The Draft Environment Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed parking lot at the Stanford Ave. entrance was recently released by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD). The public has until November 30 to provide comments. The draft EIR, the comments, and a response to all of the comments then become a final EIR that will be certified by EBRPD.
On Monday, November 9, EBRPD held a public meeting to present the EIR and receive comments. Many local residents spoke about the impact that the trailhead currently has on their neighborhood and were concerned about latent demand if the parking lot were built. The Draft EIR notes that latent demand is estimated to be 38% of the current demand. (Latent demand is the idea that there are many more people who currently don’t use the entrance but would if there was more parking.) This increased number of hikers would undoubtedly increase the damage that the park is currently experiencing.
A few people argued that the parking lot would be a good thing as it increases access to the park. I am all for access to our parks and think it’s great that so many people are enjoying Mission Peak. However, the problems created by the very high usage at this entrance must be resolved going forward. A strategy must be implemented to reduce the number of hikers using this entrance for the sake of the neighborhood and the park. If the parking lot is to be built, we must ensure that the overall usage of this entrance does not increase.
Fortunately, there is another entrance at Ohlone College where a new 900 unit parking lot has just been built. Efforts need to be made to shift people to this location. The City of Fremont will be discussing the possible implementation of permit parking in the surrounding neighborhood. Another idea of charging hiker fees was rejected by the Park District last year.
The EIR indicates that there would be no charge for parking at the new lot. This makes sense since people would just use the nearby free street parking if they did. But by not charging any fee they are encouraging more people to use this entrance as opposed to the one at Ohlone. EBRPD charges some kind of fee at most of their other park entrances. The same is true of most parks in the South Bay. I believe that the lack of an entrance fee here is part of the reason this entrance is so overused.