Discussion group created for those affected by visitor issues
Fern Valley resident Marsha Kennedy believes there is a need for community conversation and action given the recent and likely ongoing impact of hundreds of snow-play visitors on the Hill any time after a snowstorm.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to handle the number of visitors,” said Kennedy. She, as others have noted, is discouraged by snow tourists illegally parking near berms extending into the street, narrowing the roadways and creating dangerous driving conditions. Also, with few public play areas, visitors are parking in residential areas and trespassing on private land, often blocking private driveways.
Also, as many have discovered when berms melt, there are the gifts of trash, diapers and bottles containing urine left on private property. Other than in restaurants in Idyllwild and public buildings such as the library and one public bathroom in The Fort.
To grow the conversation and hold a “think tank” meeting soon, Kennedy has created an “Idyllwild Snow Talk” page on Facebook for Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Fern Valley residents to share information, air grievances and consider options.
“Two weeks ago, my street was so heavily inundated with illegally parked cars that I had to go out 10 times to ask people to move cars that were blocking my ability to get out of my own driveway,” said Kennedy. “I’m heading up a group to get together to see what to do and brainstorm options.”
At the top of the Facebook page are key numbers to call, including a California Highway Patrol number to report illegally parked cars impacting smooth passage of traffic.
“We need to make some concerted effort over time since this problem is not likely to go away,” said Kennedy. Also, as she and others have noted, the county is not in a position with either the California Highway Patrol or Sheriff personnel to adequately deal with the glut of snow-visitor violations and issues.
Kennedy believes that by getting together, realistic community options can be examined.
During the last two storms, the U.S. Forest Service closed the parking areas at Humber Park but not the park itself. It posted signs at Fern Valley Road near South Circle and at Forest Drive noting closure to vehicles. But signs gave no indication of where people could or could not park if they were going to walk up to Humber Park to play in the snow.
USFS Deputy Public Information Officer Gerrelaine Alcordo said the parking was closed for safety reasons. “It gets icy and conditions are difficult just below Forest Drive, and that is the last place people can turn around,” she noted. Driving up to Humber Park’s parking area was just not safe.
Some Fern Valley snow visitors said they were told the park was only closed to vehicles and that they could park elsewhere and walk up. But they were not told by signs or rangers where they could park.
Many did park in town and walk up but many more parked throughout residential streets just below the park. This conflicted with a CHP directive that snow visitors who parked in residential streets and impacted the free flow of traffic would be ticketed and/or towed.
Alcordo said she would suggest that Forest Service signs add the advisory that there is no snow-play parking in residential areas.
Kennedy’s page site for comment and participation is www.facebook.com/groups/176028792429 2570/.