Dec 182020

Rancho Palos Verdes approves pilot shuttle program to help alleviate traffic issues at reserves

Public use of the 1,400 acre Palos Verdes Nature Preserve has increased substantially over the past decade according to Rancho Palos Verdes city officials.

This is due in part to social media extolling the virtues of its hiking and beautiful views, but the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down many in-door activities, has exacerbated the issue for residents who have raised concerns about traffic, noise and their quality of life in general.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council approved a 90-day pilot shuttle program that will begin in March as one mitigation to balance resident’s concerns while enhancing public access to its 12 reserves including its busiest —Portuguese Bend Reserve, Filiorum Reserve, Forrestal Reserve, 3 Sisters Reserve as well as Del Cerro Park.

Senior Administrative Analyst Katie Lozano said the shuttle program could help disperse use away from the Del Cerro neighborhood, which she said has been “treated as the front door to the entire Palos Verdes Nature Preserve” for years.

The City Council has already put temporary parking restrictions along Crenshaw Boulevard, south of Crest Road, at the trailhead closest to Del Cerro Park, which started in September, and could end in March.

The 24-people capacity shuttle, which will include handicap access for one visitor, will have several stops along Palos Verdes Drive South and have a its hub at the Point Vicente Park/Civic Center. The shuttle will not stop in residential areas, Lozano said. A contract with Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority will be discussed by the city in January.

“The city is exploring the idea of a shuttle ambassador to ride along in the shuttle and share public safety rules and interpretive information with riders,” Lozano said at the meeting. “The Land Conservancy has generously offered to help provide a volunteer.”

At its Jan. 19 meeting, the City Council will also consider establishing a parking app system for the Del Cerro area, which could be operational by March. The first few months of operation will be for education, outreach and information gathering, said Matt Waters, a senior administrative analyst.

“The goal of this was to address traffic concerns and circling patterns of people driving around looking for parking spaces that was negatively affecting residents in that area,” said Waters.

Waters said the system by ParkMobile uses ground sensors and smartphone app technology that could operate in blocks of time or hourly, as well as charge different rates at different times of the day and week, or offer free parking in different areas. The system has the ability for users and city staff to see how crowded an area is before arriving. The city can also determine how long people are staying.

City officials plan to install sensors at 67 spaces on Crenshaw Boulevard and another 17 spaces at Del Cerro Park.

In January, the City Council will continue discussion on parking and traffic in the area. Nearly 30 residents spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, expressing their concerns on the impact on their daily lives due to the influx of visitors.

Resident Michael Ungar said he has seen people falling asleep in their cars, and drinking and smoking. He added there was a burglary across the street from his home and he has had to call police.

“What we would like is to have our community quiet, have our privacy back and not be the national park for all of Southern California,” Ungar said.

Resident Herb Stark said the biggest impact is on the weekends.

“The solution is to have an online registration system, limiting the number that can enter at a particular point based upon the available parking,” Stark said.

Cory Linder, director of RPV’s Recreation and Parks, said the overall goal is not to increase the amount of parking spots, but to “equally redistribute the parking and use other more appropriate parts.”

“The goal is to balance the parking and use while minimizing impacts in the community,” Linder said.

Three part-time parking enforcement personnel, who will work Friday through Sunday and holidays, are expected to start work in January, according to Lozano. They will also work as Preserve access ambassadors, she said, positioned at or near trailheads.

To also help alleviate traffic, the city installed a gate at Burma Road trailhead in November and another will be installed at Rattlesnake trailhead in March. These are the most popular access roads to the Preserve, according to the city. Around 240,000 people annually use these trailheads.

The city has been promoting the Civic Center, which is currently undergoing a beautification project, as well as other trailheads, as an alternative access point to the Preserve, Lozano said, since the Civic Center has two public parking lots, a public restrooms, and a dog park.


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