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California Government Code § 831.4 (2017) provides for broad and absolute immunity to public entities for liability for injuries caused by a physical defect of a trail used for hiking, riding or access to recreational or scenic areas. The immunity applies to the public entity and the grantor of the easement. For the Electric Greenway Trail, the grantor of the easement is the private property owner. Thereof the landowner is protected if the conditions of 831.4 are satisfied:
CA Govt Code § 831.4 (2017) - A public entity, public employee, or a grantor of a public easement to a public entity for any of the following purposes, is not liable for an injury caused by a condition of:
(a) Any unpaved road which provides access to fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, riding, including animal and all types of vehicular riding, water sports, recreational or scenic areas and which is not a (1) city street or highway or (2) county, state or federal highway or (3) public street or highway of a joint highway district, boulevard district, bridge and highway district or similar district formed for the improvement or building of public streets or highways.
(b) Any trail used for the above purposes.
(c) Any paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk on an easement of way which has been granted to a public entity, which easement provides access to any unimproved property, so long as such public entity shall reasonably attempt to provide adequate warnings of the existence of any condition of the paved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk which constitutes a hazard to health or safety. Warnings required by this subdivision shall only be required where pathways are paved, and such requirement shall not be construed to be a standard of care for any unpaved pathways or roads.
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The Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project is a new 2.9 mile multi-use trail currently under construction that largely follows an existing Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) electric transmission corridor. The trail will span between the Arcade Creek Park Preserve to the west and Wachtel Way to the east, crossing over Arcade and Cripple Creeks.
This project will provide connections to several community parks, schools, shopping centers, and neighborhoods along the corridor. This effort is part of the City’s overall goal to increase walkability, safety and provide improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout a system of creekside trails, passive open space, and parks.
This project is a partnership between the City of Citrus Heights, Sunrise Recreation and Park District (SRPD), Orangevale Recreation and Park District (ORPD), San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD), Sacramento County, and SMUD.
As early as the 1970s, Sacramento County identified the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) corridor as a location for a pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian trail. As property was subdivided along the SMUD corridor, pedestrian, bike, and equestrian easements were dedicated benefiting Sacramento County to allow for future trail installation. The City of Citrus Heights’ General Plan and Zoning Map identify this corridor as Open Space.
In 2014, the City approved the Creek Corridor Trail Project, a feasibility project that evaluated the potential for multi-use trails along the SMUD corridor and creek corridors. City Council directed staff to proceed with funding, design, environmental review and construction for the Priority 1 Trail Segments (including the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail).
In 2015, the City adopted a Bikeway Master Plan and General Plan Update which included the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail as a priority project. The area known as the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail is identified in the Sacramento County Bikeway Master Plan providing connectivity to the east of Wachtel Way and thru Citrus Heights.
In 2016, the City adopted a Pedestrian Master Plan which identified the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail as a priority project for the City.
In 2017, the City applied for and received grant funding from the state Active Transportation Program to build the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail (formerly known at time of grant application as the Electric Greenway).
In 2018, the City contracted with consulting firm, GHD, Inc., to lead the design of the project.
In 2022, the City awarded the construction contract to Central Valley Engineering & Asphalt, Inc. Construction began in October 2022.
The Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project is part of a larger trail within the City of Citrus Heights. The City’s General Plan, Bikeway Master Plan, and Pedestrian Master Plan depict a trail along Arcade Creek from Wachtel Way to Van Maren Lane (near Sylvan Library).
Outside the City of Citrus Heights, Sacramento County’s Bikeway Master Plan anticipates additional trail construction east of Citrus Heights towards the American River trail. The Sacramento County Bikeway Master Plan is available here: http://www.sacdot.com/Documents/A%20to%20Z%20Folder/Bikeways/SCBMP_North_Wallmap_Rev4.pdf (Note: this is a very large file and may take several minutes to download depending on connection speeds.)
