The showdown pitting a new bike lane against existing trees along Modoc Road shows no sign of abating, as about 40 people protesting the number of trees that would be felled to make way for the project showed up this past Saturday carrying signs and making a joyful noise. In response, county planners and public works officials have agreed to delay the date for certifying the project’s environmental analysis by about two months. What was initially planned for September 13 in front of the board of supervisors will now take place in November.
In that time, County Supervisor Gregg Hart — in whose district the proposed bike lane would run — is hoping the opposing sides can find some middle ground between what Hart described as their mutually exclusive all-or-nothing approaches. “I’m hoping people can talk, schmooze, and give peace a chance,” he said. Already, county officials have reduced the maximum number of trees that could conceivably be removed from 63 to 49.
Of particular concern is the stretch of stately canary palms that line the eastern side of Modoc. It all depends on how much of an easement the bike lane is allowed into a 25-acre preserve that runs alongside the road. That land belongs to the Land Trust, which thus far has expressed serious environmental reservations about allowing the bike path to encroach on the property. Without that easement, Chris Sneddon of the Public Works Department said as many as 29 canary palms could be at risk. With an easement, he said, the number could be as low as zero.