By Anna Giles

AUBURN (CBS13) — One of the Sacramento region’s most popular hiking areas is dealing with a pandemic parking jam.

There’s been a surge of people looking for outdoor adventures at the Auburn State Recreation Area. So Placer County officials restricted parking along Old Auburn Foresthill Road, and now activists are pushing for more.

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Auburn City leaders are also chipping in on the effort to reduce congestion. They just announced a new shuttle service that would take people from the city down to the hiking trails and back. It should be up and running soon.

“Not only is parking an issue, but we’re working to reduce the amount of cars on the roadway. We’re using electric buses so there’s a green energy component in this,” said Auburn City Council Member Daniel Berlant.

Susan Yewell with The American River Community Coalition.

The American River Community Coalition hopes to eliminate parking completely on a portion of Highway 49 near the confluence. Member Susan Yewell said the overcrowding has become uncontrollable.

“It’s astounding, everyone wants to get out,” Yewell said. “It’s like an anthill. There are people crossing the bridge and they don’t realize this is one of three evacuation routes in case of fire.”

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Yewell said she’s worried about families getting hurt and people getting into accidents.

Caltrans maintains this portion of the highway. Yewell said when her organization reached out to the agency they said parking restrictions would be premature and there’s not enough data on accidents to justify restrictions.

“It is incredibly dangerous,” Yewell said. “We’re really waiting for Caltrans to step up and help us solve this problem.”

Placer County leaders have already approved parking restrictions near the confluence on portions of Old Auburn Foresthill Road. They also cited concerns about an increase in the number of visitors.

CBS13 also reached out to Caltrans and didn’t initially hear back. They later responded with a 2-page letter, which can be read in its entirety, here.

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