In addition, the City of Roseville’s Dry Creek Greenway project terminates near the northeast corner of the City of Citrus Heights near Old Auburn Road and South Cirby Way (See Map). The Dry Creek Greenway connects to the west through downtown Roseville, under Interstate 80 and ending at Cook Riolo Road and further west in Placer County.
Further, a 60- mile regional vision was established connecting south Placer County and North Sacramento County to other regional trails via the Dry Creek Greenway. This regional effort proposes connecting this area to the American River Parkway in Folsom as well as the Ueda parkway in Sacramento County. The Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail plays an important role in the connecting the City of Citrus Heights to the broader regional trail vision.
Yes, a pedestrian activated traffic signal will be constructed at the trail crossing of Fair Oaks Boulevard.
Properties are assessed based on many factors, including the presence of any easements. When an easement is located on private property, the land still belongs to the property owner but certain restrictions and requirements are applied to the easement area. These restrictions and requirements are taken into consideration when the property is assessed, whether the easement is in use or not. Because the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project is proposed within existing easements, there will be no change to assessed property values or taxes.
An easement is a property interest that allows use of a portion of a property by someone other than the property owner. The majority of the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project’s alignment is located within existing public park lands and public right-of-way. However, portions of the trail are located within existing pedestrian and bikeway easements on private property.
The presence and location of easements can be found on the recorded subdivision maps and assessor’s parcel maps. Easements are also typically listed on title reports which are provided to property owners upon purchase of a property.
The various sections of the trail will be maintained by the public entities responsible for that portion of property. This includes the City of Citrus Heights, County of Sacramento, Sunrise Recreation and Park District and Orangevale Recreation and Park District. After the trail is built and during construction, individual private property owners would not be responsible for maintenance of the trail or areas within the existing easements.
The minimum lot size for animal keeping is 10,000 square feet. This is based on gross square footage of the lot. The trail easement would not be deducted for the purposes of calculating minimum lot size for animal keeping or any other use that requires a minimum lot size.
The project will take into consideration the existing alignments of fence placement along the easements. It is the intent of the City and the Park Districts to construct the width of the trail only as wide as necessary to safely and adequately accommodate users, and to be consistent with standard practices. The final location of fences will be determined based on existing topography, trail alignment alternatives, existing tree/vegetation locations, and sight distance requirements to name a few.
If a privately owned fence needs to be relocated as a part of this project, the project will pay for the removal and relocation/replacement of the fence. If a privately owned fence needs replacement, but is not impacted by the project, it will continue to be the owner’s responsibility to replace the fence, at their own cost. (Also, see question #24).
In general, if new or relocated fencing is required as part of the project, the project will pay for the associated construction. Fencing height, type, materials and locations were determined based on conversations with each individual property owner during design and included in the final construction documents.
In general, fence maintenance will be the responsibility of the property owners as they are located on private property and are there to serve the residential property and not the open space, park or trail. However, because the proposed trail will be spanning multiple jurisdictions, parks and easements, the project will continue to evaluate this concern and we will provide further information.
Vandalism and property damage along the trail will be enforced using existing Criminal and Civil statutes that are already in practice for all other areas of private property.
Per CA Government Code § 831.4 (2017), the Trail Immunity does provide broad form indemnification as it relates to recreational trails along public property and easements for public use. However, property owners may want to check with their insurance companies regarding this as everyone’s policy and carrier is different.
Some property owners have made use of the hiking, equestrian and bikeway easement for vehicular access to their rear yards, however the easement was not dedicated for this purpose and has not been sanctioned or permitted by the City. Due to safety concerns regarding vehicular access mixing with future trail users, the City will begin prohibiting vehicular access to the trail easement prior to commencement of construction beginning in the spring of 2021. Enforcement of the vehicle access prohibition will not begin in early 2021 with the exact date to be determined once the construction schedule has been confirmed.
Owners that currently utilize the public easement for vehicular access to the rear of their property should make arrangements to remove vehicles necessitating easement access by early 2021.
