Social media raves, combined with positive exposure in a major metropolitan daily newspaper, touched off a stampede of visitors three years ago that continues to this day. With limited parking, the county has also put out more than 100 “no parking” signs on Mount Vernon Road and along Mears Drive in an effort to send elsewhere visitors who have arrived too late to snag a parking spot. About 25 overflow parking spaces have been added. But still the cars keeping coming, forcing a ranger to be posted at the entrance to turn visitors away.
It was Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery who mentioned the lack of a cell signal.
Andy Fisher of the parks division said that the park does have a landline at the parking lot for emergency calls but that staff is working with providers to see if the signal can be boosted at the rural Placer County park.
Lisa Carnahan, also of the parks division, said that a review of environmental factors in a planned expansion of trails at the park will be looking at ways to alleviate future parking challenges. That investigation will include seeing whether property owners adjacent to parklands would provide a private parking lot with a gate into the Hidden Falls lands.
Before that or other Hidden Falls changes occur, the process will include community meetings over the next year before a revamped plan returns to the board for consideration, she said. Related to future planning, the board approved a contract with AECOM Technical Services for a $250,000 contract to produce an environmental review on the expansion.
Fisher outlined several options for present parking woes, including a shuttle from the Placer County Government Center and pay parking. He said the county was developing an online reservation system for parking spaces during peak periods. He said that the reservations would include a payment but said after the meeting that no fee structure had been established.
There are no plans to pursue the shuttle idea, which runs about $2,000 a day, Fisher said. Point-of-payment pay parking is another potential way to deal with parking that is not now being pursued, he said.
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