Hikers on their way to Mt. Diablo State Park trails who have been parking on Regency Drive in Clayton will soon have to pony up for the $6 fee at the Mitchell Canyon trailhead. The Council approved a plan at the Feb. 5 meeting to designate permit only parking on Regency Drive on weekends.
Residents say the situation has become unbearable since the advent of social media. Several hiking websites, some with international following, direct hikers to Regency Drive to avoid the parking fee at Mitchell Canyon. Regency is not an official “gate” to the park. Access is down a steep, rocky trail.
By early morning on weekends, cars line both sides of the quiet residential street for almost a mile, frequently blocking driveways. Hikers hang out on sidewalks and leave trash behind. Drives speed along the street, are rude to residents and compete aggressively for limited curb space.
“It’s a safety issue,” said Jeff Weiner, a 40-year resident.
Residents first asked the Council for relief last May. The city took some intermediate steps with signage to discourage parking and increased police patrols. It wasn’t enough, Weiner said.
Residents came back to the Council at the January 15 meeting asking for further action.
“We can’t even have a birthday party for our grandkids because there’s no place for people to park,” Weiner told the Council.
Following the January 15 meeting, Councilmembers CW Wolfe and Jeff Wan met with the residents to draft a permit plan, which they presented at the February 5 meeting.
The plan designates the area in front of residences on Regency Drive as permit parking only. It excludes the area that deadends at the park boundary where there is room for about 25 cars.
Residents will pay a nominal permit fee to cover administrative costs.
Mayor Tuija Catalano and Councilmember Julie Pierce both oppose the plan they say gives preferential treatment to one group and merely pushes the problem into other neighborhoods that border the park.
Residential lots in Clayton are zoned for four spaces per resident, Pierce noted.
“I have a very big concern that this is precedent setting for other parts of the community,” she said. “Creating preferential parking on the weekend guarantees them more spaces than the four they were zoned for.
Councilmember Jim Diaz first said he wanted stronger enforcement of existing regulations, but in the end voted for the plan.
The permit parking plan passed 3-2.