Have you heard anything about 61 parking spaces being added along E. Mountain Drive near the Hot Springs trailhead? The county told a new resident that it’s using eminent domain and cutting into people’s properties. —J.
Some background for those of you just joining us: there has been a surge of interest in the springs on the Hot Springs Trail, where limited legal parking leads visitors to park wherever they think they can get away with it—often angering neighboring homeowners in the process, not just with their creative parking but also with boorish behavior. Everyone agrees that something has to change, but how?
“Montecito Fire is conducting a neighborhood-wide fire evacuation study, which will set the tone for discussions regarding the Hot Springs trailhead,” says Montecito Trails Foundation president Ashlee Mayfield, who knows more about the trails than anyone. “If people can’t get out because of trailhead parking, the county is going to have to find alternate solutions for the parking. That said, it’s also important to the county to provide trail access. So the county’s Parks and Public Works divisions, along with Montecito Fire and residents, are working together to try and figure out viable solutions.”
The talk of eminent domain likely relates to the county’s right to do as it pleases with the land directly alongside roads, regardless of whether homeowners have blocked it with plants or rocks. When the county looks at possibilities for official parking, however, I have to imagine it will prioritize land that doesn’t immediately impact homeowners.
In another new development, the county’s Parks Division has added “no overnight parking” signs at the spaces directly adjacent to the trailhead. (The 8 a.m. start is harsh, but that’s the way the countywide parks ordinance is written, for now.) Assuming the rule gets enforced, it’s a step in the right direction—nighttime visitors have been especially disrespectful—but only a small one, because anyone can legally park on the shoulders of Montecito roads for up to 72 hours unless official county signage indicates otherwise. (There’s more on street parking in this helpful Montecito Journal article from 2019.) As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually see a ban on overnight parking in a to-be-determined radius around the trailhead.
“What’s needed is a bit of patience to wait till the fire study, which is due next month,” says Mayfield. “Then we’ll all be able to come up with a plan.”
Got a question? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473.
Previous Burning Questions:
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