LIVERMORE -- The city of Livermore's review of an early environmental report on a plan to expand Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area is drawing intense opposition from off-roaders.
The Feb. 10 meeting drew a standing room-only crowd of motorcyclists, dirt bike enthusiasts and four-wheel fans who told the council to stay out of the environmental process and support the project.
In response, council members said they have no authority over Carnegie, and there's nothing out of the ordinary about reviewing the draft report for local impacts.
One of eight state-managed off-highway vehicle parks, the Carnegie SVRA east of Livermore now has about 1,600 acres of riding area. California State Parks' plans to expand by 3,400 acres into the Alameda-Tesla area have been fiercely opposed by a coalition of groups called Friends of Tesla Park, who want the area preserved as a historical and natural resource park. State Parks' off-highway division presented their preferred concept for Carnegie's expansion in November, calling for a system of multiuse off-highway trails, camping and parking areas.
Sporting orange stickers reading "I Support Carnegie, and I Vote," scores of riders turned out for the City Council's Feb. 10 meeting to call on council members to support the proposal as a "community asset."
"There's all kinds of people looking at this thing," said Anthony Godrich, a Livermore resident and rider at Carnegie for 40 years. "The new Carnegie isn't going to be like the old Carnegie."
Council members and city officials appeared to be taken aback by the massive showing, explaining jurisdiction over the off-highway vehicle park belongs to the Livermore Area Parks and Recreation Department, not the city.
"Typically, when we have a project like this that's outside the city limits, we review the environmental impact reports to see if there are any impacts to the city itself," said Livermore community development director Stephan Kiefer. "It's not any different from any other project."
The council, prompted by more than a dozen speakers -- including representatives from the Sierra Club, Livermore Heritage Guild and Society of American Indians -- agreed on Jan. 13 to have staff review the project's draft EIR and comment on any potential impacts. The council could then decide whether or not to agendize it for further discussion.
Nancy Rodrigue, representing Friends of Tesla Park, supports the review, saying the city has a responsibility to address consequences of expanding Carnegie on traffic and historical and biological resources.
"This is going to affect Livermore more than any other place," Rodrigue said. "There's already a serious traffic issue for people living along Tesla Road ... It's already a problem, and this (expansion) will triple the size of Carnegie."
But some expansion proponents feel the city's involvement has an agenda -- putting up a roadblock to increased ridership.
"I feel like they're trying to take it away," said Dublin resident Dave Peterson, a longtime motocross rider at Carnegie. "We have our postage stamp (of land). Let us have it."
Riders also told city officials an expanded Carnegie would be a boost to the local economy and provide a safe, maintained place to recreate.
"Without this local park there are few places within a two-hour drive that can be utilized for this type of recreation," said Timothy Neil, who owns an off-road fabrication shop in Livermore. "If you take away freedoms, people will create their own."
According to Carnegie superintendent Randy Caldera, the draft environmental report is on track for release by early fall.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.