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The City Journals

City offers options for alleviating Ferguson Canyon trailhead parking in neighborhoods

Sep 30, 2020 01:40PM ● By Cassie Goff

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Traffic within the neighborhood surrounding Timberline Drive and Prospector Drive has been increasing for years. A trailhead for Ferguson Canyon frequently draws hikers to the neighborhood. However, the trailhead only has 18 parking spaces and those fill up quickly, leaving the neighborhood street crowded with visiting vehicles. 

“There are issues of high-volume traffic and on-street parking,” said Community and Economic Development Director Michael Johnson.  

While the city of Cottonwood Heights is considering multiple options to alleviate the problem of neighborhood traffic, Johnson says a petition from residents could help produce a better solution a little faster. 

Residents can petition to create parking permit areas within the residential neighborhoods of city, allowing for residents to have preferential treatment for on-street parking. (Chapter 11.22: Parking Permit Program under Title 11: Vehicles and Traffic within the Cottonwood Heights Code of Ordinances.) 

With this option of creating a parking permit area, residents wishing to begin petitioning should meet with the Community and Economic Development Director to establish boundaries for the desired area for permitted parking. From there, 51% of the residents within that area would need to sign the petition. Once the signed petition is submitted to the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office, a hearing can be held to form appropriate rules and regulations for the area, parking restrictions, insurance of permits, fees, and other facets of appropriate implementation. Within 30 days of the hearing, the Cottonwood Heights City Council will vote to either approve or deny.

Under this option, neighborhood residents would be able to have permits for the area. In addition, there would be no strict limit for guest permits issued, but city staff members would monitor how many guest permits would be issued and restrict if need be.  

“Can I get the petition started and get the 51% from residents?” asked Councilmember Christine Mikell to Johnson on Aug. 18. Mikell mentioned that she would be willing to knock on doors along with the Parks Trails and Open Space Committee. 

“We need to get the word out to the community to get the petition to us,” said Mikell. 

As of September 15, city staff members have held a pre-application meeting with a current resident interested in starting such petition. 

If a parking permit area is not established through the petition process, the city has other options. They could try to implement a parking permit policy where residents have to register for a permit and all the data would be collected in a database. 

If the city went with the non-petitioned permitting option, residents living around the area would receive a letter telling them to register for their permit, and if necessary, guest permits. These permits would tell the city and police officers that they live in the neighborhood and are allowed to park there. Cars without a permit parked within the neighborhood would be ticketed and potentially towed.  

“This places the responsibility on residents to make sure their cars are permitted,” Johnson said.  

Otherwise, they could restrict parking from the area altogether, especially if the area were to be designated as too dangerous per congestion or visibility. 

If the city ends up needing to restrict parking altogether, the city “can have the engineers go out if needed and evaluate based on the current code,” said City Manager Tim Tingey. 

Mayor Michael Peterson noted that Salt Lake County was the original landowner and recommended that city staff members check in with them before proceeding on any option. Peterson mentioned that he would be in support of the petition. “We need to show our community that we are proactive in making things happen.” 

One of the long-term solutions for this parking area negotiated with Salt Lake County is to have at least 50 parking stalls installed. 

Cottonwood Heights is also considering “way-finding signage to guide people from parking to the trailhead,” Johnson said. Signage is critical for long-term solutions. 

One of the other issues along the Ferguson Canyon trail is the frequency of off-leash dogs. Ferguson trail allows dogs but they have to be on-leash. 

“There are some blogs that talk about how Ferguson is a top place for dogs off-leash,” Mikell said. She recommended that the city should reach out to the bloggers to get that misinformation removed from their websites.