2012-06-28 / Front Page
Meeting called over Reino restriping
City wants input on Pepper Tree parking issue
Faced with stiff neighborhood resistance over a plan to restripe a small portion of Reino Road near Newbury Park High School, the city is calling a public meeting to gather input regarding the parking situation at Pepper Tree Playfield.
The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wed., July 25 at the Newbury Park Library.
Cliff Finley, deputy director of the public works department, said the meeting would allow the city to get additional feedback from local residents.
“It’s an opportunity to talk to the neighborhood,” Finley told the Acorn. “A pause to say, ‘What is the problem?’ We’re still listening.”
In April, the city’s Traffic and Transportation Advisory Commission unanimously approved a plan to allow angled parking near the popular sports playfields by restriping part of southbound Reino Road—taking it from two lanes down to one just north of NPHS between Calle Clara Vista and Old Conejo Road.
But in the weeks the followed, neighborhood residents, the Oakridge Estates and Casa de la Senda homeowners associations, and the Casa Conejo Municipal Advisory Council came out against the plan, citing its potentially negative impact on safety and traffic. In response, the city has decided to delay the work, which was set to begin later this summer.
“We saw an opportunity to help mitigate what we believed was a parking problem in adjacent neighborhoods around the playfield,” said John Helliwell, engineering division manager of the city’s public works department. “But with all that concern, and so much testimony about there not even being a parking issue in the neighborhood, we’ve decided not to move forward with this project.”
The park at the corner of Reino and Old Conejo roads is home to AYSO, Newbury Park Girls Softball, PONY Baseball, Newbury Park Lacrosse and other leagues.
It currently has 113 parking spaces, not including the 40 spaces on Reino Road.
Before the creation of the plan, city staff had received many complaints that during busy weekends at Pepper Tree visitors were often forced to park in surrounding neighborhoods, Finley said.
“It’s not a weekday problem,” Finley said. “It’s a Saturday problem, especially during soccer season.”
To reduce the impact of park users on the neighborhoods, traffic engineers devised a plan that would create 23 additional parking spaces by going from parallel to angled parking along Reino Road.
But at last week’s meeting of the traffic commission, the first since the citizen-led advisory board approved the plan, a report presented to the commission stated that “residents are telling staff that they don’t really have a parking problem in the neighborhood anymore.”
The report goes on to say that efforts by AYSO and the Conejo Recreation and Park District to educate parents about the parking situation have helped mitigate the problem.
The park district asked AYSO parents to avoid parking on residential streets, Finley said.
Rick Lemmo, chair of the five-person traffic advisory commission, said reaction to the proposed restriping has been split.
“Those with children thought that the angled parking was a brilliant idea,” Lemmo said. “Those without younger children playing sports (say), ‘Do we really need it?’”
Among those opposed to the plan is Oakridge resident Michael Knauer, who believes a single southbound lane on Reino Road would slow traffic and be dangerous.
But according to a city staff report, traffic in that direction peaks at about 650 vehicles per hour, while the capacity of one lane is 1,800 vehicles an hour.
Still, Knauer criticized the plan’s “missteps,” including what he said was the city’s lack of communication with neighborhood residents about the potential change.
Lemmo said in response, “I cannot find one misstep that staff had in this process. Staff was right on the money with the project itself.”
Finley said the city would reassess the parking situation in the fall, when soccer season begins.
“If anything is done, it would be in the fall or next year,” the deputy director said. “We’re not sure how big the problem really is. Maybe there’s a simpler solution that we haven’t thought of.”