Tesla Park should be open to Bay Area walkers, not vehicles 07/07/2020 by Dick Schneider
Trails created by off road vehicles mark the hills in the Carnegie state vehicular recreation area, which borders Tesla Park in Livermore, Calif., Thursday, October 18, 2012. The state plans to use the Tesla land for an off road vehicle park as well, but local advocacy groups are hoping the land will be preserved instead.
Photo: Sarah Rice / Special to The Chronicle
The Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders and the recent increase in COVID-19 case numbers have revealed something nature lovers have known for a long time: Local open space for walking, hiking and nature contemplation is at a premium.
One place that easily could be opened soon to provide more hiking and walking space is known as Tesla Park. It’s 3,100 acres of pristine land located outside of Livermore, in eastern Alameda County.
Tesla is beautiful, with panoramic views of Mount Diablo, the Central Valley and the Sierra mountains. It has abundant wildlife, including a variety of rare, threatened and protected species (the California red-legged frog, Alameda whipsnake, and Golden eagle are three examples, in addition to many rare native plants).
Tesla is so rich and biologically diverse that, for decades, it was a nature study area for University of California professors. Some of California’s earliest naturalists, including John Muir and Joseph Grinnell, recognized the conservation value of the area. It’s also already owned by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. So why isn’t it open to the public?
Unfortunately, since the late 1990s, Tesla has sat unopened behind locked gates. The state parks department is hanging tight to irrational plans to open Tesla to damaging off-road vehicle recreation, a plan that faces intense local opposition. Such use would destroy Tesla’s ecological value and limit its recreational value to all but a relatively limited group of off-road vehicle enthusiasts. Anyone else trying to enjoy the area would be assaulted by noise, dust, vehicle exhaust and the destruction of natural scenery. An increase in air pollution is a significant and unavoidable impact of opening the area to off-road vehicle use. In our new normal of physical distancing, that likely will require park officials to offer access to the park only on a limited basis. Not that this will matter for those seeking a hiking respite — the last place where most people will want to recreate is in a hot spot for air pollution, with visibly scarred hills.
The COVID-19 crisis has presented an opportunity to rethink how we do things and reveals what is most important. The state parks department can re-designate Tesla as a non-motorized park and preserve. This decision would solve two problems at once: The department could end the ongoing dispute over Tesla’s future, and provide more hiking and walking space close to the Bay Area population. This would increase access for a much larger number of people, and preserve a biologically rich and scenic gem for all time.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed AB1086, a bill that would have allowed the sale of Tesla to a local agency for conservation. The parks department opposed losing any of its acreage.
But Newsom has the power to act without legislation, and with full reimbursement to the state. With the stroke of a pen, he can — and should — administratively designate Tesla as a non-motorized park and preserve within the state parks system. The coronavirus pandemic will ease eventually. But designating Tesla Park as non- motorized open space now ensures that it will always be here when we need it. Dick Schneider is chair of the Sierra Club Tri-Valley Regional Group, which covers eastern Alameda County. He co-authored Measure D, the Save Agriculture and Open Space Lands Initiative, passed by Alameda County voters in 2000.
June 2020 Newsletter 06/09/2020
Your Friends of Open Space and Vineyards Board of Directors hope you are all staying safe and healthy as we continue to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Special Giving Efforts During the extraordinary time we are facing, FOV recognizes the impact of COVID-19 in our local communities and the need to serve in different ways. We are committed to our regular mission to preserve and protect open space and vineyard lands, as circumstances permit. In addition, we are supporting the Las Positas College COVID-19 Giving Initiative (#LPCTogether). This program provides equipment and materials to students who need assistance due to distance learning requirements. The pandemic has impacted our ability to provide our regular scholarships this year for students in the Viticulture and Winery Technology Program at Las Positas College. We believe that that supporting all students in need right now, regardless of program, is critically important. We will continue to support our regular scholarship program. We hope to be able to see you at our annual Twilight Tasting at Page Mill Winery in October to raise funds for the students studying Viticulture and Enology at Las Positas College. No one knows yet when tasting rooms will be open, but we will adapt our event to any restrictions in effect at that time so that we can continue to provide scholarships that promote winemaking and viticulture in our region.
Call to Action for Tesla Park The pandemic has stalled efforts to pursue legislation to save Tesla during the current legislative session. Nevertheless, the fight continues. One way you can help is to join the social media campaign to Save Tesla. Our partner, Friends of Tesla Park, has shared easy ways that you can help: Please re-tweet, follow, share, and post with the hashtag #SaveTeslaPark on Twitter and SaveTeslaPark on FB. The Tweets and posts are coming from the Sierra Club's SF Bay Chapter account, @SFBaySierraClub, and the Friends of Tesla Park Twitter account, @tesla_park. Please follow us and share with your circle of contacts with the hashtag #SaveTeslaPark on Twitter and SaveTeslaPark on Facebook. Here is link to a recent #SaveTeslaPark tweet. NOTE: There may be some OHV user attacks in response to your posts. Please ignore the trolls and do not engage with them. We only want to post positive comments about Tesla.
