Midpeninsula Post

As attendance soars, Palo Alto closes entrance to Foothills Park during peak hours


In an effort to stave off a high number of park goers, the City of Palo Alto announced today that the front gate to Foothills Park will be temporarily closed on weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting this Saturday, Jan. 9.

The gate closure does not apply to pedestrians and cyclists.

The park has reached its maximum capacity of 750 visitors numerous times since its opening to the general public — according to a spokesperson for the City, the influx of visitors in the once-sleepy nature preserve prompted “safety concerns” and “road hazards.”

At the moment, the temporary measure does not have a set end date, although the City Council is set to discuss possible further restrictions on park entry, specifically the implementation of an entrance fee or an extension of the visitor cap which is set to be raised to a more lax 1000 later this month.

As part of its settlement in the lawsuit that prompted the opening of the park, the City retained the right to impose reasonable entrance fees and attendance caps.

The executive director of Grassroots Ecology, a volunteer organization that helps maintain the park, referred a previous request for comment to the City.

“[The closure] will help manage the number of visitors in the park at one time and provide a safe, enjoyable and consistent experience for park goers,” the spokesperson said in an email to the Post. “If Foothills Park is at capacity, we encourage visitors to visit one of Palo Alto’s other open spaces or parks.”

Alternatives to Foothills Park include adjacent Pearson-Arastradero and Los Trancos Open Space preserves, as well as Byrne Preserve, off Altamont Road.

From the City of Palo Alto: The City is seeking docent volunteers to help welcome visitors, answer questions and share Foothills Park information and other support opportunities. If interested, please email Community Services at CSD@cityofpaloalto.org.”

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