Quick action by Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has prompted the city Street Transportation Department to drop its plan to post no-parking signs along Warpaint Drive in Ahwatukee near a popular South Mountain trailhead.
After hikers alerted him over the weekend to the move, DiCiccio began calling city staffers to find out how the signs could be ordered so quickly without his office being notified.
By Monday, the department reversed its plan to erect the signs later this week, but DiCiccio said the way it had been put into motion was “unusual.”
“The bottom line is the signs have been canceled,” DiCiccio said.
He added that it had ordered their placement after the Ahwatukee Board of Management informed the city on Oct. 24 that “it would not oppose the installation of no-parking signs.”
ABM General Manager Robert Blakesley said that ABM was only advising the city that the HOA didn’t care whether parking would be banned.
“Our view is the city owns and maintains the trailhead and the street,” Blakesley said. “We didn’t feel it was our place to recommend no-parking signs. We just wanted the city to know we would defer to whatever they decided.”
“We definitely would not request this on our own,” he added.
City records obtained by the Ahwatukee Foothills News show ABM passed along a request from a couple who is developing a lot across from where hikers were parking and that ABM only stated it would not oppose the signs.
But several neighbors told the street department they “vehemently opposed” the signs, noting that when they had bought their homes, they knew the trailhead was there and did not object to hikers parking on the street.
Streets spokeswoman Monica Hernandez told DiCiccio’s office that the city Parks and Recreation Department opposed the parking ban.
Hiker Paul Anders, an Ahwatukee resident since 1997, said the developer has been “very aggressive” in chasing away hikers who park their cars.
“This trailhead is one of the most active in the South Mountain system, due to its mild terrain, convenient Ahwatukee access and beautiful views. Hikers and cyclists have been parking along the section of Warpaint between Knox and the trailhead for 20-plus years,” he said.
That section of Warpaint Drive is not only the closest to the trailhead, but one of the few areas near it where hikers can park.
“There are no other options for parking at this very popular trailhead that are convenient for hikers,” Anders said.
Anders said the few homeowners that do live on the east side of the road have not had any issues with the hikers.
“Some no-parking signs were put up by the city on the east side, and trail users respect those signs,” Anders said. “But the west side has no development, and has ample parking for even the heaviest trail use.”
A website apparently posted by the developer couple describes “an exquisite, privately gated luxury home” for the lot, promising an “incomparable high-desert luxury retreat” and a “catalyst for truly inspired living.”
“This high-demand hillside property offers discerning buyers with the rare opportunity to purchase a custom-built architectural masterpiece, exuding the art of living, on pristine acreage dotted with awe-inspiring vistas and unspoiled desert allurement,” the website adds, touting a two-story house as a “smart home” with computer-run features.
It also quotes the Chinese philosopher Confucius and the late South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
The developer did not return a call from the AFN requesting comment.
While the issue has been resolved, Anders said he hopes the city can address some other problems involving parking near trailheads.
One of the biggest are signs in many nearby neighborhoods advising that parking for trail use is banned in residential areas.
“This is unenforceable,” Anders said. “An officer would have to know the intent of someone parking there to issue a ticket. It’s confusing to hikers. The signs need to be clearer that they are only advisory.”
He also said the Warpaint Drive incident points to a problem involving the process for parking bans.
“The way the city went about doing this points to a real flaw in the process,” he said. “What’s the city doing to make sure all voices are heard?”
DiCiccio said his investigation showed that there are other parking bans in the area that are puzzling.
He said he intends to look into how and why those signs were placed.