• Toward a safer Pacific Grove

    Traffic commission on crosswalks, bicycle path, dog walker parking

    By Cameron Douglas

    The Pacific Grove Traffic Commission held its monthly meeting on April 14. After receiving and approving the minutes from March 10, the commission moved briskly through its agenda.

    In a public hearing, the Commission addressed resident requests for attention to crosswalks on Central Avenue. Several residents had requested the City repaint faded crosswalks at 15th, 14th and 13th Streets, and the issue had been raised at a recent City Council meeting.

    The hearing was required because Traffic Engineer Malcolm Knisely proposed the removal of some and addition of other crosswalks. Knisely’s new plan calls for repainting six existing crosswalks, adding one and deleting three between 10th and 15th Streets. He stressed the importance of keeping crosswalks where there is “a definite, demonstrated need.” Henry Leinen moved to approve Knisely’s recommendations with two changes: keeping one crosswalk at 11th Street and adding one at 9th to serve St. Angela’s School. The motion carried 5-2.

    Public Works Director Celia Perez-Martinez gave an update on progress for a flashing crosswalk at Sunset and 19th. She announced that a snag involving a permit from PG&E to install an electrical panel had been resolved and that the project is moving forward.

    The Commission then reviewed the final report of a parking plan for the Rip Van Winkle Community Open Space. Currently, all parking in the Open Space area is illegal, despite the fact that dozens of people regularly use the area along Congress Avenue for parking, particularly those who walk their dogs in the open space. It was noted that the Open Space extends all the way to the edge of the pavement.

    A subcommittee has held several meetings and surveyed the site. The following recommendations will be forwarded to City Council:

    1.     Approval of a parking improvement plan that includes the removal of two undersized oaks, one stump and one other oak tree. Natural materials such as logs and stones would delineate the parking areas and protect trees.

    2.     Approval of a long-range plan that calls for split-rail fencing along the park and around parking areas.

    3.     Amend the municipal code to allow parking in the designated areas.

    There are five proposed parking areas. The first would have 4 pull-in spaces; the second shows 5 pull-in spaces; the third would have 2 parallel parking spaces; the fourth would have 2-3 parallel parking spaces; the fifth would have 4 parallel parking spaces. The report suggested decomposed granite as a natural and useful base for the parking areas. Martinez reports a modest cost for the work and that funds have been secured. A motion to pass the recommendations on to City Council was unopposed.

    Steve Honegger addressed the Commission about pedestrian safety along Jewell Avenue near the Senior Center. He stated the existing crosswalks are too great a distance for seniors to travel in the face of oncoming traffic. A thorough discussion followed. Knisely and Martinez agreed to explore the idea of adding a stop sign. Martinez further suggested the Commission look into the matter and table their recommendations at the next meeting. Leinen made a formal motion to do that, and it was unopposed.

    City Council member Carmelita Garcia asked to have red paint at the curb in front of the mailbox at 540 Evergreen Road. She stated that vehicles often parked there for up to four days, causing problems for residents backing out of their driveways. It came to light that Evergreen is considered a “mounted route” by the Postal Service, meaning that the carrier is to stay in the vehicle. If a mailbox on such a route is blocked, the letter carrier does not have to deliver the mail. The commission agreed to have the curb painted red.

    Rec Trail path

    The Traffic Commission is moving to repeal the City’s current municipal code stating the paved portion of the Rec Trail is for bicycles only. Currently, it is an infraction to walk on the bicycle portion of the trail in Pacific Grove. According to Police Chief Darius Engles, this creates an expectation among certain bike riders that they can travel at high rates of speed, placing pedestrians in jeopardy. It becomes a problem when large numbers of people are out walking. The proposal would repeal the current code and change signage, making it a shared use trail to improve pedestrian safety. Riders and walkers will be encouraged to watch out for each other. The Chief shared some legal information that ensures the change in local law is in compliance with state law. Comments were made about recent incidents of pedestrians being deliberately struck on the back of the head by passing cyclists. It was agreed that this is being done by a couple of known “bad apples.” Martinez stated she has seen the two “fellows” out riding, and cited an incident where they actually interfered with a special event. Someone in the room summed it up: “Those two people are just jerks.”

    The Commission received a request from the Pacific Grove Unified School District to consider a passenger-loading zone on the south side of Sinex Avenue east of Forest. A motion was made to approve this pending confirmation from the Assistant Superintendent. The motion carried unopposed. Middle School Principal Mary Reidel expressed her gratitude and said she would inform parents by way of the school newsletter and website.

    A citizen’s letter complaining of four-seat surreys traveling in the street against traffic near Lover’s Point was tabled for further review next month pending review of the surrey vendor’s use permit.

    A citizen requested assistance with speeding traffic turning off Highway 68 onto Stuart Avenue. Motorists use the street to cut over to Seaview as a way to bypass the stoplight at Prescott and Forest. He emphasized this has been an ongoing problem. Different solutions were discussed. Chief Engles suggested a survey of neighborhood residents regarding possible infrastructure changes. Leinen made a motion to do that, and it passed unopposed.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 16, 2009

    Topics: Current Edition, Front PG News


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