The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council at its Tuesday, Feb. 16 meeting put the finishing touches on a parking program they hope will alleviate traffic and noise issues at the popular Palos Verdes Nature Preserve.
As more people enjoy the great outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic, the picturesque Portuguese Bend Reserve and Del Cerro Park have become increasingly more crowded with hikers jockeying for parking, performing illegal U-turns and neighbors complaining about noise and vandalism in the area.
City Council's plan calls for a combination of an app-based parking system for reserving spaces, parking ambassadors to patrol the area and a weekend shuttle program.
According to city staff, there will be a total of 84 reserved parking spaces on Crenshaw Boulevard, between Park Place and Crest Road, as well as along Park Place, the entrance to Del Cerro Park.
Of those 84 spaces, 17 at Del Cerro Park must eventually be free and open to the public because they sit on land that was conveyed to the city of Rancho Palos Verdes by the Department of the Interior.
Another 10 spaces, which are currently red-curbed and unavailable, are proposed to be resident-only parking once a traffic analysis is completed, according to Megan Barnes, spokesperson for the city.
Beginning in March, visitors must reserve parking spaces—free or paid—through the ParkMobile App.
City council approved use of the ParkMobile app at its Jan. 19 meeting. The system uses ground sensors and smartphone technology that can establish various blocks of time and set varying parking rates through the day or week.
For the paid parking spots, council approved a $10 fee for a three-hour block of time. But, parking along Crenshaw, between Park Place and Crest Road, will be free Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Del Cerro Park is open from 7 a.m. until one hour after sunset daily.
A 15-minute buffer has also been added to time blocks.
"This addresses a concern that if cars are leaving... and cars are showing up," said Matt Waters, senior administrative analyst with the Recreation and Parks Department, at the meeting. "This may cause a bit of a problem of people searching, waiting for a spot to open. We're honestly not sure how big a problem this will be."
Waters said city staff and ParkMobile App will evaluate the data over the next few months to see how the system is operating.
Waters said six parking zones will be used as part of the app system because it guides the user to a "particular spot and zone" rather than "having to go all the way through the whole area circulating looking for the very best spot."
"The app will tell them where the best spot is available on a zone-by-zone basis," Waters said. "So this will hopefully alleviate some of the traffic congestion that's been experienced by local residents in the area and make things simpler for park users."
On Tuesday, council also approved expanding the hours and days of park ambassadors "to effectively enforce the parking fee system in the area," according to a staff report. The parking enforcement will be expanded to seven days a week, including holidays, at $110,000 a year.
Council had approved weekend-only parking enforcement staff at a cost of $40,000 in October, but increased its budget for that item. The ambassadors will be paid through the parking fees.
"Parking ambassadors will be part-time Recreation and parks employees working up to a maximum of 28 hours per week," read the staff report.
At its Tuesday meeting, Council also approved more details for the weekend shuttle which would run from the City Hall parking lot.
The shuttle, funded by grant money, will begin in late March or early April, according to Barnes. It will run Friday through Sunday and on holidays. Council approved that as a 90-day pilot program in December. It still needs to be approved by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority Board of Directors.
City Council designated four shuttle stops: Alta Vicente Reserve/Civic Center, Point Vicente Interpretive Center, Abalone Cove Shoreline Park and the Portuguese Bend Reserve. Council also approved amenities at the shuttle stops including informational kiosks, signage, trash cans and benches, as well as $5,000 to complete improvements.
"PV Transit is going through some dry runs," said Cory Linder, the city's director of Recreation & Parks. "It's looking like it might be anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic and so forth, to do a complete loop."
Council also approved $40,000 to fund Upper Point Vicente Park and Civic Center improvements including beautification of the North Spur, South Spur, Nike and Prickly Pear Trailheads. This includes increased trailhead visibility, informational kiosks, ground covering and landscaping, benches and trash cans.
*Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect 17 parking spots will eventually be made available to the public. When the ParkMobile App first launches, however, they will be for RPV residents only.