The city has worked to improve walking and biking conditions throughout the city since incorporation. Recent outreach affiliated with the Creek Corridor Trail Project, Pedestrian Master Plan, and Bikeway Master Plan indicates that many people are interested in active transportation (walking, biking, etc.) but are concerned with the potential conflict with motor vehicles. The majority of respondents indicated they would be more willing to use active transportation if they were physically separated from vehicles. Further, residents responded they were more willing to walk if they had safe access to key destinations (such as parks, shopping/entertainment, and schools).
The Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project provides an off-street route for residents to access key destinations throughout the city including the Sunrise MarketPlace, numerous parks, schools and other desirable locations
The police department is not aware of any safety issues that would be present along the trail that will connect between Villa Oak Drive and the Olivine Open Space. Although the distance between access points may be greater in this area than in other areas, it is not an enclosed area which would still allow for someone to summon help or escape, if needed.
The existing corridor following the proposed trail alignment is located between rear yard fences for some of the trail route. This area is typically a minimum of 25’ wide but varies along the route. In a few places (for example between Villa Oak Drive and Wachtel Way), fences have been constructed encroaching into and blocking the easement creating a dead end along this corridor. This existing dead end limits the capabilities of emergency responders to access the easement from only one direction.
The existing unimproved condition of the corridor (presence of overgrown vegetation, lack of legitimate trail users along this corridor, and the dead end) creates a potential opportunity for criminal activity to occur due to the limited visibility of this area.
As part of the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project, the existing corridor will be improved by:
In August of 1983, a lawsuit was settled between the County of Sacramento and various property owners along a portion of the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project alignment. The lawsuit pertained to property rights through three separate subdivisions answering the question of whether or not the County owns a hiking, equestrian and bikeway easement over various properties. Ultimately, the judgment of the court was that the there is an easement over two of the three subdivisions including Sunrise Farms No. 2, and Farmette Hills. There is no easement over the properties developed as part of Sunrise Farms.
Please see exhibit A showing the location of the three subdivisions here.
Copies of recorded subdivision maps exhibit B can be found here.
Copies of recorded subdivision maps (with easement locations highlighted) exhibit C can be found here.
A copy of the court judgement exhibit D summarizing the lawsuit findings can be found here.
Per California law code (Government Code 831.4, and Civil Code 846), private property owners are removed from liability to entrants on the land for recreational purposes (with a few exceptions).
In order to minimize disturbance outside of the limits of the trail corridor, the trail profile is proposing to maintain the existing ground elevations to the maximum extent possible while meeting ADA compliant design criteria. With this approach, the project will maintain existing drainage patterns and watershed boundaries to the maximum extent practical. The paving of the trail will increase the impervious surface; however, the project will provide positive drainage throughout the trail system and provide various drainage improvements as needed to ensure there is no increased runoff. Some examples of potential drainage solutions would be bioretention swales, ditches, water quality basins, and other drainage features that comply with Stormwater Low Impact Development and/or Best Management Practices.
In summary, stormwater will flow in similar patterns and directions as it does today. Engineered water quality features will be installed to offset the increased stormwater blocked by the trails new pavement areas for a net-neutral impact to the area’s stormwater patterns.
If you have stormwater damage or existing flooding issues, please contact the City to discuss options for your specific property.
For trails of this nature, users are typically residents living within walking or biking distance of the trail. Tempo Community Park and C-bar-C Park both provide surface parking for people driving to the parks to use the trail. The project will utilize the existing parking provided at the various park properties and on-street parking (where it is provided/allowed today). Off of Wachtel Way, near the Woodside Oaks/Olivine Open Space, there is a potential area for some parking on the west side of the roadway. This is currently being evaluated as part of the project, but construction is dependent on available funding. On-street parking is available along many of the trail crossing points including Streng Avenue and Villa Oak Drive.
The proposed facility is a 10-foot wide shared use path that, per the approved grant, is proposed to be paved with asphalt. There will also be 2-foot wide shoulders on either side of the paved path that will consist of a pervious material like decomposed granite or similar. In the 25’ easement between Claypool and Olivine, the remaining 11-feet will be left with native materials. The trail does not provide separate accommodations for equestrian specific use. Equestrians are able to utilize the paved trail, decomposed granite, or the native material.
