Last night there was a liaison meeting between the City of Fremont and the East Bay Regional Park District. The main point of interest was the recent reduction in hours that hikers may use the Stanford Avenue entrance to Mission Peak. A number of hikers complained that they did not like the new hours. A number of local residents said they were happy with the change in hours as it has reduced the impacts the park has had on their neighborhood. It was also noted that the reduction in the number of hikers has allowed for the District to better maintain the park.
To summarize the issue, there has been a recent boom in the number of people hiking up Mission Peak via the Stanford Avenue entrance. This entrance is simply not equipped to handle this increase. The 42 stall parking lot fills quickly with several hundred cars parking in the nearby neighborhood. The impact to the neighborhood and the damage to the park caused by the increase in the number of hikers led to a situation where something had to be done quickly to reduce the number of hikers.
At a meeting between City and Park District staff that I attended a couple of months ago, it was agreed upon that one immediate step that could be done was to reduce the park hours. This was considered reasonable as many nearby parks have similar hours and hikers can still use the Ohlone College trailhead to access Mission Peak when the Stanford Avenue entrance is closed.
The next step is likely to be hiker fees. While this may not seem fair, it should be noted that fees are required at many other East Bay and South Bay facilities. I do think the fact that Stanford Avenue is one of the few free locations for hikers in the area is one of the factors contributing to the large increase in activity there. The City of Fremont staff is willing to take on the implementation of hiker fees and was hoping to get this implemented by next April. However, it was indicated last night that the Park District has implemented per vehicle fees but has never implemented a per hiker fee. This will need to be considered by the District before we can proceed.
Overall this has been a difficult issue. I fully believe we need to provide access to anyone interested in hiking Mission Peak and I like the idea that something in Fremont has become a real regional attraction. However, we have to make sure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to make sure that the level of hikers can be properly accommodated. This will take some long-term solutions that the City of Fremont and the Park District are committed to making.
The one other agenda item of note was the progress on the Dumbarton Quarry project. The eastern portion of the project (Phase I) is proceeding well with an expected completion date of 2016. Phase II involves filling of the giant hole dug by the quarry. While this is proceeding well, it isn’t expected to be filled until 2020.