Price increased to enjoy Claremont’s wilderness playground

It will soon cost you $3 every 4 hours, or $100 annually to park at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.

The Claremont City Council Tuesday approved the parking charges 5-0 along with a $33,000 contract for the purchase of parking meters from Pacific Parking Systems, Inc. An additional $5,000 for paper costs and extra parts associated will also be designated.

City staff will still explore possible price differences associated with leasing the meters instead. Meter installation is anticipated for early October, following the completion of expansions to the Wilderness Loop’s north parking lot. The council approved the metered parking with the agreement that it would be reviewed again in one year’s time or sooner if deemed necessary.

“I think there is going to be a lot of fluctuation…and we need to have that flexibility of trying to manage what the right price will be,” Councilmember Sam Pedroza said. “I think staff needs the flexibility of being able to fluctuate accordingly.”

Councilmember Corey Calaycay hesitantly added his support for the fees, uncomfortable ticketing those that may accidentally go over the 4-hour time limit because unaware of how long it takes them complete the Loop.

“I’d rather know we have a problem…and address it then rather than now assuming everybody is going to it within 4 hours,” Mr. Calaycay said.

The same issue was previously addressed by the city council at a meeting in March. The 4-hour increment was decided upon because of its compatibility with other parking systems.

“In all other parking systems it’s based on time. You pay for the amount of time you want to park,” City Manager Tony Ramos said.

Mr. Ramos noted the time limit can be brought back to the council if issues such as Mr. Calaycay suggested do arise.

“Our goal is to not give citations for people after paying for parking there,” Mr. Ramos said. “We could always bring that back and adjust that.”

While the 4-hour increment will remain, the price of the annual pass has been increased from its original proposal because of the fear that a $50 charge would be too low.

“It’s low enough that it’s going to create a situation where everyone’s going to be buying the annual passes because they think they are getting around the $3,” Mr. Calaycay said.

Two meters will be placed in the north lot at Mills Avenue with the third meter in the south lot. Parking lot users will asked to use a debit or credit card to pay for their spot. Cash will not be accepted.

“The majority of users are accustomed to that and prefer that,” explained Brian Desatnik, director of community development. “It vastly simplifies the maintenance and operational responsibilities for the city.

Trailblazers will park and then insert their payment along with the number corresponding with the parking spot into the centralized meter at the front of the lot. A receipt will be given, but will not need to be placed back in the car because parking enforcers will be able to regulate from the meter itself. This plan was modified from previous discussions of a receipt placed in a window because of concerns with noise and convenience, according to Mr. Desatnik.

“We were really trying to minimize the number of trips back to the vehicle and the number of car doors opening and closing,” he explained.

Annual pass holders will be given a decal for their car. Claremont residents will still be allowed to park in the south lot for free with a special sticker. Those who attempt to use that sticker in the north lot will be fined. Annual passholders as well as those with a Claremont resident decal are not guaranteed a spot in either lot.

Though recognizing possible roadblocks ahead with its new metered system, the council moves forward keeping in mind that minor adjustments might be needed along the way.

“We still don’t know the impacts of this charge. Nobody may park there or everybody is going to be parking on the streets down the hill from there,” Mayor Pro Temp Opanyi Nasiali said. Everything up there is going to be under review for a while.”

—Beth Hartnett


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