The Creek Corridor Trail Feasibility Study can be found on the city’s web site by searching the document name or at the following web address http://www.citrusheights.net/documentcenter/view/1670.
Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets. To encourage this, the project will place waste stations/receptacles in key locations along the trail to encourage responsible pet ownership practices.
The Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project will receive no direct General Funds. The project is funded primarily through grant funds, with an approximate 10-12% match coming from local transportation funds.
Along the almost 3-mile long Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project alignment, there are a total of 629 trees (in both Citrus Heights and Orangevale) within the immediate vicinity of the trail. The overall goal of the project is to preserve as many trees as possible as trees, among other benefits, help to ensure a shaded trail for all to enjoy. However, many trees will require removal due to their existing poor condition. In addition, other trees will be pruned under the direction of arborists to help preserve and maintain safe walking and biking clearances. Finally, some trees will require removal due to trail construction.
As part of the overall project, some trees will require pruning. Pruning will remove specific branches or stems in an effort to benefit the health of the entire tree. Removal of dead, damaged and diseased branches prevents insect and other non-beneficial organisms from entering the tree. Thinning a dense canopy on a tree will increase air and sunlight, providing increased health and resulting in fewer tree disease problems. Pruning trees also helps them grow and mature in a healthy way in an effort to preserve the trees as long as possible.
Removal of Dead or Dying Trees:
Unfortunately, numerous trees along the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project alignmnt have died or are diseased beyond recovery requiring removal for safety purposes. Some dead trees will be removed, others will remain in place as part of the natural environment and Eco-system.
Removal of Trees for Trail Construction:
During the preliminary engineering and environmental review phase of the project, the City utilized conservative estimates to determine the potential for trees to be removed as part of the project. The purpose of this approach is to allow flexibility in the trail alignment during design. Although this seems counterintuitive, assuming the worst case scenario allows the city the ability to minimize the environmental impact. By assuming the worst case scenario, the design team is able to fine-tune the trail alignment and design without setting constraints during the conceptual phase. The ability to meander the trail from the concept allows for the flexibility to develop the best design, using detailed information and minimize tree impacts.
At the time of the environmental document and conceptual design, a total of 302 trees were identified to be removed as a result of the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project. As part of the 95% design plans, that number has been reduced to 80 protected trees and 41 non-protected trees; a 60% reduction in the original tree removal quantity. In addition, the design team is working to develop design details to reduce that number even further.
As illustrated below, the environmental document for the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project assumed a wide area of removal; whereas, in actuality, the trail will meander or utilize other design approaches to greatly reduce tree impacts.
The images below illustrate design techniques that will enable preservation of nearby trees. The use of small retaining walls, meandering trail alignment, and narrowing short stretches of trail are examples of opportunities the city is considering during final design.
Any work conducted within the dripline of any tree to remain will be monitored by an arborist to ensure best-practicesare followed to minimize the impact of construction on these trees.
The project goal is to preserve as many trees as possible. Any trees that are removed will require replacement trees to offset the impact of the project. Replacement trees will be planted along the trail corridor and nearby parks as mitigation. Trees planted as part of mitigation are required to be monitored by an arborist for three years following installation to ensure they are able to thrive.
One goal of the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project is to avoid removing or impacting trees as much as possible. In cases where trees are removed for the project, the project will be responsible to mitigate the loss of protected trees.
As the Trail alignment primarily follows an overhead electric transmission corridor, the City and SMUD are working together to select tree species that meet the needs of the parks and trail, but also meet SMUD’s safety goals to protect power lines and reduce wildfire impacts. See SMUD’s website for additional information: https://www.smud.org/en/Corporate/Environmental-Leadership/Protecting-Trees-and-Power-Lines
Separate from the Trail Project, the City will be working with SMUD to evaluate trees along the SMUD corridor which are unhealthy or impacted by utilities that should be removed to eliminate other hazards or further utility conflicts.
