More visitor-friendly viewpoints should be created in Saratoga

September 17, 2016 — by Spring Ma

Junior talks about how there should be more viewpoints open to people in Saratoga. 

It’s 9 p.m. and you’re stuck in Saratoga on a weekend — now what? You’re in a car full of friends, excited to spend time together, but just can’t get past this pesky question.

Just thinking back on the past month, I can’t even begin to count the number of times this scenario has popped up. The options for hangout spots in the general vicinity of Saratoga are very limited, but recently, many teens and others have started driving up Big Basin Way to find viewpoints — open spaces where they can view the sunset and city lights. With a blanket or two in hand and some good music, we find that these hangout spots can often inspire deep conversations and quality time.

However, as the teenagers flood up the mountains to hang out, sheriff’s deputies have started patrolling the areas and shutting them down at sunset. Just 15 minutes from SHS, Prospect Point used to be filled with cars every evening around sundown. With a picturesque 360-degree view of the Bay Area, one can spot both the school’s Benny Pierce Field as well as the Bay Bridge.

But technically, the entrance to Prospect Point is on private property: to get to the scenic viewing spot, you have to park your car in a neighborhood court and walk a short trail up the mountain.

As Prospect Point became more popular, the neighbors started calling the deputies on visitors or directly telling them to leave. This is when neighborhood watch cars started patrolling the area just around sunset: people can no longer take the short drive down Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road to enjoy the night views without getting an angry escort down the mountain.

The residents of countless other viewpoints have followed suit. Pierce Road leads up to an incredibly scenic drive into the mountains, but neighborhood watch cars are constantly circling the upper courts. When a couple friends and I visited Apollo Heights, another viewpoint off Highway 9, the neighbors kicked us off the property before we even got out of the car.

To welcome more visitors to the beautiful views that Saratoga and the Santa Cruz Mountains have to offer, more communal viewpoints should be created in the area. Though it is possible to see the Bay Area view in Saratoga at destinations such as Fremont Older Space Preserve and Hunter’s Point, these viewpoints involve long hikes to get to the top.

Creating more viewpoints for cars to park on public property would give students the incentive to stay within the city, instead of going to Cupertino, San Jose or even San Francisco to hang out. Moreover, these public destinations would attract high schoolers away from the existing neighborhood-embedded viewpoints, appeasing property owners around Prospect Point, Apollo Heights, and more.

One example of this is Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve — because the park was created with an intent for many visitors, it’s become a popular destination for high schoolers. The only downside is that Skyline requires a 40-minute drive from Saratoga.

Making more public viewpoints for citizens is something the city ought to consider. Though it is understandable that property owners have safety and traffic concerns, a view is meant to be shared. Neighborhood patrols are solving the problem for property owners, but are also eliminating the already-scarce choices for teens and residents to hang out in their own city.  

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