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What’s Next on Mount Diablo?

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: May 8, 2020

Photo: Eric Londgren Photography

For decades, people hiking, walking, and bicycling have used the safe residential streets in the community of Diablo to get to the South Gate entrance of Mt. Diablo. Opting for local streets, particularly Calle Arroyo Road, avoids the adjacent, narrow stretch of Diablo Road: a road that saw nearly five times the number of collisions between 2007-2017 than the entire community of Diablo. Many kids walk these side roads to get to school, and the general public uses the roads to get to the Diablo U.S. Post Office. However, in 2018, a handful of wealthy homeowners along Calle Arroyo Road brought forward a lawsuit to close off access to the general public, putting private property above public safety.

The suit brought by the homeowners against the Diablo Community Services District (DCSD) had two claims: to obtain a legal ruling that Calle Arroyo Road is private with no general public right of access; and to have the DCSD enforce this against people walking and bicycling the road. At the time, DCSD did not have a strong stance towards defending the rights or safety of people walking and bicycling through Diablo. It is the responsibility of elected officials to defend safe, public access on our streets. When elected officials didn’t step up to the call, Bike East Bay used our limited resources and a pro bono attorney, with the goal to defend safe public access in Diablo along this road. 

The Court ruled in favor of the DCSD on the second claim: that DCSD has no obligation or legal standing to enforce the privacy of Calle Arroyo Road. But on the main claim, the Court ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs: that there is no general right of public access on Calle Arroyo Road. 

This is a difficult conclusion, in no small part because there is no immediate solution to avoid the dangerous sections of Diablo Road adjacent to Calle Arroyo Road. Bike East Bay’s priority is the safety of people using the street, first and foremost. Read the full press release and view maps for current alternate routes here. We do not encourage anyone to bicycle up Diablo Road through its narrow windy section between Fairway Drive and Mt. Diablo Scenic Boulevard. 

We understand safety concerns with Diablo Road, and are actively working with public agencies to create an alternative route for bicyclists and pedestrians to access Mt. Diablo from the west. Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit regarding public access to a cut-through path in the Diablo community is still pending. There is clearly a need for safe, accessible streets off of Diablo Road to Mt. Diablo. 

As a non-profit organization with limited resources spread across the entire East Bay, continuing to pursue lawsuits against wealthy plaintiffs is not a sustainable option. But the need for publicly accessible, safe streets remains. To that end, we continue our work as always: coordinating in partnership with local allies, public agencies, and elected officials to protect the health and safety of people bicycling, hiking, and traveling from across the East Bay, seeking to reach Mt. Diablo.

Bike East Bay believes the best near-term solution for safe access to the south side of Mt. Diablo would be for county supervisors to create a public easement through Diablo for access to Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd. 

An easement can be created in two ways: 

  • The supervisors could convene homeowners in Diablo to give consent to the easement. 
  • The supervisors could secure an easement through eminent domain.

In the long-term, thanks to voter support for Measure Y this March, Bike East Bay is working with Magee Preserve to build a biking and walking path on the south side of Diablo Road. 

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