Mt. Umunhum and Measure AA

On May 19 2014 the San Jose Mercury News ran an editorial in which they urged a “yes” vote on Measure AA. Measure AA would allow the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District to borrow up to $300 million, paid for by bonds.

Measure AA funds would be used for a number of projects which are well documented on Mid-Pen’s web site. One listed project is, as the Mercury News wrote,

“…public access would be assured for Mount Umunhum, the South Bay’s Mt. Tamalpais or Mt. Diablo equivalent with The Cube, a Cold War military tower, sitting on top.”

It’s certainly true that Mid-Pen says that Measure AA funds would help enable a number of projects in and around Mt. Umunhum. Unfortunately saving the Radar Tower atop Mt. Umunhum is not one of them. 

In 2012 Mid-Pen’s Board decided that if the Tower was to be preserved, it would need to be funded 100% by private contributions. About $1.5 million are required, no later than 2017, to spare the wrecking ball. In 2013 the Mid-Pen Board reiterated that position. Their Board has made it quite clear that if private efforts to raise funds for the Tower fall short – even by a small amount – then the Tower will be demolished.

The Umunhum Conservancy ( was founded in 2012 to answer that call, and is engaged in fundraising to preserve the Tower. We would welcome a change of heart by the Mid-Pen Board, but as of now it is quite clear that no Measure AA funds will be used to preserve the Tower.

The Mercury News is correct, Mt. Umunhum is a jewel, and can indeed be a landmark comparable to Mt. Tamalpais or Mt. Diablo. Both of those mountains have iconic structures at their peak. We hope Mt. Umunhum still does as well, once Measure AA’s funds allow the public to visit.

…Sam Drake, President, Umunhum Conservancy