Please help spread the word about Tesla and build support for its preservation. This will help us gain support when we are able to work with the legislature and governor again.
Support Local Wineries Our local tasting rooms are still closed due to the pandemic. Please support them if you can. Many wineries are offering curbside pick-up and deliveries, as well as virtual tastings. If the wineries don’t succeed it will affect the long-term stability of the South Livermore Valley Area Plan. For information about what’s available check your favorite wineries’ websites. For a list of options, click here.
Valley Trail Connections Bridge Opening Soon 11/15/19
The Tri-Valley Conservancy's (TVC) Valley Trail Connections initiative is nearing completion. The installation of the Edward R. Campbell Bridge over the Arroyo del Valle in Sycamore Grove Park began this last July and will officially open on December 12. The pedestrian bridge is the final step in connecting 44 miles of trails through Sycamore Grove Park, Del Valle Regional Park, Ohlone Regional Wilderness, Sunol Regional Wilderness, and Mission Peak Regional Preserve. The Grand Opening will take place on December 12th from 1-2 pm at the Arroyo entrance to Sycamore Grove Park (5049 Arroyo Road in Livermore).
The Friends of Open Space and Vineyards is a proud supporter and partner with the Tri-Valley Conservancy. Tammy Reus, the FOV appointee to the TVC board, along with past and present FOV members, were on hand for the Valley Trail Connections bridge ground breaking ceremony in July.
TVC Valley Trail Connections groundbreaking ceremony. (From R-L) Tammy Reus, Connie Campbell, Mike Haggerty, David Furst, Norm Petermeier, and Jean King.
Latest News on Tesla Park 9/22/19
Save Tesla—Tell Gov. Newsom to sign AB 1086
Last week, the Legislature approved AB 1086 . AB 1086 would allow the State Parks Department to sell the Tesla area if it finds that it would be in the public interest. The Tesla area is a 3,100 acre expanse of open land in the hills southeast of Livermore which is home to protected species, historical mining communities, and Native American sites. It is next to Carnegie Park, an off-highway motor vehicle recreation area. The current plan is to expand Carnegie Park and to develop Tesla as an off-road motorized vehicle park.
FOV has been working with Friends of Tesla Park to protect the Tesla area for several years. The passage of AB 1086 is a huge step forward but without the Governor’s signature, the legislation will die.
Please help NOW by contacting the Governor and telling him to sign AB 1086. There are only a few weeks left for him to enact this law. He needs to know this bill has broad public support.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
•Fax a brief letter asking the Governor to sign AB 1086 to Fax (916) 558-3160; OR •Use the Governor’s web site comment tool at https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/ to register support for AB 1086 (Pro AB 1086).
Please join with us today and take a few minutes to contact Gov. Newsom. Help us continue in our effort to permanently protect Tesla!
2019 Walk to Wine with FOV Friday, May 31st 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery, 3053 Marina Ave, Livermore
We had a great turn out for our Walk to Wine with FOV on Friday, May 31st. The event began with a walk through Holdener Park to enjoy the scenic trails. Following the walk, we met at Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery and Vineyard for a short introduction to vineyard management led by winery owner, Garry Rodrigue. Members of the FOV gave an update on the status of the Tesla Park preservation efforts while attendees enjoyed a glass of wine and a picnic lunch in the beautiful winery patio and garden.
Proceeds from the event support FOV's actions to protect open space and enhance the success of the vineyards and wineries in the Livermore Valley. We thank Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery for generously hosting us and for everyone who attended this year's event.
Our Annual Twilight Tasting Fundraiser Was A Rousing Success! Thursday, September 21st 4:30pm Page Mill Winery, 1960 South Livermore Ave, Livermore
Thanks so much to all who came out and supported the scholarship fund for the Winery & Viticulture Tech Program at Las Positas College! It looked as if there were more people there than last year, and we raised more money for the scholarship, as well! Congratulations goes out to the winners of two wine country baskets, provided by Concannon Winery and Friends of the Vineyards, as well as a case of wine made by the students at Las Positas College. We hope the winners enjoy their treats (and maybe invite us over to share!).
We have to thank Page Mill Winery for providing an excellent weekly non-profit program! It is so generous of them and we greatly appreciate their support. We also want to thank the vendors that were there and donated a portion of their sales that night: Darnell the Pie Guy, Sugar n' Spice, and Wine Country Gifts & Jewelry. Check them out on Facebook and Google!
Our 1st Annual Coastal Cleanup Day was a Clean Sweep! Saturday, September 16th 8:00am Arroyo Mocho @ Holmes St & Mocho St., Livermore
Friends of the Vineyards participated in the Coastal Clean Up activities that took place throughout the Bay Area on September 16th. The volunteers gathered along the Arroyo Mocho where they joined with local cub scouts to clean up a section of the arroyo. Participants gathered up numerous loads of trash and tracked the types and number of items located for scientific research purposes.
