lagoon valley parking 01

A vehicle drives by the pay booth as it exits Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville, last Saturday. The City of Vacaville plans to shut down parking just outside Lagoon Valley Park. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)


City closer to barricading makeshift parking lot

By From page A1 | March 29, 2014

VACAVILLE — The hundreds of weekly Lagoon Valley Park visitors who find free parking refuge under the “No Parking” signs in the area adjacent to the front entrance payment kiosk will soon have to find a new place to park – preferably inside the park after paying the $3-per-vehicle entrance fee.

The area will soon be blocked by a series of boulders and gates, in addition to new signs, possibly as early as Easter, said Hew Hesterman, the city’s park planner. Access will be allowed only during special events such as Loop the Lagoon and Festival de la Isla.

The idea doesn’t thrill several regular visitors who said that most of the people who park there come only for an hour or so several times a week to walk or run.

“It’s fine if you’re going to be here for a picnic,” said Ginger Richardson of Vacaville. “I don’t know about paying when you come in for 45 minutes to an hour. I’m definitely going for the free parking.”

Richardson meets friends several times a week to walk the park – one of them Pamla Fox, also of Vacaville. They used to walk starting at the Butcher Road entrance until another friend had her car burglarized. In a previous report, Vacaville police Lt. Matt Lydon said the Butcher Road entrance area had 29 auto burglaries in 2013, a drop from 37 in 2011. Despite the drop, he said it’s still an issue in nonpaid parking areas around the park.

Hesterman said the number of cars that used to park in the area adjacent to the main entrance was small.

“Now it’s gotten to be crazy,” he said. “It’s caused a lot of problems.”

The problems range from a violation of city code that prohibits parking on unapproved surfaces to creating environmental havoc in the meadow. But the primary reason for the closure is safety, such as the car break-ins and traffic hazards – as walkers, joggers, dogs on leashes and strollers jockey for position among the moving cars as both make their way into the park on the curving entry road.

“The intent is to get people to park where they are supposed to be,” Hesterman said of the decision to close the area, which was made in February by the city’s Community Services Commission.

Estimates indicate that only 10 percent of all visitors pay the entrance fee, whether staying an hour or all day, Hesterman said.

“It’s an unusual person who pays,” he said.

Hesterman said the intent is to “do it gently,” so no one is upset about it. However, before the city has started, regular visitors expressed both surprise and irritation.

Most said they’ll just find parking farther afield to avoid paying for the short time they’re in the park. And they wonder if the closure will cause even more problems.

“I think it will discourage people,” said Vacaville resident Roxanne Moore. “What they’ll do is line the frontage road, which is dangerous.”

Hesterman agreed that’s probably what will happen but said, “We can’t chase the problem to Fairfield. The intention is to reduce the number of people walking on that road. Safety is a big issue, also the burglaries.”

Fox questioned a part of the safety issue and said she’s never seen anyone injured while walking on the road in the park. Neither has Hesterman in recent times, but he called the move a “pre-emptive strike” in order to avoid conflict between vehicles and those walking into the park.

Fairfield resident Cathi Jasso also comes several times a week, meeting friends in the makeshift parking lot for a walk around the lake. She said it’s “too bad” the city is closing the area to cars, but added that she’d pay the entrance fee, if that’s what her friends chose to do as well. Others, she said, might not be able to afford to pay the $3 fee each time they come.

For those who visit the park regularly, Hesterman said the city offers an unlimited yearly pass that would reduce multiple weekly visits to mere cents. The pass is available at Three Oaks Community Center, 1100 Alamo Drive, the Vacaville Corporation Yard, 1001 Allison Drive, or an application can be printed from the city’s website, www.ci.vacaville.ca.us, under Community Services.

Hesterman said the next step will be to add an electronic parking machine that can take debit cards – currently it’s cash only that is put in an envelope and slid in a slot.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.