Various security measures are currently being evaluated through the alternative development and evaluation process. Some of those security measures include lighting, open sight distances, fencing, landscaping (or purposeful lack thereof), and more. If you feel there are particular areas along this alignment that should have security measures installed, please email email@example.com .
The Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail Project is primarily funded through an Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant. Money received through this grant program can only be spent on projects that increase the number of people biking and walking, increase safety for non-motorized users and enhance public health. ATP funds cannot be used to repair or resurface vehicular roadways.
The construction contract was awarded at the August 11, 2022 City Council Meeting. Construction began in Fall 2022 with an anticipated completion date in late 2023.
The trail will be designed to handle maintenance and emergency vehicles on the 10 foot wide paved section. The street entrances to the trail will have locked and removable bollards.
The Citrus Heights Police Department currently has a supplemental services contract with Sunrise Recreation and Park District. The contract enables Citrus Heights Police Department officers to work in all of the parks within the city limits. Once the trail is complete, officers will also patrol the trail in cars and on bicycles. These patrols will be in addition to the normal patrol checks and park checks that occur on a regular basis. Orangevale Recreation and Park District has a service contract with the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District’s Police Division which provides park and trail patrols.
Police will continue to provide exceptional police services to all areas along the trail alignment. If you see something, say something. Although not expected, if there is crime that occurs along the trail, the two police departments will utilize the data to effectively and efficiently deploy resources to locations that need it the most.
The Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail is a high priority project for the City of Citrus Heights, Sunrise Recreation and Park District, and Orangevale Recreation and Park District. The project is identified in the City’s long term planning documents as a priority project in the General Plan, Bikeway Master Plan, and Pedestrian Master Plan.
Lighting will be installed as part of the project. LED lighting fixtures will be installed along the trail where lighting does not already exist. Some developed park areas are currently served by SMUD lighting, which will remain.
In general, the homeless population prefers to be in areas that are hidden from public view. Currently, portions of the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail corridor are overgrown or otherwise not visible to the general public which can result in homeless camps or other related activities. The construction of the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail will reduce overgrown vegetation and introduce legitimate trail users to the corridor which will discourage homeless activity. In addition, by improving the trail the Citrus Heights Police Department, Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, and the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District’s Police Division will have improved access to the corridor allowing regular patrols and improved ability to respond.
In 2013, Sunrise Recreation and Park District constructed the Arcade Creek Park Preserve including a 1/3 mile multi-use trail. The park was constructed on land that was formerly overgrown and heavily used by the homeless population. As part of the construction of the project, the overgrown areas were cleaned up and legitimate trail and park users introduced to the park. As a result, the homeless population moved away from the park and the park continues to be heavily used by families, trail users and children.
The existing bridge within Sundance Natural Area was constructed in the late 90’s and as such does not meet current Americans with Disability Act (ADA) standards. Additionally, over the past decade FEMA floodway mapping and floodway design standards have been updated and the existing bridge no longer meets these requirements. We are also very cognizant of the environment and want to develop a design that meets ADA and Floodway parameters, while minimizing impacts to the natural environment. Each of these items is discussed in detail below.
The rock slope protection (aka rip-rap or rocks) will be installed to protect the creek bank and new bridge from scour and erosion.
The trail will remain open till 10PM for those who are actively using the trail to travel to and from their homes. Actively using the trail is defined as walking, running, bicycling or other approved modes of transportation. Park hours will continue to remain from dawn to dusk.
In order to provide a safe crossing, a pedestrian activated traffic signal across Fair Oaks Boulevard is recommended. The signal will be activated and stop vehicles on Fair Oaks Blvd only when needed, minimizing delays and impacts to the operations along the Fair Oaks Boulevard arterial.
Please contact the Citrus Heights General Services Department at (916) 727-4770 or email the project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An interactive map is available on the project webpage.
Document last updated January 12, 2023.