Not Every Resident Is Happy, However
Two bogus stop signs have been discovered in the tony neighborhood of southern Point Loma, near the Point Loma campus of Nazarene University. In July, 2012, a stop sign appeared on Jennings Street. The counterfeit signs have many supporters among local residents, and even the City signed off (no pun intended) on one of them – but, not everyone is happy.
Residents along Jennings at Albion Street and Silvergate Avenue are divided on the issue. Some say the bogus signs have made their neighborhood more safer for pedestrians, children, and walkers.
And some of them have been complaining to the City about traffic speeding through their ritzy neighborhood for over a decade. In fact, residents in 2000 asked the City to do something and allow stop signs, but the City declined, and installed a “Yield” sign. Residents also asked the City again later in 2000, and also in early 2001, and city staff deemed stop signs unnecessary.
Local resident Van Thaxton has been visible in this issue. He stated to the press:
“… when the stop signs were put in, we’ve noticed a reduction of speed on the street, there have been fewer cars, it really has felt a lot safer.”
Thaxton has lived on Silvergate since 1996, and told the press that he believes the types of people and families who live in the immediate area of the community have changed over the years - from older retired folks to one of younger families with children. He stated to the press:
“They don’t know that a yield sign means slow down almost to a stop and make sure no one else is coming, they almost don’t see a yield sign and blow right through it.”
Thaxton believes that drivers ignore the yield signs and end up speeding through intersections and along the streets, bringing potential harm to the neighborhood. He said that a number of fender benders have resulted at Jennings and Silver Gate, including one where the vehicle hit a home. He said:
“Bottom line, it’s a safety issue. You have to change with the changing neighborhood.”
A stop sign then appeared in July. And then another. The U-T reported:
One of the rogue signs has been up since July, untouched by city crews. Another was taken down and later replaced by an official City of San Diego sign.
Both were blessed by a city process that allowed the local community planning group and Councilman Kevin Faulconer to overrule the determination of civil engineers.
A resurfacing crew even accommodated the unauthorized “stop” signs by painting “STOP” in big white letters on the pavement, thinking the previous “YIELD” letters were a mistake.
Following the rogue action, the city’s traffic engineering staff again evaluated the situation to see if stop signs were warranted. The city grades the intersections on a point scale, with 20 points being the minimum for an all-way stop sign. Both intersections scored 11 points, short of the requirement.
At the time that the bogus signs were discovered, the City took one out and replaced it with the prior yield sign. Residents jumped into action and contacted Councilmember Faulconer’s office, asking that he assist them in getting the City to return the stop sign.
One l ocal resident Simon Borger wrote to Faulconer in January:
“The issue is the danger of that corner and… a serious safety issue that could potentially affect the entire neighborhood, certainly be catastrophic for homes in the immediate area.”
But others are not happy. A group feels that the City, by okaying the counterfeit signs after-the-fact, has approved of the removal of its yellow yield sign and its replacement – all based on wrong facts. Don Farnsworth, a resident of Silvergate since the 1970s opposed the action:
“The city by its actions is saying that it is OK to take down a sign, because there is a process to legitimize it.”
He wants the signs removed. He told the press:
“I think it’s interesting that someone had the audacity to put up signs to suit their own needs. It’s a nuisance to stop at all these stop signs, there’s five signs here, you could throw a rock and hit five different stop signs here.”
The issue of the stop signs went to the local Point Loma planning group, called the Peninsula Planning Committee. Removing stop signs is illegal, but City policy allows for such signs if the local planning group approves them and they also get the okay from a council member.
And in January, the Peninsula Community Planning Group voted in favor of the stop sign. Faulconer also gave his approval.
Yet those local residents who oppose the stop signs claim that the Councilman and the Point Loma planners were ignorant of important points. They claim that a petition that was circulated around and then presented to authorities with a hundred signatures actually included less than 50 locals – with most not living in the area. They also allege that Faulconer’s office and the planners didn’t have the correct info on who actually installed the signs.
The signers, according to Farnsworth, “… were from Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Chula Vista, and that got my interest,” he said.
Faulconer responded this week and stated that his office has asked the Peninsula Planning Committee to look at the issue again in May. His office made this statement:
“The District 2 office only recently became aware of deficiencies in the stop sign petition that could cause some to question whether enough neighbors had been included in the decision making process. That is one of the reasons our office is calling for the Peninsula Community Planning Board to hold a new hearing to ensure all neighbors can have a voice on this quality of life issue.”