Wilderness Park parking fees begin in September (updated)

All users of the Claremont Hills Wilderness park, whether Claremont residents or not, will soon be charged for parking.

The Claremont City Council reached consensus on the matter Tuesday night after a lengthy back-and-forth discussion, and numerous additions to the originally proposed amendment to expand parking and charge fees at the popular hiking destination.

In addition to the expansion of the park’s north lot, located on Mills Avenue, the city council voted to charge $3 for every 4 hours, or $50 for an annual pass, for parking vehicles parked within any of designated parking areas. Other amendments include conducting ongoing analysis regarding a possible new entrance to the park, creating an enterprise fund solely for wilderness park revenue, and the use of parking receipts with coupons for those charged for parking.

While several residents and Councilmember Sam Pedroza addressed their concerns regarding expansion costs and issues of enforcement beyond parking issues, council members ultimately agreed that the most important issue at hand is moving the expansion project forward without further delay.

“Something needs to be done otherwise we are letting a bad situation continue,” said Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali. “We are at a point where we can provide that solution at least to ease some of the pain that the residents are experiencing, to create a safe situation for motorists in the area, and just for convenience sake to have…a place [for park users] to put their automobiles.”

Though the north lot expansion was originally approved by the council in early December, changes were needed in order to reach a lease agreement with the Pomona Valley Protective Association (PVPA), who owns a portion of the land. The PVPA, who also serves La Verne, Pomona and Upland, was unwilling to move forward with the project if users outside of the Claremont area were going to be charged, according to Brian Desatnik, director of community development.

In order to remedy this, Councilmember Corey Calaycay added an additional amendment, passed 4-1, for a portion of the parking on city-owned land in the south lot to be designated as free parking opportunities for Claremont users. The number of free spaces has yet to be determined and could be a limited amount.

It was on these grounds that caused Councilmember Joe Lyons to give the only dissenting vote Tuesday night. Mr. Lyons said that though he was originally supportive of not charging Claremont residents for parking, his view was changed after hearing issues of morality discussed by several speakers during Tuesday night’s public comment.

Parking fees will take effect following completion of the north lot expansion, anticipated in September.

The full story will be published in the Saturday edition of the COURIER.  

—Beth Hartnett

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