Discussion | 12 comments

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  • elon munskMarch 29, 2014 - 1:47 am

    good lord what is wrong with you vacaville leave it as is..don't tax the people who are trying to be active go tax some people who are eating mcdonalds.

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  • BobMarch 29, 2014 - 6:08 am

    Elon munsk the $3 per day or $50 per year is for park repairs, roads and places where people spin doughnuts with their trucks can be repaired You must be one of the walk ins that walk the wrong way on the asphalt (better known as a road for cars) block the road and then yell at cars for driving on the roads If paying $3 per day keeps the cheap non payers out so much the better

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  • my2centsMarch 29, 2014 - 6:35 am

    I'll opt for the annual pass but it should be available for purchase at the park. As for the concerns regarding property crimes, Hesterman seems to give the impression the barriers will reduce them. It's good news park personnel will be patrolling the lots to prevent breakins. Oh, they won't be? What difference will barriers make to car burglars?! Install some cameras in the parking areas. I too worry about our recreational centers being financially out of reach to some. It makes me sad that so many families cannot afford the aquatic center at Allen Witt Park, now this.

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  • The MisterMarch 29, 2014 - 7:33 am

    What a parallel for government in general... The crooks do what crooks do and government punishes the victim. Shooting in a school? Take guns from everyone. Airplanes fly into the WTC? Make airline passengers strip-down or get irradiated. Someone drives drunk? Stop everyone in a DUI checkpoint. What if... we held the bad guys severely accountable, let the regular people just live their lives, and get the government out of the business of controlling everything we do? Wouldn't that be nice?

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  • CD BrooksMarch 29, 2014 - 8:28 am

    The Mister, "What if... we held the bad guys severely accountable?" That's TWO things we agree on today, there just might be hope. But don't hold your breath on my kneeling to anyone soon! :)

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  • flynlevelMarch 29, 2014 - 8:18 am

    The 'simple-pay' machine is important and long overdue at the rarely-staffed entrance kiosk to Lagoon Valley; the existing system is impossible for anyone without correct cash change on-hand. As we've seen at Rockville Park, the facility has steadily improved with installation of a simple permit-purchase machine. Hope to see the same at Lagoon Valley.

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  • loveMarch 29, 2014 - 8:58 am

    This really sucks. As a family with little means we go to Pena Adobe EVERY week and weekend, we can't afford to take the kids to Kidz Gone Wild for 5 dollars a kid for an hour, Jump highway 15$ an hour, everything is to expensive for family trying to keep their head afloat in what's left of middle class. Now we can't afford nature. Cool.

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  • Kene WinstonMarch 29, 2014 - 9:00 am

    what so bad about mcDs?

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  • CindyMarch 29, 2014 - 9:37 am

    I walk there frequently and am there for about 45 min to an hr and I also feel $3 is a lot to pay. I will probably pay the $50 annual fee and probably wouldn't mind if this fixed the roads inside the park. I don't feel there is the safety issue at the very entrance. I feel the cars and walkers are conscious of each other at the entrance. The safety issue is once you are inside the park where the cars are not abiding by the 15 MPH. The city should put in cameras to help deter burglaries and more patrolling. Is there going to be enough parking to accommodate all the cars that be parking inside. It appears limited.

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  • chris stoneMarch 29, 2014 - 10:27 am

    before my unemployment was so rudely cut off by the republicans, I paid my $3 and entered the park for about an hour or so to feed the geese and enjoy the outdoors....sometimes I would park in that area just before the gates so I could use my walker to walk over to the little bridge and walk that trail for a bit. I used the free parking and walked as the fee is hard to come by at times

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  • PornacMarch 29, 2014 - 11:47 am

    The government should get out of the park business, should turn over all government land for best use. Then our taxes should go down too!

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  • whathteMarch 29, 2014 - 12:55 pm

    that place would make a nice homeless camp. Get them all off of Texas street. Dig a latrine. Drop rations once a week. Once you commit to the camp, you can't ever leave.

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