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Sausalito Hiking Trail Shortcut Sparks Sign War Between Homeowners, Hikers

SAUSALITO (CBS SF) -- A shortcut to a popular hiking trail has been cut off by property owners in Sausalito who have had enough of people traversing their private street.

The segment of Wolfback Ridge Road between U.S. Highway 101 and the ridgeline overlooking the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has spurred decades of debate that has now sparked a sign war between hikers and homeowners.

"It's a little frustrating," said hiker Matt Mihaly. "I mean, it accesses three trailheads."

"It's frustrating," said the head of the homeowners association, Vipul Patel. "A lot of them just think it's public, because the public trails are up there."

A sign at the gate on Wolfback Ridge Road points hikers to the path where they can access the Alta, Rodeo Valley and SCA Trails, a steep step trail called Morning Sun Trail.

The city of Sausalito says the shortcut along Wolfback Ridge Road is private. But apparently, much of the public doesn't know that thanks to years of conflicting information from various maps and even city employees.

The battle most recently came to a head again this week when Mihaly parked on the road - he thought, legally - for a hike, and returned to a tow away sticker.

"I peeled that off. It left a bunch of residue by design. We later found the sticker sold online commercially and they're advertised as being difficult to remove," said Mihaly. "I was pretty upset about it."

So Mihaly put his own signs over the homeowners association signs, accusing neighbors of an "attempt to intimidate people into staying off public lands" and adding, "I and anyone else will park here whenever we feel like it. If you don't like it, too f****** bad."

Now those neighbors say they plan to get new tow away signs for cars that cross into their well-marked territory, making their message clear, even if the rules of the road aren't.

"It's a safety issue. And hikers and bikers that try to go up there when we're driving down, sometimes we have blind spots. We can't see them," said Patel. "And there's a safe way to go up here to hit the trails. That's Morning Sun Trail, and we put a sign up here about five years ago for that reason."

I'm not in a position to push the gray area," said Mihaly. If the city of Sausalito is telling me it's private, I'm not going to fight them on that."

Despite the claims of the property owners and the city of Sausalito, the Marin County Property Appraiser's Office said it is still reviewing the issue of whether or not the stretch of road is private.

The appraiser's office said it may have a decision by Wednesday. Mihaly says he plans on coming out to place new signs offering an apology over the hubbub that's been created over the issue.

If the road is deemed to be private, tow away signs will be going up all along that road.


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