCO 2019, Residents/Nicola Place et al (2001, 2011, 2012, 2019-2021), DCSD 2019 & 2020). Additional records available at  BikeDanville.org

  • In 1992, in response to residents’ action, the Contra Costa County Superior court, citing Civil Code Section 845, ordered California State Parks to sort out the road maintenance plan for Scenic; 29 years later, no evidence of any action yet.
  • During one residents’-initiated effort to sort this out, California State Parks intimated that it was problematic to have so many parties involved to negotiate with.  In response, and in good faith, in 2011 the last 8 residents on Scenic whose properties were not yet part of Diablo went to considerable lengths and ongoing expense to get annexed into the Diablo Community Services District (DCSD).  That way there would be only four parties involved: California State Parks, Diablo Ranch Estates, The Athenian School and the DCSD.  Did this lead California State Parks to initiate further action?  No.  Even worse, the Diablo Community Services District refused to add Scenic to the list of roads they maintain. So now all Scenic residents are assessed an additional $723.68 (it increases annually) for…nothing.
  • The only exceptions to the State Parks’ non-action have occurred when the residents finally resorted to contacting their elected representatives; State Senator John Nejedly in 1978, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in 2012 and State Senator Steve Glazer in 2021 for assistance in getting the State Parks to act.
  • Even these Senatorial interventions led only to unfulfilled promises (State Parks/Rhodes, 1975 et al), more "Stall and Delay", or resulted only in a one-time action ($104,000 paving of a short section of the road for the Amgen Tour de California bike race, 2012).  They did not lead to a road maintenance agreement – or even any attempt toward reaching one.
  • The current effort (2019 to the present) was initiated primarily by Kathy Urbelis, a board member of the DCSD, not by State Parks.  Kathy has voluntarily spent hundreds of hours researching the situation on Scenic.  She has a genuine commitment to her community and to public service and it is thanks to her efforts and tremendous skills that Scenic residents were reinspired to try once again to engage with State Parks.  We are deeply grateful for and admiring of her work - but the fact remains that the DCSD has no legal authority to represent the owners on Scenic in this matter.  Further, DCSD has never included Scenic in their road maintenance and has specifically excluded it in their most recent proposed Ordinance update (scroll to page 38).
  • During the current effort your actions have repeatedly demonstrated that you do not have the capacity, commitment, or backing to initiate, sustain, and complete a project of this complexity.
  • For example, in order to negotiate a road maintenance agreement California State Parks would need to involve every homeowner on the road. On the both of the agendas you provided for our meetings you stated the need to include all stakeholders, including ALL homeowners on Scenic.  However, you have never contacted all the homeowners.  Further, you have even gone so far as to restrict the meeting participants and size.
  • You also insisted on including representatives from Contra Costa County, who, like DCSD, has no authorization, ownership, or legal authority for Mt. Diablo Scenic, and then you asked them to weigh in, thereby slowing down forward progress (“Stall and Delay”).
  • Another example of insufficient capacity to handle this project: During each of our two meetings, one in 2019 and one in 2020, you willingly agreed to two very simple assignments - but you never completed them. Specifically:
    1. You agreed to check with your legal department re: CA Civil Code 845 (Legal obligation of easement holders to participate in road maintenance) & report back.
    2. You agreed to ask your road count firm, BKF Engineering, if they have the technology to count bicycles & report back.

I have no idea why you failed to do these things; it suggests an astonishing level of disorganization or intentional inattention to details (“Stall and Delay”).  But in any case, it's behavior inconsistent with the productivity and reliability that would be required to carry a project of this magnitude and complexity forward.

  • You also conducted a road count but did not provide adequate oversight or expertise, nor did you consult with residents or The Athenian School to understand the nuances of local traffic patterns, particularly during COVID. This poor design yielded substantially flawed findings, as Eric Niles and Hal Seibert have brought to your attention, an unfortunate use of $32,000 of taxpayer dollars.  Further, you declined to share those results! Residents had to obtain them via a Public Records Information Act request.

In summary, neither you, as California State Parks’ representative, nor your superiors in the Parks system have ever initiated an effort to address the road maintenance needs of Scenic.  Further, both past and current responses by State Parks (to residents’-initiated requests for engagement) have lacked the capacity, the skills, the interest, the commitment, and the backing to even initiate a project of this complexity, much less complete it. (Refer to BikeDanville.org for over 50 years of primary documents/videos).  What State Parks has demonstrated is a perfect track record of no actual progress on road maintenance.

Unfortunately, this appears to be another round of "Stall and Delay" by State Parks, which is not a project I want to be part of, especially since it is likely to be coupled with the “Blame it on the Residents” outcome report.

All of which leads me back to my original question:

Since there's no evidence that there's a good-faith, qualified, legitimate effort underway, what, exactly, are you and California State Parks seeking to accomplish?

Or, if that’s a question you’d prefer to avoid,

What dates are you offering to host a meeting to which you invite EVERY owner on Mt. Diablo Scenic as evidence that this is, in fact, a good faith effort?

I look forward to your reply.

Thank you,

Nicola Place

Nicola Place

Resident Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd

CC:

Kathy Urbelis, President, Diablo Community Services District

Eric Niles, Head, The Athenian School

Lidia Gutierrez, President, Diablo Ranch Estates HOA

Hal Seibert, Resident

Armando Quintero Director California State Parks

Tara Lynch, Legal Department, California State Parks

State Senator Steven Glazer

Assemblywoman Bauer-Kahan

 

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