FREMONT — The area around popular Mission Peak is choked with hundreds of drivers parking on surrounding streets on weekends and holidays, but residents soon may be able to get some relief.

The city has started the process to allow neighbors to petition for permit parking around the Stanford Avenue trailhead.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the plan, lowering to 60 percent the number of households that would have to sign a petition. The staff had recommended 66 percent of the 600 homes would be required to sign the petition.

Any petition would have to be approved by the City Council.

“This is something that I think is reasonable,” Councilwoman Suzanne Lee Chan said of the petition process. “I think it’s going to do a lot to alleviate the situation.”

Hikers at the Hidden Valley Trailhead at Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, Calif., Sept. 27, 2014.

Hikers at the Hidden Valley Trailhead at Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, Calif., Sept. 27, 2014. (Anda Chu / Bay Area News Group)

The 43-space lot at the Stanford Avenue trailhead for Mission Peak Regional Preserve fills up by early in the morning, so drivers search for parking on nearby city streets. At times, it can be impossible to find street parking more than half a mile from the staging area, according to a staff report.

In large part due to social media sharing, the Mission Peak summit has become a tourist spot, said Geneva Bosques, Fremont police spokeswoman. An estimated 40,000 people hike the trail monthly, according to a report.

“There’s a ton of traffic,” she said. “There are hundreds of people who come up to the peak. On Sundays, 30 to 50 people are lined up at the gate waiting for it to open.”. ┬áPolice surveyed hikers and found that most were from Fremont and the South Bay, Bosques said.

“It’s definitely used by people in our community,” she said. Some people hike to the summit a couple times each week.

“People like to take selfies at the top. You see the Facebook and Instagram posts,” she said.

To help alleviate the parking crunch, East Bay Regional Park District is proposing a 300-space parking lot near the Stanford Avenue trailhead, the most commonly used staging area for the ascent to the top. It also would include permanent restrooms.

The proposed lot is in the environmental review stage. Even if park directors approve the lot, it would be years before it would be open, according to the city staff report.

The park district reduced trail hours to 6:30 a.m. until a half-hour after sunset. The curfew has reduced illegal nighttime park use by 88 percent, according to the city staff report. Park usage also has dropped.

Mission Peak users have been encouraged to use a trailhead off Ohlone College, where there is a parking structure. And more hikers are parking there.

If approved, the permitted parking area would include the neighborhoods between Mission Boulevard, Vineyard Avenue, Stanford Avenue and Antelope Drive. It also would apply to Cougar Circle, Board Circle and Lynx Drive.

Not all street parking would be eliminated; 150 street spaces on Vineyard and Antelope that are not near homes would be available for public use.

The program would include visitor parking tags. Residents have complained to the city that they cannot hold family celebrations on weekends and holidays because there is no place for visitors to park.

If neighbors submit a petition and it is approved, it would cost Fremont $18,000 to install signs. East Bay Regional Park District would pay for the permits and administrative costs, plus a community resource officer to help enforce parking rules in the Mission Peak neighborhood.

The first-year cost of the parking permit program would be higher, at $36,426, because it would include the cost of the permits. Each household could request parking stickers for registered vehicles and two visitor placards.

The annual cost would drop to $12,000 after the first year.

Hiking the Mission Peak trail seems to be especially popular with college students, said Carolyn Jones of the park district.

“We’re very happy so many people are enjoying this beautiful park. After all, our mission is to connect people to nature,” Jones said. “As long as people stay on the trail and respect the neighbors, it’s not a problem.”

Jones said that most visitors obey the rules.

“We’re eager to continue working with the neighbors, the city of Fremont and park visitors to find a long-term solution to Mission Peak crowding,” Jones said.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.