Archived from the Monterey County Weekly website:
Take a Hike
Huckleberry Ridge homeowners sue city of Monterey to keep the public out.
By Ryan Masters

Jul 21, 2005

It’s a real hot issue on the hillside. A court battle over public access and maintenance is on the verge of erupting because of the recent appearance of “No Trespassing” signs on some Monterey trails that have been considered open space for decades.

TAKE A HIKE: Private Venture: Local homeowners would like to see the public quarry area maintained for their access only. Jane Morba

A group of Monterey homeowners living beside a greenbelt of open space on Huckleberry Ridge, commonly known as “Parcel B,” has sued the City and their own homeowners’ association to keep the public from using a system of foot trails which connect Veteran’s Memorial Park and the nearby abandoned quarry.

In addition, the five homeowners, Anthony, Vincent and Kathy G. Giammanco, and Alan and Anna Lee Rosenthal, also want the city of Monterey to pay to maintain the open space. “Obviously, we can’t take the taxpayers’ money and maintain the property and at the same time keep the public from using those trails,” says City Attorney Deborah Mall. “Plus, the kicker about one of those trails is that, not only is it a public easement, it’s also the fire access so we can gain access to that back area in case there’s a burn.”

As a result, Mall has made clear to the association that, if necessary, the City will take steps to abate any fire dangers that are presented by lack of maintenance and charge the homeowner’s association for the cost.

Gary Gray, an attorney for the complainants, could not be reached for comment at press time.

Many residents have used the foot trails to access Dry Creek Road, Cramden Drive and Yerba Buena Court from Herrmann Drive for decades.

Yet despite the fact that Parcel B has been listed as owned by the Huckleberry Ridge Homeowners’ Association since 1982, two decades ago the Association didn’t exist.

“The City knew that was the owner,” Mall explains, “but at the time, there was no group organized that answered to that name.”

So the City researched who actually made up the Huckleberry Homeowners’ Association and, in many cases, notified them of their membership.

By the late 1990s, the City had identified 16 homeowners as Huckleberry Ridge Homeowners and in early 2002, it asked them to form an association.

“We gave them the opportunity to form a homeowners’ association and then deed the land to the City so the City could take care of it and maintain it as open space and greenbelt,” Mall says. “We wanted to maintain the property for the public’s continued use.”

In late 2002, the Huckleberry Ridge Homeowners’ Association formed, met, and voted by majority to deed the land to the city of Monterey.

That’s when the trouble began. According to Mall, some members of the minority “didn’t like the vote.” In 2003, the Giammancos and Rosenthals filed a complaint in the Monterey Superior Court against both the City and the homeowner’s association.

In the complaint, the Giammancos and Rosenthals state that they believe that the City is required to maintain Parcel B free of cost to the homeowners. In addition, they’ve requested that the City restrict the public from using the trails which traverse Parcel B.

At a July 13 Monte Vista Neighborhood Association meeting convened to address the “No Trespassing” signs on Parcel B, the Huckleberry Ridge Homeowner’s Association notified the City that they had voted to join the lawsuit and sue the City.

Mall has asked the neighborhood association to see if they can compromise to find a solution before the case goes to court. Her suggestions included the possibility of keeping some of the trails open to public use or exploring options to share the costs of maintaining Parcel B among those who use or enjoy the property.

“I’m hoping they can work something out,” Mall says. “If we can’t resolve this, we’ll go to trial on Nov. 14.” 
© 2006 Milestone Communications Inc. All rights reserved. represents the views of a group Monterey Peninsula citizens who support continued public access to Parcel B.
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