PLEASANTON -- A regional park named for the scenic ridge backdrop to this city sprawls over 7,487 acres between Dublin and Sunol, yet the public has only one main door to enter it.
Making public access even more difficult, the lone major entrance to the eight-mile-long park is located near the sparsely populated southern end, miles from towns to the north.
Park officials intend to change that with a plan to create two major new entrances with parking lots, enlarge the existing entrance, and add camping, more trails and access to Tehan Falls.
The district also would add a new trailhead in Dublin for people to ride and walk into the park.
"We have wanted for a long to expand the public access to one of our largest parks," said Brian Wiese, the park district's chief of planning and stewardship. "We buy land when it's put up for sale by private owners. Sometimes that means you have to wait to acquire the pieces that make it work the best for public access and recreation."
Pleasanton Ridge Park is popular with hikers, joggers, mountain bike riders and dog walkers.
To accommodate those users, the district would expand the internal park trail system from 34 to 63 miles. Trail loops would be added in lower and flatter park areas that are suitable for young children and the elderly.
Also planned are back-country camp sites and new picnic areas.
Park planners say they have no set schedule or cost estimates for projects,
The park land use plan, a long-term vision for managing the park, is expected to go before the elected park board at its meeting either July 17 or Aug. 14 in Oakland.
The district established the park in the years after Alameda County voters in 1983 approved a referendum overturning county-approved plans for a housing development on the ridges.
The park system continues to acquire more land for the park, but public access has come slowly.
The current park entrance on Foothill Road near Sunol has parking space for 50 cars, but it often fills up on days with sunny, mild weather, park officials say. That lot would get 25 more spaces.
The district also would build the new 70-space Garms staging area at the intersection of Foothill Road and Las Positas Boulevard in Pleasanton. A trail would lead to the Tehan waterfall, a new park acquisition that remains closed to the public until a safe path there is developed.
A second new entrance, with up to 90 parking spaces, would be developed at the Tyler Ranch staging area in Sunol at the southwest end of Foothill.
All together, the plan calls for
The district also would develop a new Devany Canyon trailhead off Dublin Canyon Road where visitors could walk or ride their bike into the park, but not park cars.
Wiese said the district hopes some day to develop an entrance to Pleasanton Ridge Park off Palomares Road, but its land buying in that area is too recent to include an entrance there in the land use plan.
Those following the land use plan appear to be broadly supportive. In a June 12 meeting in Pleasanton attended by about 50 people, several speakers said they were eager for more places to get into the park to hike, ride and run.
Exactly when new facilities would be developed would depend on when the park district can plan them, said Julie Bondurant, a park district planner.
Before anything new can be developed, though, the district first must adopt the land use plan, she added.
Park board members have said that increasing public access is one of their main priorities -- especially after East Bay voters in 2008 approved a $500 million regional bond measure to expand and improve the park system.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff
To view information about the plan, go to ebparks.org and click on "park planning" and then "Pleasanton Ridge."
Comments on a proposal to declare the plan has no significant environmental impacts are due to the regional park district by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or delivered to the district at 2950 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland.