Committee approves parking restrictions by trailhead

The 29-space parking lot at the Cedar Creek Falls trailhead could not accommodate all the hikers' vehicles, nearby residents said. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
The 29-space parking lot at the Cedar Creek Falls trailhead could not accommodate all the hikers' vehicles, nearby residents said. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

A request for parking prohibitions in San Diego Country Estates near the Cedar Creek Falls trailhead received approval from the county’s Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) on Friday, July 22, but the final outcome may rest with the U.S. Forest Service.

Steve Venolia, a homeowner on Love Lane, was at the TAC meeting and said, “It was very productive. I probably couldn’t have asked for a better resolution.”

Although the committee agreed to the parking prohibition request, it still has to go to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and then, if approved, will go into reserve, pending a decision about the re-opening of the Cedar Creek Falls trail, said Venolia.

“They’re waiting for a resolution from the U.S. Forest Service,” he explained.

The Cedar Creek Falls trail and trailhead are closed while the forest service works on a better plan to manage the crowds that have shown up at the popular trail.

When the forest service created the trailhead at the end of Thornbush Road, the 29-space parking lot was not able to accommodate all the vehicles. Homeowners living near the trailhead complained of people speeding on the residential streets and parking their cars throughout the neighborhood, sometimes blocking driveways and destroying landscaping.

Looking for a solution, homeowners went to the Ramona Community Planning Group, asking for a parking prohibition to be put in place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The planning group approved the request, which then went to the Traffic Advisory Committee.

Venolia said he and about five other homeowners, along with Mario Trejo, general manager of San Diego Country Estates, were at the TAC meeting. Also there, Venolia said, was Carl Hickman, a member of the planning group and a traffic engineer with the county’s Department of Public Works.

Joan Friedlander, district ranger for the U.S. Forest Services Palomar Ranger District, also attended the meeting and was in support of the parking restrictions, Venolia said.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” he added.

The forest service has reported the trail will beclosed until Nov. 8, if deemed appropriate.

If, when it re-opens, a system is put into place that will require permits to hike the trail, Venolia said the numbers should decrease and the parking prohibitions may not be necessary. But, if hundreds of people are still allowed to show up and hike on the weekends, the restrictions will be able to go into effect.

Venolia said he’s confident the forest service realizes there is a big problem and something will be done to offset the crowds.

Right now, Venolia said, the homeowners are enjoying peace and quiet in their neighborhood again.

“At this point we’re loving our silence on the weekends,” he said.

He is not against re-opening the trail, but said, “I think we need to come up with a workable solution. Hopefully we’ll get it back opened up so the community can enjoy it,”

If the parking restrictions are needed, streets that will be affected are Cathedral Way, Sugarplum Way, Thornbush Road, Love Lane, Cherish Way and Bellbottom Way.

   
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