Bear Creek Stables

Overview | Updates | Next Steps | Public Process | E-mail

Upcoming Community Meeting

Stop by anytime between 6 and 8 p.m. Staff will be available to answer questions and receive input on the near-term Deferred Maintenance Repairs Plan and the long-term Preserve Plan Site Plan for the stables. There will be no formal presentation.

August 27, 2019 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Los Gatos Adult Recreation Center
208 E Main St., Los Gatos, CA 95030

Project Overview

The Bear Creek Stables (Stables) site was first developed in 1916 as part of Dr. Harry L. Tevis’ Alma Stock Farm. Following the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s (District) acquisition of the site in 1999, the site has continued to operate as a horse boarding facility under a month to month lease. A site plan to guide the long-term management of the Stables, address deferred maintenance and provide public access facilities was developed to meet the following goals:

  • Emphasize the protection of the site’s natural resources,
  • Maximize public benefit by broadening public access and use of the facility, and
  • Develop a viable plan that is financially feasible for both a long-term tenant and the District.

On January 25, 2017, the District’s Board of Directors certified the Environmental Impact Report, and approved the Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve Plan, including the Stables Site Plan, which outlines a phased implementation plan.

As part of the Fiscal Year 2017-18 Action Plan and Budget, the Board approved $355,600 for the Stables site improvements and another $137,100 for the supporting water system to complete site assessments, develop design plans and construction documents, and initiate permitting.

The Board also reviewed a 3-year funding program for the Stables and the water improvements totaling $5,927,800.  Those funding estimates were based on previous cost estimates and are not part of an approved budget. $3,777,300 was projected to come from Measure AA funds and $500,000 from general funds.  $1,650,500 was projected to come from grant/partnership/other funding.  The grant/partnership/other funding source has not been secured.

Site Investigations

Initial site investigations, including topographical survey and geotechnical/geological assessments, were completed to inform the design and engineering plans for the Stables improvements.

  • The results of the topographic survey show that the available space in the lower public area is more limited than anticipated in the conceptual site plan.
  • The results of the geotechnical/geological assessment reveal extensive landslides on the site, with the most significant movement located in the planned parking area and public/livery site.
  • These assessments identify the need for more extensive site grading, installation of multiple retaining walls to address landslide areas, and rearrangement of project elements to fit within the constrained site.

Updated Cost Estimates

In late 2017, the District revised the preliminary design plans using the new site information. The new cost estimates for the updated plans are significantly higher (155% to 174%) than the numbers from the original Preserve Plan and range from approximately $8M to $9M for Phase I improvements. Because these revised designs are still preliminary, the cost is expected to change throughout the design development process and will likely increase based on past experience, strong construction market and inflation.

The implementation of basic improvements and facilities that address deferred maintenance and enhance public access trigger a County Use Permit, which requires major costly improvements to meet County requirements. Extensive site grading, parking requirements, engineered retaining walls, and water storage requirements are some of the major cost drivers.

Ensuring public safety is a core value of the District.  While the tenant is responsible for ongoing maintenance of the stables, the District has and continues to work with the tenant to address any immediate safety needs. While these actions are sufficient in the short term, the stables need significant basic upgrades to continue providing a functional and safe environment. Many of the improvements that are required through the County permitting process have safety considerations at their core, such as the requirement for water storage for fire or retaining walls to ensure ground stability.

Project Update

District staff presented results of ongoing work along with a range of project options evaluated to date at the April 25, 2019 Board meeting.  At this meeting, the Board directed staff to move forward with Deferred Maintenance Repairs (option 2) in the near-term and the Preserve Plan Site Plan (option 1) in the long-term. Staff will return to the Board in fall 2019 to provide an update on the project permitting and implementation process.

