By Ashley Mackin
At the La Jolla Traffic and Transportation (T&T) advisory board meeting July 24, a proposed four-way stop sign on Fay Avenue and West Muirlands Drive came up for vote, as did an extension on Eddie V’s valet parking application, along with requests for street closures for upcoming events.
The stop sign request was first discussed at the T&T meeting in January, but there was not enough information for the board to vote on it at that time. At the July meeting, residents supporting the request spoke in defense, citing their reasons.
“We have a lot of issues with safety there. There have been multiple accidents and near misses. I have to walk across that street daily and it’s taking your life into your own hands,” said Julie Swain, who lives near the intersection.
Swain said she has observed parents using West Muirlands Drive as a feeder street to La Jolla High School, who drop off their children on the corner. She said the students then run across the street to get to school.
Swain said La Jolla High School has not been contacted for their input on the request, but former Principal Dana Shelbourne was reportedly in favor of the stop sign. Due to traffic activity at the school, Swain contends there would be only traffic backups on Fay Avenue half an hour before school starts and half an hour after school ends each day.
T&T chair Todd Lesser said after the January meeting, a city engineer observed the area and determined it warrants a stop sign. The engineer will also attempt to predict how the sign installation might affect traffic on nearby streets.
Because of the spike in traffic activity when the school year starts, Lesser said they would know very quickly whether the stop sign will be effective.
“This is either going to cause a huge traffic problem and/or cause people to go to other streets, and then we’ll hear from residents on those streets,” he said, “Or it ends up working. Sometimes it’s difficult to predict.”
Noting the sign could be easily removed should it cause more problems than it solves, the board voted at the meeting to approve the sign, 5-4.
However, member Joe Matibag, who voted in favor of the installation, found out after the meeting he was no longer a board representative and so not eligible to vote, and his vote was nullified after the meeting.
Explaining the mixup, Chair Lesser told La Jolla Light two representatives from the following community groups are required for the vote – Bird Rock Community Council, La Jolla Village Merchant’s Association, La Jolla Community Planning Association and La Jolla Town Council — and at the time of the vote, there were three appointees from the merchants association, so Matibag’s vote did not count and he stepped down from the T&T board.
Lesser also said his report of the meeting, which explained the change in recommendation, was submitted to the city for consideration. It will be up to city engineers to decide whether the stop sign proposal will return to T&T at the Aug. 28 meeting or if a decision can be made based on meeting reports.