Ridgeside Drive just north of the entry point to the the Hillside Wilderness Area.
At its next meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m., the Monrovia City Council will likely declare the Hillside Wilderness Area an official park and kinda-sorta-ish restrict parking on Ridgeside, next to one of the main trail entrances to the area. (It will also limit parking near other entry points, but those are narrow, twisting roads and I reluctantly understand the need for limiting parking in those areas.)
As you can see in the photo above, this section of Ridgeside Drive next to the trail entrance is flat, wide, straight, long, with no homes on either side, and is even - as best I can tell - out of the line of sight of any local homes, ideal for parking. Nevertheless it is being made parking-by-permit-only. Even some residents of Ridgeside don't want this. So why do it?
I emailed and spoke by phone with City Manager Oliver Chi about this, and the reason is simple: "[T]he establishment of an on-street permit parking program," he wrote, "was a requirement that had to be fulfilled before the City could obtain the easement needed to formalize entry into the Hillside Wilderness Preserve through the Ridgeside Access Point."
In other words, if the city didn't agree to parking-by-permit-only along Ridgeside, it wouldn't have obtained an easement so it could open the gate to the Wilderness Area.
Chi added that this "pilot program" will not be a "formal permit parking program managed by law enforcement personnel." Instead, "our initial plans are to enforce the parking restriction on a complaint basis. If a complaint is received, a member of our Public Services Department team will be dispatched to the site and rather than issuing a ticket, we will attempt to resolve the situation by providing background information and education regarding why the pilot permit parking program was instituted."
So, you won't get a ticket for parking there, and probably nobody will complain if you park in the area just north of the entry point (the area I show in the picture above). And if somebody does complain, well, I guess you'll have to move your car a bit.
And just in case you were wondering, there has not been a problem with cars clogging Ridgeside.
Chi again: "[T]here are no significant concerns regarding the parking situation on Ridgeside Drive today. We really have not received complaints regarding those who [are] currently parking on Ridgeside Drive to access the Hillside Wilderness Preserve through the Ridgeside Access Point. The concern that has been raised, and what the proposed pilot permit parking program is attempting to address, is the possibility that with the trail system connecting Ridgeside to Cloverleaf now complete, the use of the Hillside Wilderness Preserve will increase."
I highly doubt this will be a problem, but I'll comment on why I think so below.
However, this is not the end of the story.
"If the parking situation does not change from current usage levels, we do plan on revisiting the matter and we will attempt to make modifications to the pilot permit parking program to ease the restrictions. Conversely, if the parking situation deteriorates and causes a significant impact on the residential neighborhood, we will look to enhance the parking restrictions."
Since I don't think parking will be a problem... Good!
Okay, here are a few more thoughts:
1. The temporary signs that are posted now are posted all the way along Ridgecrest from Canyon Boulevard to Oakglade Drive, however the proposed parking-by-permit area as described in the staff report ( https://goo.gl/pm0gid ) proposes the area only be from Briarcliff Drive to Oakglade Drive, so the signs have been posted outside the designated area.
2. I think the permanent signs should be re-written to indicate more specifically that you won't get a ticket for parking in that area. Something like, "This provision is enforced by complaint. Those not in compliance may be asked to move their vehicles."
3. I do not believe the full opening of the Cloverleaf access point to the Hillside Wilderness Area will result in many more people parking on Ridgeside. That may seem opposite of what you would think, so let me defend my assertion.
I think the people who park at Ridgecrest will be the same people who park there now - people who just want to hike to the top of the hill and then back down to their car. Opening Cloverleaf makes no difference to this group of people since they weren't going to Cloverleaf anyway. The situation is totally unchanged for them and there is no reason their numbers would increase in any noteworthy way.
And as for those hikers who are going to hike the full trail, they'll probably get back to their car by making a loop up city streets. But in that case it doesn't really matter where they start. They could park on any street between Cloverleaf and Ridgeside and still walk the same distance. There is no particular attraction to parking on Ridgeside. If you make a loop around a circular track, it doesn't matter where you start, you are going to travel the same distance.
So, anyway, I very much hope the city will revisit this and attempt to work things out, because I really don't see that this should be a problem for anybody.
- Brad Haugaard