Among the most unusual items located were a hardbound Webster's Dictionary, a ceramic castle, half a pink ukelele, and a Christmas decoration. Everyone agreed it was a fun way to support our community.
The Latest News on Tesla Park August 15th, 2017
The Alameda County landfill on Vasco Road has a Committee that disperses funds collected as mitigation for the collection and burial of trash on Vasco Road. This public entity, named Altamont Landfill Open Space Committee (ALOSC) supports preservation of lands in Eastern Alameda County having significant value for protecting native biological biodiversity and wildlife habitat, or significant value for visual character and/or non-motorized recreation.
This Committee is ready and prepared to act on the opportunity to use its funds to ensure the permanent preservation of Tesla Park by offering to purchase the land from the State Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division. The following local State Senators and State Assembly Members have all jumped on board and offered to sign a letter to the Director of State Parks asking her to approve selling Tesla Park to a local entity such as East Bay Regional Parks to preserve it forever.
cc: Alameda County BOS Livermore City Council EBRPD LARPD ACRCD
Senators Jim Beall Steve Glazer Nancy Skinner Jerry Hill Scott Wiener Bob Wieckowski Bill Dodd Cathleen Galgiani
Assembly members Catharine Baker Tim Grayson Rob Bonta Kansen Chu Kevin Mullin Phil Ting Marc Levine Marc Berman Tony Thurmond
With all of these key people backing this proposal, we're feeling confident that the sale will be allowed to go through. Stay connected to see how this issue will pan out.
2017 FOV Spring Event---Wente Cave Tour & Sycamore Grove Hike Sunday, May 21, 2017 10AM Sycamore Grove Park -- Arroyo Road entrance
On Sunday May 21st, Friends of the Vineyards hosted a hike, cave tour, and lunch for our members.
The event began with a “gentle” hike through parts of Sycamore Grove Park guided by LARPD Ranger Dawn Soles. Much of the focus of the hike as discussed with the group centered on the water damage caused by the heavy rains and flooding in the Park earlier this year. Dawn’s comments were very informative and tied together much of the visible and tangible evidence that still remains in the Park.
Following the hike, the group moved across the street for a tour of the caves at Wente Vineyards accompanied by some wine tasting at our stops along the way in the caves. Once again we had a very amicable, knowledgeable, and informative guide who related the history of the Wente family, the caves, and the winery. One interesting aspect was how the winery managed to stay afloat during Prohibition (making sacramental wine). The tour ended with a stop in their home herb and vegetable garden that services the restaurant. Afterwards, the group enjoyed an alfresco box lunch on a little patio between the caves and the tasting room. Of course, wine was included. All our attendees really enjoyed the day.
2017 FOV Scholarship Winners May 17th, 2017
The FOV scholarship awards for 2017 were awarded at Las Positas College on May 17th. With your help, we gave out one for Enology (Elizabeth Refsnider) and one for Viticulture (Ryan Hunt). They were both quite thankful for the awards, and are both currently already working in the local wine industry, with plans to go further once they graduate. We wish them success in the future and can't wait to see how they can help the Livermore Valley wine country continue to thrive!
2017 Livermore Wine Country Festival May 6-7, 2017 Downtown Livermore, CA
The Friends of the Vineyards (FOV) was one of over 300 vendors that set up and managed a booth on Saturday, May 6th and Sunday, May 7th at the Livermore Wine Country Downtown Street Festival. This festival is one of the largest in the East Bay with over 150,000 people attending and celebrates wine, craft beers, arts, crafts, dining, and entertainment in the downtown charm of Livermore.
Our FOV Directors managed the booth and were able to explain to our visitors who we are and what we do. It was fun talking to our guests about our efforts to preserve open space, agriculture land, our wine industry, and our trails. We were also able to explain urban growth boundaries and the South Livermore Area Plan and how they work together to help us protect our valuable land, precious water, trails, and endangered species. We have only one planet and we must all work together to preserve it.
FOV Annual Meeting January 30th, 2017 Livermore Public Library, Civic Center
The meeting began with President Tammy Reus and Treasurer Don Milanese giving a report on the successes of 2016, including support to such issues and organizations as Friends of Tesla Park, the Tri-Valley Conservancy, Dubliners for Change, and opposing the waiver to Measure D for the conditional use permit requested by the Sikh Temple.
Tammy provided some welcoming remarks to the approximately 40 people in attendance, including Board members. Some of the events noted included the Page Mill scholarship fund raiser, the annual holiday party, participation in the Wine Country Festival, and the hike and Wente cave tour/lunch.
We were also able to announce the results of our board elections with the reinstatement of Meredith Sarboraria and Dr. Neal Ely as Directors. During the meeting the guest speaker, Mr. Dick Finn, gave an interesting and engaging talk titled “History of Tri-Valley Vineyards.” The talk focused on the development and early years of the grape growing and wine making in the Valley up through about the turn of the 20th Century. His talk was well received and drew a number of questions.