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Cottonwood Heights Journal

City votes to restrict parking near canyon trailhead

Jan 20, 2021 09:58AM ● By Cassie Goff

Overflow parking for the Ferguson Trailhead will be available in fall 2021. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Calder)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

In September 2020, the Cottonwood Heights City Journal reported on a resident petition that was needed in order to implement a permit-parking-only area around the Ferguson Trailhead (7721 Timberline Dr.) in Cottonwood Heights. That petition has since been formed, signed, submitted, edited and unanimously approved by the Cottonwood Heights City Council.

Kelly Calder submitted a petition to extend permit parking on Prospector Drive to the City of Cottonwood Heights with 15 signatures on Oct. 15, 2020. The petition requested that a permit-parking-only area be implemented on Prospector Drive from approximately 7800 South to 7920 South. Public parking would be restricted within that neighborhood. 

“This is a situation that continues to get more severe as time goes on and there’s more interest in hiking trails,” Calder said. “As everyone is trying to get up on the trail, property owners have to deal with annoyances from people outside of the community. I’ve had dirty diapers and beer bottles on my lawn.”

In order for a resident petition of this nature to be considered by the city council, signatures from over 51% of those in the affected area are required. Calder’s petition had 15 signatures out of the 19 properties affected: 79%. 

“Everyone was enthusiastic about getting this implemented. It really does impact everybody,” Calder reported. He shared a story from his neighbor about how she recently scheduled work on her home on a Saturday afternoon. With all the parked automobiles, the workers could not bring in their equipment. 

As the Cottonwood Heights City Council deliberated over this petition, one major factor consistently contributed to the conversation. There is a plan to construct a parking lot in 2021 to capture that overflow parking from the trailhead. 

“It will eliminate the need to park outside of the overflow parking lot,” said Community and Economic Development Director Michael Johnson. 

The overflow parking lot will have 70 stalls. As of publication, the design process for the parking lot was scheduled to begin next month. Once designed, construction has been scheduled to begin in the summer. As long as everything stays on schedule, the parking lot will be completed by the end of fall. 

“This has been the biggest issue people have brought up to me,” said Cottonwood Heights Councilmember for District 4 Christine Mikell. “I support the petition. I love that people are using our trails and mountains. The overflow parking will be (0.3) miles from the trailhead. It’s making it so all of us need to walk. It seems reasonable and rational.” 

On Dec. 1, 2020, a public hearing was held for this petition. A few of Calder’s neighbors spoke in support of the petition, while a few other residents voiced their opposition. 

Sam Fisher, a neighbor who signed the petition, said, “Every weekend is busy from May until September. My primary concern in safety and lack of visibility. I’ve experienced delays accessing my own driveway, guests can’t find parking, and on one occasion an unleashed dog ran into my home.”

David Hancock told the city council that he was supportive of the petition, as long as Quicksilver Drive could be considered for permit-parking-only as well. “We are concerned that the parking will just move over to Quicksilver. Our street is extremely narrow, too narrow for a sidewalk; we only have one. We are empathetic to Prospector Drive and support the petition, as long as we are included.”

Resident Katie Brown told the council there was a need for signage. “There is not awareness that there is overflow parking. Make it easy for people to access the trail for the overflow parking lot.” 

A handful of residents opposed the petition. “Public roads should have public parking. No parking zones just push the parking down the neighborhood. How far do we push the no parking zones?” asked Brendan Dodge.

Calder addressed the point of public roads brought up by many residents. “There was a Supreme Court case in October 1997, Board vs. Richards…The ordinance rationally promotes that residents are protected from unreasonable burdens.” 

Calder explained how the case was similar as it considered restrictions on commuter parking. The case was first heard by the Virginia Supreme Court and they ruled in favor of the commuters. However, the Board of Arlington County took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was overruled.

After hearing many comments from the public, the city council spent two weeks considering the issue. On Dec. 15, 2020, the city council voted on Resolution 2020-58 “Designing a Portion of Prospector Drive as a Parking Permit Area (designating a portion of Prospector Drive from approximately 7800 South to 7920 South as a parking permit area pursuant to Cottonwood Heights Code Chapter 11.22 due the unusually heavy on-street parking demands caused by its proximity to nearby trails and trailheads).” 

Councilmembers Tali Bruce and Scott Bracken voiced their hesitancy before voting. “I’m struggling with the 14th amendment. I’m a little torn about it,” Bruce said.

“I’d prefer that streets be open for the public,” Bracken said.

Councilmember Mikell reiterated why she was supportive of this petition. “Residents voiced concern and begged us for help. We had an agreement with Salt Lake County for the overflow parking lot. (Mayor Mike Peterson), (City Manager Tim Tingey) and others worked to bring that funding to our city. I think this is the best solution.”