Preserving Fairview Open Space

 

A deer appears on the horizon of a hill with brush and dry grass

A deer gazes at visitors to Fairview Open Space. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Save Fairview Open Space

Fairview Open Space, 15 acres of grassland and forest with two creeks, including one stupendous gorge, is facing a residential development proposal dubbed ‘Fairview Estates.’ This would obliterate this last chunk of undeveloped open land in El Cerrito.

The open space, just north of the Hillside Natural Area, is a natural extension of the area and should be owned by the public.

Please join El Cerrito Trail Trekkers and ECHO (The El Cerrito Hillside Organization) as we work to save this beautiful site, which is home to two creeks, one of which includes the tallest cascades in the city.

Where is Fairview Open Space? It is in El Cerrito, bordered by Tamalpais Ave., Fairview Dr. and Ganges Ave. to the west, and homes along Arlington Ave. and Julian Court to the north and east. It is just north of and adjacent to the city’s 100-acre Hillside Natural Area, just past Motorcycle Hill.

Why should Fairview be saved? As our city grows denser, it is crucial to save what remains of open space. The open space provides valuable habitat, including riparian (creek), grassland, and forest. Coyotes, red-tailed hawks, owls and many other animals can be found here. Several trails exist that have been used by walkers for decades, though some have become overgrown.

Development would require covering a portion of one creek near the property’s entry, which would violate the city’s creeks ordinance. The slope is steep and seismically unstable.

Would the city accept ownership of Fairview O.S.? The city has a commitment to being an ecologically sound community. Members of the city council have expressed a desire to increase open space. The city happily accepted Madera Open Space into its park system in 2014 and officials understand that Fairview Open Space would be a natural addition to the Hillside Natural Area.

That said, as there is an active development proposal that requires impartial judgment, City Council members cannot weigh in on preserving the land.

Finances of course are tight but funds could be procured through grants, local matching funds, and other sources.

Do people in El Cerrito care about open space? The campaign for Fairview Open Space is more than a reaction to a proposed development. It is part of a continuing effort to preserve open space and add it to the Hillside Natural Area.

When Trekkers led the successful campaign to purchase the Madera Open Space in 2014, $75,000 of the $100,000 the campaign raised came from local donors. The city has several volunteer groups that regularly work to preserve and improve habitat, including the Canyon Trail Group, Friends of Five Creeks, Green Teams, and others.

Our strategy: We need to make clear to the developer that any attempt to destroy this natural setting will meet much opposition. Developing the site will be challenging in any case, due to the slope, and to laws that prevent developments close to creeks plus other environmental issues.  The owner-developer must come to understand that a sale of the property for use as open space is the sensible option.

When Trekkers and the El Cerrito Open Space Campaign worked to save Madera Open Space, Trust for Public Land handled the purchase. We hope to pursue a similar strategy today.

How can you help? We are asking organizations and members of the community to show support of open space by signing the statement of support. Also leave us your email to be alerted the news about Fairview. We are not currently seeking financial donations.

For more information contact Trekker president Dave Weinstein, 510-524-1737, davidsweinstein@yahoo.com. You can also visit our website, www.ectrailtrekkers.org, or that of ECHO (El Cerrito Hillside Organization),