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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS
DATE: SEPTEMBER 21, 2004
SUBJECT: MIRA VISTA TRAFFIC CALMING
Since February 2003 staff has worked with the residents of the residents of the Mira Vista neighborhood to address traffic concerns in their community. Petitions were received in February and March of 2003 by residents along both General Street, and Trudie Drive requesting the installation of speed humps. In accordance with the City’s Traffic Calming Program traffic volumes and speeds in the neighborhood were measured and it was determined that several roadways in the neighborhood meet the criteria for implementation of traffic calming measures.
In November 2003 a comprehensive traffic study was conducted, from which a four-step traffic-calming plan was prepared. The Traffic Calming Plan has been reviewed on several occasions by the Traffic Committee, most recently on June 26, 2004, at which time the four step plan was approved. The committee also recommended the implementation of Step One of the plan.
The Traffic Calming Plan for the Mira Vista Neighborhood consists of four steps with each step being more severe in its approach to reducing speed and volumes. The plan proposes that each step, after the first step, will be implemented only if the earlier step is not successful.
A summary of the four-step plan is attached as Exhibit A. A chronology of action taken to date is attached as Exhibit B.
If the four-step plan is approved this evening, staff will return to the next available City Council agenda with a budget resolution to provide funding. The remaining action items in implementing the four-step plan are summarized on the flow chart attached as Exhibit C.
The objective of the City’s Traffic Calming Program is to " improve the livability of our neighborhoods and to minimize adverse impacts of vehicular traffic on residential streets through a system of education, enforcement, and engineering." The Traffic Calming Program states that a roadway will be considered a candidate for traffic calming measures if it meets the following criteria:
The speeds and volumes in the Mira Vista neighborhood are as follows:
To bring context to speed and volume data for the Mira Vista neighborhood a comparison is made to other residential neighborhoods that have been investigated:
Not all roadways within the Mira Vista neighborhood meet the criteria for traffic calming, however, given that several of the roadways do meet the criteria, and the fact that the roadway network in Mira Vista neighborhood is such that actions taken on one roadway could spill over to an adjacent roadway, a traffic calming solution should consider all roadways.
Volume measurements taken on various streets within the Mira Vista neighborhood reveal that the three primary access streets (Enrose Avenue, General Street and Trudie Drive) carry a total daily volume of approximately 12,800 vehicles. The neighborhood, which consists of approximately 600 homes, would be expected to contribute approximately 6,000 vehicles per day to the roadway system. Crestwood Elementary School would be expected to add another 700 vehicles per day. Considering this information, it appears that a significant cut through situation exists. For this location, cut through traffic is defined as motorists using the streets within Mira Vista solely to travel between Miraleste Drive and Western Avenue. The exact number of cut through vehicles is not known, however it appears that the percentage could be in the 40% range of all counted vehicles. It should also be noted that volumes on most of the roadways within Mira Vista declined by approximately 30% during the 2004 school spring break period.
Before identifying specific solutions it is perhaps helpful to focus on the overall philosophy of why actions should be taken, and what type of actions should be taken in the Mira Vista neighborhood. Staff believes that it is appropriate to make neighborhoods more livable by taking steps with respect to cut through traffic. Both the City’s General Plan and Traffic Calming Program support this concept. The General Plan states "Local streets are minor networks, whose basic function is to provide access to dwelling units." Further, it is a General Plan policy to "Design public access into residential areas to control non-local traffic." One of the stated goals of the Traffic Calming Program is to "eliminate, or discourage, non-local, cut-through traffic on residential streets." Staff believes these two documents encourage us to propose traffic calming plans that trade off a convenient and efficient cut through route in favor of more livable neighborhoods.
Staff believes that the Mira Vista cut through is a popular route to Western Avenue from Palos Verdes Drive East due in part to an ability of motorist to drive above the speed limit. The four-step plan is aimed at correcting this by requiring motorist to drive at the posted speed limit. Motorists will not be prohibited from entering the community; they must simply drive at the posted speed limit. If the plan is successful, speeds will drop and the neighborhood will be more livable for its residents. In addition, by reducing vehicle speeds, the shortcut to and from Western Avenue becomes less attractive and traffic volumes will drop.
With this philosophy in mind the four-step Traffic Calming Program approved by the Traffic Committee encompasses all three elements of traffic calming; Education, Enforcement, and Engineering.
Step One: Enforcement
Step One consists of increased enforcement and neighborhood education. The increased enforcement consists of a dedicated sheriff patrol on an overtime basis for two hours per day for a period of 90 days. Also included in step one is the installation of speed feedback signs, and the deployment of a new radar trailer at strategic locations.
The Mira Vista neighborhood received increased enforcement in the past, shortly after residents made contact with the city. The increased enforcement consisted of additional traffic patrols by the existing resources of the Sheriff. The increased enforcement was unsuccessful in creating a lasting reduction in speeds or volumes.
Staff is hopeful that a second round of increased enforcement will be more successful than the first. This second round will focus more resources in the neighborhood; it will include an educational element, and will be more closely monitored. The deployment of speed feedback signs and the radar trailer will also enhance enforcement.
Upon the completion of step one an assessment will be made to determine if it has been successful. A report will be presented to both the Traffic Committee and the City Council for consideration. If it is determined that Step One has not successful staff will recommend that Step Two be implemented. In a similar fashion once Step Two is implemented an assessment will be made as to its success and presented to the Traffic Committee and City Council. A complete outline of steps in this process is outlined in Exhibit C.
