The real issue at Pima Canyon
My family and I have lived in Tempe for almost five years now and we love going hiking, running and biking at Pima Canyon. It is a beautiful get-away from city life and offers endless possibilities to see nature and enjoy desert life.
We have never experienced a parking issue at Pima Canyon the time we have lived here. Parking on both sides of the road gave more than plenty of parking to citizens to come and enjoy the preserve.
Now, the city and the Parks and Rec Department are limiting the use of this wonderful area to its citizens by eliminating parking on the south side of the road, which has cut usage by probably about 100 to 150 parking spaces or more.
Recently, my husband went for a run at Pima Canyon. There was a guard at the gate who was passing out fliers reminding users of the laws and rules of the Canyon. He was told to put the flier on his dashboard.
There were specific codes to each new ordinance the Parks have created.
To make a long story short here, it is the lack of Parks personnel at the park prior to these parking regulations that has us in this predicament we are in now. Prior to the new parking laws, there was rarely a ranger to be found out there monitoring parking, proper use of the trails, dogs on leashes, parking off road, etc. Now, with the new parking signs put in, the Parks Department suddenly has money in its budget to have park rangers out there at Pima Canyon to enforce parking codes only and to give out tickets should someone violate the new codes.
If the Parks Department's main reason is to eliminate people from the use of the trails at Pima Canyon and to preserve nature, then the Parks Department's job is to have people out on the trails making sure people are using the trails correctly, dogs on leashes, which many are not, and monitoring trash and other concerns that affect the desert preserve. Instead, they want to spend their time worrying about parking and that is not putting their reason to work when they are in the parking area and not on the trails.
Please know that I am an advocate for citizens to use this desert preserve and not be eliminated from it.
That is what the Parks Department is trying to do through all of these new codes they are trying to enforce. It is our right as citizens to be able to recreate here and enjoy nature. We pay our taxes and part of them go to keeping our parks services upgraded and cared for.
More parking needed at Pima Canyon
We are avid hikers who enjoy the trails on South Mountain. Our profession makes it necessary for us to do the majority of our hiking on the weekends. Pima Canyon has been consistently crowded on the weekends, but the hikers, runners and bikers are respectful people who appreciate the benefits of outdoor exercise.
The parking change has created a different atmosphere. It is often difficult or impossible to find a place to park. Those trying to find a place become upset and frustrated as others do a U-turn to take a parking place. We have often witnessed near accidents that create stress in a place we frequent to relieve our stress!
We appreciate all that is being done to create a safe, reasonable parking situation. We need more parking places. The current change has not been effective.
Debbie Cartwright & Sandi Klotz
Can you bring this problem to light?
We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the entrance to Pima Canyon. Recently, there have been significant changes to the parking situation, which has resulted in a nearly 50 percent reduction in available parking spaces.
We attended a Coffee Chat hosted by Councilman Greg Stanton and he assured us that there was serious concern by Phoenix residents about this situation and that it warranted further investigation and a community meeting. We were pleased with his responsiveness at that time, however, we haven't heard another word about such a meeting that would invite community input!
South Mountain Park is one of the most outstanding features of our neighborhood and the surrounding area. It is one of the largest city parks in the nation. For health reasons, we would hope that Phoenix would encourage rather than discourage as many of its citizens to participate in outdoor activities at this park.
We feel sorry for families who bring children to the area and must start their hike in surrounding neighborhoods before getting close to the trailhead. It seems like the parking area could be expanded to accommodate more visitors. We realize that it would take from some of the desert area, but with a park of its size what is left after the recent changes is just not adequate.
Kathleen and Angelo Daurio
Another unhappy hiker
I heard you are writing an article about the parking situation at Pima Canyon and I just wanted to add myself to the list of discontented people.
I have been hiking this beloved mountain for 16 years now, as I live two minutes away. Even as the use of the mountain grew, there always seemed to be parking available, and it did not seem to ever have been that cars were truly encroaching onto the preserve. Everyone was polite and we made it work. It was a feeling of freedom to just take off to the mountain.
Now, I have had to turn back and go home twice, as there was no parking. I can walk eventually, but others live farther. There are cars double parked just waiting for someone to leave. Usually several maneuvers are necessary to get in or out of the parking.
I respect the desire of the city to want to protect this land and habitat as some of us can be abusive, but it is very few. We need to stay only on the trails.
Most of us have the corporate job, sitting down in front of a computer for longer hours now than every before, and we need nature to feel well and balanced. If this park is so inaccessible and seems like it is so government regulated and monitored, it will have its charm taken away.
I hope both parties can win.
Let's all be responsible at Pima Canyon
Time and Age!
The first, I don't have enough of and, of the second, being older than dirt, I have way too much.
Nonetheless, for the last four years, I have tried to run South Mountain trails three or four times a week but, since the fall, it's down to one or two visits. The reason is the enormous reduction in the availability of parking at the Pima Canyon Trailhead. I don't have the time to risk going to the trailhead and spending 10 to 15 minutes looking/hoping for a parking place or the legs for running the extra distance each way.
I sympathize with the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department as they have a busy job with many differing objectives to balance. However, the reasons provided for restricting parking at the most popular East Valley trailhead are, at best, misguided and, at worst, disingenuous. Vehicle encroachment onto the edges of the preserve can be prevented by the placement of large boulders at the roadside (as has been done on the still legal side) - a solution that would be less of an eyesore than the dozens and dozens of "No Parking" signs. The dust creation and emergency services access arguments are non-issues, while the addition of double yellow lines in the roadway is a potential hazard. Bikers and hikers (many with young children) are being forced to travel longer distances to the start of the trails. This puts them at risk from incoming vehicles, which are forced towards them as drivers try to stay on the legal side of the lines.
There may be valid reasons for removing almost 100 parking spaces (the recent freeing up of 15 slots at the turnaround is just a distraction). All I ask is that the parks department treats me as an adult and provides honest reasons for these actions. Failing that, please paint over the lines, remove the "No Parking" signs, place the no-encroachment boulders and let's all go back to being responsible grown ups.