New Temecula parking restrictions to affect Temecula Valley High School students

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Temecula will soon restrict parking at a portion of Ronald Reagan Sports Park, which many Temecula Valley High School students use as an alternative to paying for school parking permits, to after 8 a.m. – effectively banning students from using it. Will Fritz photo

Changes to parking rules at Temecula city facilities and parks will soon go into effect – including a new restriction that will affect Temecula Valley High School students who park off-campus during school hours.

The most sweeping new rule is a ban on overnight parking at most parks and city buildings. The restriction came before the Temecula City Council as a result of a request from the city’s Parks, Recreations and Community Services subcommittee to explore ways to increase safety and security at local parks, according to Mike Wooten, senior management analyst for community services department.

“There have been numerous incidents such as drug and alcohol possession, vandalism, overnight parking, fighting, assault and harassment of city staff and patrons,” Wooten told the Temecula City Council at its Oct. 22 meeting.

Most of the new changes – which were approved by the city council 5-0 – won’t have much of an effect on most people. Currently, most city parks are open from dawn to dusk, and lighted parks like Ronald Reagan Sports Park and Patricia H. Birdsall Sports Park are open from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m., but there are currently no parking restrictions.

In fact, the Mary Phillips Senior Center and the Temecula Valley Museum are the only two city facilities that restrict overnight parking as of now.

One change will have a bit larger of an effect, though. At Ronald Reagan Sports Park, which many Temecula Valley High School students use as an alternative to paying for parking on campus, the city will begin prohibiting parking until after 8 a.m. during the week – a half-hour after TVHS’s start time at 7:30 a.m.

Many Temecula Valley High School students currently use the parking lot at Ronald Reagan Sports Park as an alternative to school parking. Will Fritz photo

While Wooten initially told the council the changes were being driven by requests from TVHS administration, the city of Temecula later told the Valley News that Wooten had misspoken and his statement was inaccurate.

“These changes to park hours of operation and parking are being driven by a desire to enhance public safety within our parks and facilities,” a statement from the city said. “These recommendations have been developed after consulting with our partners in the community including law enforcement, neighboring schools, and staff.”

The parking lot at the sports park will be open for use at 5 a.m. on weekends, same as the other lighted parks in the city.

“I’d also like to point out that the new mandated high school start times will go into effect by 2022,” Wooten told the council, referring to a bill recently signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom that will mandate that high schools cannot have start times earlier than 8 a.m. “However, we believe that by implementing these parking restrictions now, it will condition the students to not park at Ronald Reagan, but we will be prepared to reevaluate that as the start times change.”

Parking will still be allowed earlier than 8 a.m. near the Temecula Community Center just west of the sports park, however; one parking lot at the community center will open at 5 a.m., while the lot near the center’s aquatics area will be open as early as 4 a.m.

The changes will go into effect Nov. 21, which is 30 days after the city council approved them. Wooten said the city will work with the Temecula Valley Unified School District to ensure students and their families are notified about the new parking restrictions. 

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.

5 p.m. Wednesday: This story has been updated with a statement from the city of Temecula clarifying a Senior Management Analyst Mike Wooten’s characterization of the reasoning behind the city’s decision to limit parking at Ronald Reagan Sports Park to after 8 a.m. during the week.