With new restrictions, where will all the cars go? Plus other council news

The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park’s expanded parking lot may not be finished, but the Claremont City Council isn’t waiting to address traffic issues on Mills Avenue and Mt. Baldy Road. With the council’s vote Tuesday night, sections of street parking on the 2 Wilderness Park thoroughfares will soon be restricted.

Beginning with the opening of the expanded north parking lot at North Mills Avenue—set for February, depending on weather—all parking on Mills Avenue north of Pomello Drive will be restricted, along with that on Mt. Baldy Road from Mills Avenue to Via Padova.

The council made the same direction to staff at a May 8 meeting while simultaneously rejecting a proposal for horizontal on-street parking spaces. The item was revisited this week to clear up confusion arising at the last council meeting.

The council reaffirmed its original decision on Tuesday despite some public opposition, standing by its resolve to mitigate safety concerns surrounding the congestion of streets adjacent to the Wilderness Park.

“The staff recommendation pretty much captures all of the issues we have previously discussed…that it is a safety issue,” said Councilmember Joe Lyons, adding, “I want to maintain the option…to open up additional parking along Mills on the west side, but at this point I don’t see the need to do that.”

With approval from all councilmembers except Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali, the council also gave direction to include a study of the parking on the west side of Mills Avenue, from Pomello to Mt. Baldy Road, in its overarching study of parking on streets near the Wilderness Park. Mr. Nasiali opposed the decision because he believes the city is already aware of the parking issue.

Residents, on the other hand, remain split on the matter. Several of those vocal at Tuesday night’s meeting were displeased with the council’s latest decision with the Wilderness area’s parking situation, viewing the move as possibly premature.

“I think this is a good proposal for basically driving people into the parking lot where they pay…I do think there are some questions to ask, hough,” said Lissa Peterson. “What if the parking lots are full? Where are people going to park if Baldy Road and Mills south of Baldy Road are red-lined?”

Ms. Peterson also brought the safety issue into question: “Have there been any accidents? Have there been any injuries? How serious is the safety problem?” she inquired.

“Why put restrictions on parking before you know what’s going to happen?” Ms. Peterson continued. “I hope you keep asking critical questions about it and will work toward that bigger [parking master] plan, which is really what’s going to help solve the whole problem.”

While sticking to its previous decision to restrict street parking when the metered parking lots open, the council agreed to take Ms. Peterson’s suggestion into account, evaluating the parking situation in a year’s time or sooner if necessary.

“We did receive the concerns about safety on that stretch there,” Councilmember Corey Calaycay reiterated. “I have a real issue with the street parking. I believe that we have a responsibility of providing on-site parking as we require for other heavy use venues in the community.”


Money allocated for Route 66 repairs

In a less controversial move, the council has taken the first step in upgrading Foothill Boulevard following the relinquishment of the famous street by Caltrans last summer.

Along with the rights to its portion of Foothill Boulevard, Claremont was given $5.7 million to make necessary repairs and enhancements. With unanimous approval, city officials will begin putting $350,000 of that money to immediate use, conducting needed repairs to the street. Work will include traffic signal, drainage and accessibility improvements to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city will also begin searching for a consulting team to bring their overarching goals for Foothill Boulevard into reality. Improvements along Foothill as a whole will be completed in 3 phases: immediate fixes approved by the council, remaining improvements using the relinquishment funds and additional improvements including repairing sidewalks, installing audible pedestrian signals and adding a protected left-hand turn lane on Mountain Avenue, as well as additional roadway repairs deemed necessary by the proposed master plan.

“Staff anticipates that the resulting master plan will define the community’s vision for Foothill Boulevard, prioritize improvements and provide for the effective and fiscally prudent use of relinquishment funds,” said senior planner Chris Veirs.


Council includes unincorporated land in sewer policy

As the council makes changes to city streets, it’s also making changes to long-standing policy. The council unanimously supported modifying the city’s sewer policy to include the unincorporated areas along the Claremont borders.

Under the policy change, residents in the “Horseshoe area,” north of Base Line Road and west of Mountain Avenue and along Via Padova north of Mt. Baldy Road, will have the option to hook up to the city’s sewer system, should they choose.

Permit fees and construction costs associated with connecting these areas to the city’s sewer system will be absorbed by participating property owners and are estimated at about $20,000 per property, according to Brian Desatnik, director of community development.

The council hoped their favorable decision would help those residents interested in moving away from septic tanks and cesspools the opportunity to do so. Multiple property owners within the unincorporated land added their support.  

“This policy at least opens up the door, removes a few obstacles in allowing us to move away from our septic tanks, cleaning up the environment and potentially working in partnership with the city,” said Sandra Esslinger. “It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

—Beth Hartnett



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