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Op-Ed: The Sonoma Coast’s ‘bridge to nowhere’

Richard Charter, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Peaceful little Gleason Beach is nestled midway between Bodega Bay and Jenner, hidden in a pastoral valley just north of the small communities of Carmet and Sereno del Mar, where Highway 1 crosses tiny Scotty Creek.

Its fate will come before the California Coastal Commission on Thursday, shortly after 9 a.m. in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers.

Decades of unfortunate policy decisions and a few poorly sited crumbling homes once built atop unstable cliffs have led Caltrans to propose a 3,700-foot highway bypass with an 850-foot-long concrete bridge, all just to cross over seasonal Scotty Creek, a rivulet only a few feet wide most of the year.

The early history of the Sonoma Coast was one of small tribal villages until the Spanish and Russians sought riches here. Thus the sheltered coves along the coast gradually became transportation hubs for coastal sailing vessels. As early agricultural families decided to improve ancient game trails along the shoreline by building the first gravel wagon roads, they pursued a level path hugging the seaside along the clifftops. World War II brought the tangible fear of an enemy invasion of our county by sea, so urgent highway improvements enabled rapid access for a coastal defense that, fortunately, was never needed.

As the coast became a desirable second-home destination, large landowners near Gleason Beach apparently decided to subdivide cliffside lots into a skinny development between Highway 1 and the ocean.

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/8294059-181/close-to-home-the-sonoma