Guess what? Parking issues at the Wilderness Park remain unresolved

The parking restrictions continue to mount as use of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park steadily climbs.  

The Claremont City Council Tuesday night added additional permit parking-only zones on three residential cul de sacs next to the bustling wilderness area—Holyoke Place, Macalester Place and Forsyth Place. These permit parking zones are expected to sunset in September 2015, along with a slew of other wilderness loop parking restrictions, as the city works on an overarching master plan to solve lingering parking problems.

Issues of overcrowding, traffic and safety at the wilderness park are not new for the Claremont council, only increasing with the expansion of the northern parking lot on Mills Avenue last year. An attempt to address the hordes of hikers, bicyclists and other nature enthusiasts using the park—estimated at around 300,000 a year—the parking lot has only proved an additional problem as park users find alternative parking spots to avoid the $3 fee, moving the problem further down Mills.

While the council has been quick to address these issues, doling out permit-parking only zones in adjacent neighborhoods and no parking zones along Mills, it is now adopting a different approach. Council members unanimously rejected a request to increase the no parking zone on Mills Avenue from Alamosa to Miramar. Parking is already prohibited from the park entrance to Pomello.

Instead, council is asking city staff to consider a stay on any more requests for permit-only parking and re-evaluate the restrictions on Mills. In an effort to increase visibility while turning, Mayor Pro Tem Corey Calaycay also suggested painting the curbs red at intersections along Mills and adding a more specific time period to the “no parking” restrictions.

“Our own [city speed] survey suggests that there are specific times when there are problems,” Mr. Calaycay noted.

Many at the meeting were supportive of the permit-parking requests, but agreed with Mr. Calaycay that the council is setting a precedent by continuing to grant these restrictions.

“I live in a cul de sac, there are eight of us. If I get eight people to sign a piece of paper saying I want restricted parking, will the council approve it?” questioned Claremont resident Richard Weiner, a park user who serves on the Technical Advisory Committee for the wilderness park master plan.

He and others urged the council to continue working on the master plan before approving any more temporary fixes.

“What’s happening now is the shotgun approach,” he continued. “If you take away that parking, all you do is put a band aid on the problem and move the problem farther and farther down.”

As the council takes a step back, the city moves forward in the process of building a comprehensive parking plan for the Claremont hillside. The next Technical Advisory Committee meeting, open to the public, takes place on May 19 with a community workshop set for July 21.

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