Bear Creek Stables Site Improvements - Project Update Memo

Recent Work - Santa Clara County Planning Department Permitting Coordination
On December 4, 2018, District staff met with Santa Clara County Planning staff and the Fire Marshal Office to discuss the type of repair and maintenance work that is allowed under the existing legal nonconforming use.  Numerous repairs of existing facilities are allowed under this option, including repairs to the driveway, barn, parking, site drainage, and water system.  Staff is preparing an option that focuses on the high priority site repairs and maintenance work with the intent of remaining within the Board-approved project budget.

Funding Partnership and Fundraising Feasibility Assessment

Because the funding gap to implement the Board approved Stables Site Plan is so large, District staff are working with a consultant to conduct a fundraising feasibility assessment. Stewart Woods & Associates is assisting the District to determine if $5 million can be raised to renovate and enhance Bear Creek Stables. The assessment will explore whether, as an organization, the District, or a partnering entity can implement and sustain a development campaign to raise funding for the project. The assessment will also explore whether prospective donors are readily apparent who might provide the funding necessary to allow for a successful campaign.

If the District enters into a fundraising partnership agreement, the Board may require as a condition of that agreement that the partner not be eligible to respond to a future Request for Proposals for a long-term tenant operator. The District’s Board would review and approve a partnership agreement at an open public meeting.

Additional conditions that the Board may consider include:

  • Accepting funds in support of the Project from one fundraising entity (versus multiple).
  • A minimum partner-funding threshold, as determined by the Board.
  • Agreement that the District retains full control over the design, contract management, and implementation of the Project, and will keep the partner informed of progress, milestones, and any significant hurdles encountered, especially if these affect fundraising or the timeline.
  • District discretion on whether to include fundraising entity information on the District’s webpage. Consideration factors may include fundraising entities mission and goals.

Next Steps

Request for Proposal

A Request for Proposals (RFP) to secure a long-term tenant to operate and maintain the Stables will be developed and released once project funding is secured, and 50% construction plans and an implementation schedule are developed. A tentative timeline for the RFP would be posted when these components are completed.

Any interested party can respond to the RFP.  However, the RFP will require proposers to disclose their affiliation with any fundraising groups to be fully transparent as to any potential or perceived personal or financial conflict of interest that may exist.  The District considers a variety of factors during the process of evaluating proposals, and reserves the right to reject or disqualify any proposal at our sole discretion, including on the basis of a conflict of interest.  Transparency and integrity is critically important in any public procurement process, including this one, which is of high interest to many different people and stakeholders.   

Bear Creek Stables Site Plan Public Process

To receive notifications of public meetings, sign up to be added to the Bear Creek Stables interested parties list.

Thank you for your participation in the Bear Creek Stables process. Here’s a recap:

  • Input and ideas on the future of Bear Creek Stables were recorded at the open house on Monday, March 16, 2015. Download meeting materials
  • Design concepts were created by consultants from Populous on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 to reflect the public’s vision of the site.
  • Design concepts were presented to the public at the meeting on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 for feedback on how accurately the consultants understood the public input received on Monday, and to begin creating the site design alternatives. Download design concepts
  • Preliminary Site Design Alternatives were presented to the Planning and Natural Resources Committee on April 29, 2015. Download Preliminary Site Design Alternatives
  • Site Design Alternatives were presented to the Planning and Natural Resources Committee on September 29, 2015. Download the Board Report
  • Site Design Alternatives were presented to the Board of Directors on February 24, 2016. Download the Board Report
  • Alternate A2 was selected by the Board of Directors on July 7, 2016 as the preferred alternative for inclusion in the Preserve Plan and analysis in the EIR. Download the Board Report
  • Bear Creek Stables Site Plan and Design Alternate A2 was approved as part of the Preserve Plan on January 25, 2017. Download the January 25, 2017 Board Report
  • RFP for Design Development was released in January 2017
  • Contract for Design Development was awarded to John Northmore Roberts and Associates on March 27, 2017. Download the March 27, 2019 Board Report
  • Project options were presented to the Board on April 25, 2019. The Board directed staff to move forward with the Deferred Maintenance Repair Plan in the near-term and Preserve Plan Site Plan for a long-term solution. Download the April 25, 2019 board report.

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