Step Two: Speed Humps
Step Two proposes to construct 12 speed humps at strategic locations within the neighborhood. Exhibit D attached shows the proposed locations. Speed Humps are recommended because they have generally been successful in reducing speeds. Our experience with speed humps is limited to Basswood Avenue, and as summarized in Exhibit E the speeds were significantly reduced on that roadway.
Step Three: Semi Diverters
Step Three of the plan proposes to install three semi-diverters. Semi diverters are traffic control devices that restrict turning movements at intersections. They are proposed at certain locations to direct traffic away from roadways without speed humps and onto roadway with speed humps. Step Three of the plan will be implemented only if it is found that motorists are circumventing speed humps by moving off the General/Enrose/Trudie corridor and onto those roadways without speed humps. Exhibit F attached shows the locations of the proposed semi diverters.
Step Four: Median barriers
Step Four of the plan proposes to construct two median barriers. Median barriers are traffic control devices that restrict certain movements at an intersection. Like semi diverters they are proposed at locations to direct traffic away from roadways without speed humps and onto roadways with speed humps. Step Four of the plan will be implemented only if it is found that motorist are circumventing the speed humps by moving off the General/Enrose/Trudie corridor and onto those roadways without speed humps. Exhibit G attached shows the locations of the proposed median barriers.
How is success measured?
An integral part of the Traffic Calming Plan is that each step will be evaluated and considered a success if it achieve the overall goal of reducing speeds, reducing overall volume, without a significant spillover of traffic from one street to another.
To be considered a success the Four Step Mira Vista Traffic Calming Plan must achieve:
Fire Department policy on speed humps
The Fire Department does not recommend the installation of speed humps. In a Speed Hump Information Sheet the County Fire Department states that:
In discussions with representative of the Fire Department it is clear that speed humps are one of several traffic control measures that delay response time. For example stop signs as well as traffic signals have the potential to delay Fire Department response time. A copy of correspondence from the County Fire Department is attached as Exhibit H.
Speed Humps and potential City Liability
In a September 10, 2004 memorandum from the City Attorney states that speed humps properly installed in accordance with accepted standards should not be found by a court to constitute a dangerous condition of public property that would give rise to City liability.
Furthermore the City Attorney opined that the immunities provided by the Government Code make it unlikely that a claim against the City would be successful, if it were based solely on the grounds that the installation of the speed humps cause an increase of Fire Department emergency response time. A copy of the memorandum from the City Attorney is attached as Exhibit I.
Letter from the Joint Powers Insurance Authority
In preparation for this report staff contacted our insurance carrier, the Joint Powers Insurance Authority (JPIA), for input on the potential for speed humps. In a September 2, 2004 letter, the JPIA states that they have not adopted a position on whether members should install speed humps. The JPIA further states that in their 26 year history they received a total of 22 claims regarding speed humps, four of which resulted in payments with an aggregate loss of $2,400. A copy of that letter is attached as Exhibit J.
Area of the petition for speed humps
The traffic-calming program states that when determining the level of support for a traffic calming measure such as speed humps the petition area shall be the roadway or roadway segment on which the speed humps are proposed. It is the recommendation of staff and the Traffic Committee that we deviate from this guideline. The rationale is that because of the roadway network in the neighborhood there is a likelihood that speed humps constructed on one street could have a spill over effect on an adjacent street, and thus acceptance of speed humps by the entire Mira Vista neighborhood as demonstrated by the petition process is recommended.
The residents of the Mira Vista neighborhood have voiced sustained and energetic support for the construction of entrance treatments to their community for traffic calming purposes. Staff believes that these devices would not be successful. Our rationale is that entrance treatments are useful in giving notice to motorist that they are about to enter into a residential neighborhood, and that if they wish to reach another destination they should not enter. A good use of these devices is at the exit point of a commercial parking lot in which the freeway is in one direction and a residential neighborhood, with entrance treatments, is in the opposite direction. Staff believes that motorist utilizing the Mira Vista cut through do so with full knowledge they are cutting through a
residential neighborhood and pointing this out to them would not be productive.
One alternative action would be to request staff to proceed with Step Two of the Traffic Calming Plan at this time. Under such an alternative the next step in the process would be to conduct a preliminary engineering plan for the proposed speed humps and to begin working with the Mira Vista Community to circulate petitions within the project area.
A second alternative would be to move forward with Step One of the Traffic Calming Plan, but request staff to proceed with the preliminary engineering to enable the neighborhood to begin circulation of the of the petition for speed humps within the project area.
During the course of preparing the Traffic Calming Plan several options were investigated but rejected:
Prohibit left turns from eastbound Miraleste Drive to Enrose Drive. The Traffic Committee at their October 2003 meeting considered this alternative. This alternative was rejected based upon testimony given by residents who were principally from outside the Mira Vista Community. In addition the Sheriff’s Department felt that such a restriction would be difficult to enforce and easy to circumvent.
Close or construction a gate on Enrose Drive in the vicinity of Miraleste Drive. Although enforcement would be less of a problem than Alternative Three above, again residents spoke against a similar solution at the October 2003 Traffic Committee meeting.
Take no action
Dean E. Allison
Director of Public Works
Attachments:Exhibit E – Case Study: Speed Hump Installation on Basswood Avenue
Exhibit M – Correspondence file on Mira Vista Traffic Calming– hard copy available at the Public Works counter
Exhibit N – Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program – hard copy available at the Public Works CounterSeptember 21, 2004 City Council Meeting - Citywide traffic enforcement: Team RPV