Park survey results needed to tweak parking regulations

Despite concerns over parking at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, the city’s efforts to survey the problem have been received with lacking interest, according to Claremont officials.

Of 220 surveys mailed out to residents living on streets near the bustling park, only 81 surveys—37 percent—were returned, shared City Manager Tony Ramos.

Since the opening of the park’s expanded north parking lot, and enforcement of the lot’s now metered parking, many locals have vocalized concern that eager Wilderness Park hikers are finding loopholes to avoid paying. In recent months, several residents living near the park, particularly those on Pomello and Mills, have share with the Claremont City Council that Pomello Drive, just south of Mt. Baldy Road and the southernmost lot, has become an alternative-parking destination.

In an effort to address fear over displaced parking problems, city officials first sought to survey those directly impacted—the residents of the neighborhoods adjacent to the park with the goal of issuing permit parking for some streets while outright restricting parking on others.

Based on the feedback of the select surveys that were returned, it is clear there is a significant problem perceived on Pomello Drive and Mills Avenue, according to Mr. Ramos. When it comes to other nearby streets, however, the problem becomes less clear.

Mr. Ramos says the city will send out a second survey and make further attempts at contacting residents in hopes of soliciting greater feedback.

In the meantime, city staff members continue work on putting together a wilderness park master plan to address long-term goals like addressing parking issues. Brian Desatnik, director of community development presented an oral report on the planned scope of this master plan at the Claremont Planning Commission’s meeting on Tuesday. Mr. Desatnik explained that the proposed plan would include a study of the park’s existing parking facilities as well as entertain the idea of adding additional designated parking areas.

“If usage [of the park] continues at its current rate that lot may not be sufficient,” Mr. Desatnik recognized. “That could mean creating new parking lots at other access points or expanding lots that are already there.”

While noting the city’s intent to explore the possibility of expanding parking facilities, Mr. Desatnik added that the city’s intent is to examine strategies on how to fill up the existing parking lots first.  

The wilderness park master plan will not be limited to parking, however. Staff will also include a list of park inventory—restrooms, trash receptacles, etc.—in the master plan, as well as a list of park access points, such as the western terminus on Pomello and Mountain Avenue. The hired master plan consultant will be asked to look for possible expansions to the wilderness trails and determine what the different ways those trails are being used—for hiking, biking and so forth.

The consultant in charge of the master plan will also be asked to analyze the wilderness park hours, another area of contention for wilderness park users.

The Claremont City Council will be tasked with approving the Request for Proposal in order to locate a consultant to draw up this master plan. It is expected to come before council on July 9 with the goal of hiring a consultant in the fall.

It is unknown how long it will take to complete the master plan, but Mr. Desatnik estimates it will take at least a year. He assured the creation of the master plan would not be a process left solely to the devices of the hired executor of the plan.

“There will be an extensive public participation element to the master plan process that will involve not just most of the city commissions, but also stakeholders, the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy and other interested groups.”

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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