Traffic board debates stop sign on Draper Avenue: ‘Putting stop signs where they don’t belong is a bad idea’

A request for a stop sign on Draper Avenue spurred a larger discussion at the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation (LJT&T) meeting June 21, to encompass traffic calming in La Jolla, the perceived haste to jump to a stop sign and why a new sign is not always the best solution.

At issue is a group of Draper Avenue residents requesting a stop sign to slow speedy drivers on what they call “The Draper Freeway” around Arenas Street. Per City policy, when the request was made, the intersection was evaluated and traffic engineers found it did not merit additional stop signs (there are currently two stop signs at Arenas Street). Nevertheless, Andrea Russell, representing the residents, pleaded for “desperately needed” traffic calming.

“Many neighbors on the (affected) portion have given the area the nickname ‘Draper Freeway.’ This nickname jokingly exhibits the speed and hazard that our residential street has become, but this is no joking matter. Someone is going to get seriously injured on that street,” she said.

Acknowledging the City determined a stop sign was not warranted, Russell drew upon City Council policy 200-08, which provides an alternative process.

LJT&T chair Dave Abrams paraphrased, “If the criteria is not satisfied upon the re-evaluation, then a community planning group may hold a public hearing to discuss the matter. If the community planning group votes to support the stops signs, then a City Council member may request that the City Manager either install or request the stop signs or submit a report to the City Council discussing why the signs are not recommended.”

Hopeful that this alternative would work, Russell read a written statement about the situation, and cited the high pedestrian and bicycle activity on the street (especially from nearby La Jolla High School and the La Jolla Christian Fellowship on Genter Street), as reasons the board should support the proposal. She said she posted a petition online that 41 people reportedly signed, and many posted supportive comments.

 

Empathetic to her concerns, the board discussed why a stop sign is not the most effective way to slow the traffic.

“It’s my view, putting stop signs where they don’t belong is a bad idea,” Abrams said. “There is a reason the City recommends against it and it can create more safety hazards than it solves. We share your sentiments about creating safe streets for our community, and, when speeding is an issue, it should be addressed. But stop signs are not always the right means.”

LJT&T trustee Nancy Warwick added, “Stop signs seem to be the go-to solution for residents when there is a problem with speeding. But studies show it can be a hazard if the stop sign is seen by drivers as unwarranted. If drivers think it shouldn’t be there, there is an increase of rolling through it or ignoring it completely. Some findings even show that drivers will speed up to make up for lost time between stop signs.”

Russell said she and other residents are not “tethered” to the idea of a stop sign, but hope that some alternative form of traffic calming could be implemented. Conventional alternatives include: a traffic choker, roundabouts, speed bumps, speed “cushions” (more subtle) and crosswalks.

A motion to deny the stop sign addition passed, but the board agreed to ask the City to investigate alternative traffic calming based on the information at hand.

In other T&T news:

Parking deterrence on Playa Del Norte: To solve a compounded problem of illegal parking and adolescent gatherings, a proposal to add parking deterrence methods to the end of Playa Del Norte at Neptune Place was approved. The affected area is red-curbed and white stripes are painted on the street to indicate that parking is prohibited.

However, large trucks and cars often park there, blocking views for pedestrians and drivers on the windy road. Further, teens often gather there and residents have reported vandalism and mischief as a result.

New member: Replacing John Kassar, La Jolla Shores resident Daryl Tshirn was seated as the newest LJT&T board member.

Taste at The Cove: Temporary No Parking, associated with the 16th annual Taste at The Cove fundraiser, Aug. 31 at Scripps Park, was approved. A portion of Coast Boulevard will be closed to accommodate the loading and unloading of equipment. The No Parking rule is also in effect the night before. Learn more at tasteatthecove.com

Church festival: A request to close Draper Avenue between Silverado and Kline streets as part of the 4th annual La Jolla Presbyterian Church Fall Festival, Sunday Nov. 5 was approved. This will be the second year the street is closed.

The event will feature food trucks and/or booths from local restaurants with tables and chairs on Draper Avenue, with activities at the Church and Rec Center across the street. Requesting the closure, Church rep Erika Hill said the three neighbors most affected — La Jolla Woman’s Club, St. James by-the-Sea Church and The Bed & Breakfast Inn at La Jolla — are all in support. Learn more at ljpres.org

Burgers and Brews: After a brief presentation, temporary No Parking associated with the Burgers & Brews fundraiser was also approved. La Jolla Village Merchants Association vice president Brett Murphy requested five parking spaces be reserved for those being dropped off at the Oct. 28 event.

He explained the event would be associated with the Breeders’ Cup thoroughbred horse races at the Del Mar track, Nov. 3-4, and would bring racing fans to La Jolla. The event would also raise money for the La Jolla-based BraveCort Foundation for pediatric cancer research.

When heard at La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group last month, the board withheld a vote until LJT&T could weigh-in. The proposal was heard again at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting June 26.

— La Jolla Traffic & Transportation next meets (pending items to review) 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 19 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

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