W. Muirlands residents still waiting for drivers to slow down

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

With a speed limit change to 30 mph on West Muirlands Drive, residents had hoped that they would see police with radar guns more often.

But it’s only happened twice, including on Sept. 14 when they met again for their three-month follow up with city representatives.

Neighbors along the stretch between Nautilus Street and Fay Avenue say they are concerned about the dangers along their street from speeders and careless drivers who cross the centerline or sideswipe parked cars. They also fear for the safety of bicyclists and skateboarders who must ride in the street because it does not have a complete sidewalk.

One resident said late at night teens are “trying to set speed records — that’s when it’s most dangerous.”

The street has also on occasion attracted “lugers” — young people sleds with wheels, fully dressed as if they were Olympic competitors with helmets, said resident Gina Tapper, who hosted the meeting. They speed downhill and are met by a “pickup car” that returns them to the top of the street so they can race down again.

The concerns echoed those at the first meeting in June, they came up with a list of requests for city traffic engineers and police to consider as ways to slow traffic. Raising the speed limit to 30 mph so it qualified for radar enforcement was the first step.

Joel Rizzo, an assistant traffic engineer, told them last week about how effective placing regular radar officers on La Jolla Scenic South Drive on a regular basis was, even though tickets weren’t always issued.

The visibility of officers forces “habitual changes in driving patterns,” he said, explaining that it is better for them to be as visible as possible for long distances so drivers slow down rather than tucked into a driveway or a less visible spot.

The average speed on La Jolla Scenic after a period of regular enforcement dropped to 25 mph, Rizzo noted.

He said he would pass along the neighbors’ requests for stepped up radar patrols and higher visibility, particularly in the early evening and weekend late night hours.

Also in the works are restriping of the street that would narrow the travel lanes to 10 feet, down from the current 12 feet. That, he said, will require a petition from the neighborhood supported by 75 percent of the residents.

Once that’s in, the matter will be presented to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board, which must give a thumbs-up before the city can move forward.

Residents also asked Rizzo to see about getting “School Zone” speed signs posted at the lower end of the hill by Fay Avenue and repeated their requests for several other possible options, including a four-way stop, crosswalk or signal light at Fay.

Rizzo promised to do everything he could to move things forward and to keep residents up to date on progress.

As those at the meeting left, they stood in front of Tapper’s house, watching as a steady stream of cars rolled by. At the top of the hill, turning onto Nautilus, nine cars were backed up at the stop light — supporting residents complaints about the volume of cars using their street.