The Claremont Wilderness Park, with its spectacular hiking trails and stunning views, will no longer be completely free to all.
Beginning today, those parking in the Wilderness Park lot north of Mills Avenue, will be required to display a permit or pay a meter fee.
The city of Claremont has added a parking lot to hold 150 vehicles with parking meters.
The fees are necessary, said city officials, to maintain the area.
“The more wear and tear, the more the litter removal,” said city spokeswoman Bevin Handel. “The fees that we are collecting from the annual pass and for the meters will help us maintain the park.”
In the past five years, the wilderness park has grown from 30,000 to 300,000 people visiting annually.
The parking lot was never made to accommodate so many people using the Wilderness Park, parking on the street in residential areas and in empty fields has become a hazardous situation, city officials said.
Claremont residents and Claremont college students will be entitled to free parking permits through 2015.
Non-residents can purchase a yearly permit for $100 which will expire in December. The permits purchased will be pro-rated.
Daily visitors can purchase a four-hour parking permit for $3.
“They did several city meetings to get a happy medium. You aren’t going to be able to please everyone but I think we got to a point that is really good,” Handel said.
Local residents and non-residents who use the trail daily question the fees.
“The amount they charge far exceeds the amount needed,” said Bill Lincoln, a La Verne resident who uses the park. “There is very little trash and the trail is already maintained.”
“I don’t mind paying but it’s excessive, that will exclude many people,” said Claude Bibeau, a Rancho Cucamonga resident who also enjoys the Wilderness Park.
Claremont Residents must have proof of residency to receive a permit. Claremont college students must bring form of student ID and vehicle registration to receive a permit.
“Parking is a high commodity and we know there is not a lot of parking but a lot of people,” said Lauren Marshall, a management analyst for Claremont.
Handel said citations will start at $35 for the first violation and will increase to $100 by the third citation.
“It could be cheaper, since the California Trail Pass is around the same price,” Tayler Sniffen, junior art major said.
“I think it should stay free for everyone like it has been,” Jose Quintanilla, sophomore legal studies major said.
The Claremont Wilderness Park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parking permits can be purchased at the Claremont City Hall, Alexander Hughes Community Center as well as the meters located at the Claremont Wilderness Park.
For information about the Claremont Wilderness Park permits call 909-399-5490 or visit the city website at www.ci.claremont.ca.us.
Monique Parra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.