Calling All Path Walkers / by Mark Altenberg

From the Kensington Outlook February 2019 issue (page 5)

By Lisa Caronna and Mark Altenberg

Did you or anyone you know use Kensington paths before 1972? If so, we need to hear from you! A core group of residents recently started the group Kensington Pathkeepers, whose mission is to secure the Kensington paths as public access walkways for future generations.

In order to do that, we need a record of historical path use prior to 1972. We want to hear about your use of the paths and the use by your friends, neighbors, and relatives. When you write your stories, please be specific and name the path, the connecting streets, and the year(s) you used them. It would be helpful if you could also include a way to contact you.

There are eleven pathways in Kensington; see the map. Most of the paths are open to public access, although a few are completely unimproved and two have been closed off over the years by adjacent home- owners (portions of paths #7 and #10). The Kensington paths were offered to Contra Costa County when Kensington was first developed in the early 1900s, but the county never accepted the offer. Despite that, if the paths were used by the public before 1972, they would have been accepted as a result “by public use” without any need for formal acceptance. Establishing historical public use is an important first step providing clarity toward the goal of public agency ownership.

Establishing public pathway ownership has been attempted numerous times over the past hundred years with excellent information developed most recently by a subcommittee of the KPPCSD in 2011 and action taken by the KPPCSD board in January 2012. (See The advantages of public ownership are many (including access to grant funding), and the lack of clear ownership threatens our safety and the paths’ continued existence. Our initial goal is to resolve this long overdue ownership problem. Kensington Pathkeepers is committed to working with KPPCSD, KFPD, the county, and the adjacent landowners so our paths exist for future generations.

Paths play a critical role in our community and are a true asset to be cherished. Besides offering dramatic views of the bay, they are crucial for our safety—the paths offer possibly the most direct evacuation route during a disaster, especially when roads are blocked by traffic or downed trees. They also encourage walking and physical exercise and build community through personal interaction between neighbors.

If you would like to participate, please email and check out the website at You can also send in your stories either by email or physical mail to Mark Altenberg, 245 Yale St., Kensington 94708. Or call 510-301- 5000, and we will come and interview you for these critical historical path archives.