OC Parks has modified its improvement plans for Peters Canyon Regional Park in response to concerns expressed by North Tustin residents who live next to it.
Homeowners along Bent Tree and Holly Tree Roads strongly objected to a proposed park entrance on Bent Tree. Bent Tree is a private street maintained by homeowners, and is too narrow to park or turn around on. They also noted that the proposed Bent Tree entrance was not needed, as it was close to the existing access point at Lower Lake Drive. “It’s like encouraging people to trespass,” one resident argued.
Neighbors at the south end of the park at Lower Lake Drive did not want a restroom facility placed there, fearing it would attract more visitors, noise and refuse to that area, which is relatively close to homes.
Last to know
The Bent Tree entrance and restroom locations were on the master plan presented to the public in April. These North Tustin neighbors, however, did not get wind of it until just days before public comments on the plan were due. They rallied, communicated via social media, held an emergency meeting and created a steering committee composed of three HOA presidents and a representative from the Foothill Communities Association.
The steering committee pulled together a meeting with OC Parks’ Scott Thomas, planning and design manager, and Tuan Richardson, plan project manager, and made their case. Thomas and Richardson agreed to remove the Bent Tree entrance and move the Lower Lake restroom eastward, closer to Eucalyptus Trail, pending approvals from the parks director.
The changes were confirmed later than same day, but not in time to alter the printed version of the plan slated to be presented to the OC Parks Commission that week. The neighbors were assured that the modifications would be made clear to the park commissioners before they approved it.
Trust, but verify
To ensure that they were, a contingent from North Tustin attended the OC Parks Commission meeting, June 6. The last-minute modifications were addressed and accepted with little discussion. But the rest of the plan was challenged by members of the OC Bicycle Coalition, who said it should be “thrown out and started over using a different measure of user input.”
In 2015, a preliminary improvement plan for Peters Canyon included a paved bikeway bisecting the park. Commuter cyclists preferred that location because it provided a “safer” alternative than the bikeway that runs along Jamboree Road adjacent to the park. The majority of the park-going public, however, were horrified at the thought of high-speed cyclists barreling down the middle of Peters Canyon, possibly threatening the safety of those on foot. The Peters bikeway plan was scrapped by OC Parks and the bikeway extension – outside park boundaries -- turned over to Public Works (see Proposed Jamboree bikeway, June Sentry).
Despite the jurisdictional transfer, the bicycle coalition has not abandoned hope for a route through Peters Canyon and has made its wishes known to the commissioners. The lengthy discussion did not include Park Commissioner Dave Hansen, owner of JAX Bicycles, who recused himself on the advice of county counsel.
It's the park, not parking
Several commissioners questioned the absence of a parking lot at the south entrance – another sore subject for park neighbors and local users who believe Peters Canyon is already overcrowded. Thomas eventually convinced the commissioners that the park is at, or over, capacity at peak periods, and that parking availability is a means of control. Adding additional parking at the south end would “not produce good outcomes.”
The plan, with the Bent Tree revisions, one restroom relocated, no Class 1 bikeway and no south side parking, was approved, 4-0. OC Parks will next issue California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents for a 30-day public review.
The plan is expected to be heard by the Board of Supervisors in September.
Reported by Jane Rice and Peter Wetzel.
Peters Canyon Park plan
tweaked to accommodate neighbors