RANCHO PALOS VERDES CITY COUNCIL
ADJOURNED REGULAR JOINT CITY COUNCIL/
TRAFFIC COMMITTEE MEETING
MARCH 30, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 7:07 p.m. by Mayor Gardiner at Ladera Linda Community Center, 32201 Forrestal Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes.
Roll call was answered as follows:
PRESENT: Clark, Long, Wolowicz, Stern and Mayor Gardiner
Also present were City Manager Les Evans; Assistant City Manager Carolynn Petru; City Attorney Carol Lynch; Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Joel Rojas; Director of Public Works Dean Allison; Director of Finance Dennis McLean; Nicole Jules; City Clerk/Administrative Services Director Jo Purcell; and, Minutes Secretary Debra Presutti.
Traffic Committee Chair Ava Shepherd led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Gardiner extended a warm welcome to the Traffic Committee members, noting the purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum to discuss issues and formulate broad guidelines rather than to discuss specific traffic issues, the goal being to develop a master framework to use when making decisions on individual cases.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor Gardiner, to approve the Agenda.
Jim Jones, Rancho Palos Verdes, expressed concern that a small unregistered group of the city’s citizens met clandestinely and had positioned themselves as representing a large segment of the population of RPV. He indicated, while he has no quarrel with their right to meet and state whatever they wish, he was disturbed he was not allowed to face these people who purport to be the voice of the citizenry to query whose words are being stated by their spokesperson, what was meant by the statement that their coalition had candidates selected for City Council and commission positions for the next ten years, and who selected them to speak for any citizen. He stated his dispute with this group is that secrecy has no place in the deliberations of a democratic society and urged citizens to reject this shadow City government until its members come into the open public forum.
Councilman Stern indicated, while government should always live up to the expectation that things be carried out in the open, how private citizens choose to express their views is not nor should it be the business of government. He read briefly from a Supreme Court decision that "the identity of the source is helpful in evaluating ideas, but the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market," saying anyone is entitled to make their point to this governing body and if they wish to remain anonymous that fact may be taken into consideration when determining the credence of what is being stated. He concluded by noting it would be heavy-handed for Council, as a governmental body to suggest the parties in question must reveal their identities.
CITY COUNCIL ORAL REPORTS:
Deferred without objection.
OLD BUSINESS/CITY MANAGER REPORTS:
APPROVAL OF CONSENT CALENDAR:
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Councilman Long, to approve the Consent Calendar, with the removal of Item No. 3, the Los Angeles Air Force Base Regional Alliance.
Motion to waive full reading.
Adopted a motion to waive reading in full of all ordinances presented at this meeting with consent of the waiver of reading deemed to be given by all Council members after the reading of the title.
Approved the minutes of January 10, 2004 Tactical Planning Workshop and March 16 Adjourned Regular Meeting.
FY 03-04 State Office of Traffic Safety Grants. (602)
(1) Approved the extension of the 2003-2004 Seat Belt Compliance Campaign grant, thereby authorizing the City to continue to act as the pass-through agency between the Lomita Sheriff’s Station and the State Office of Traffic Safety; and (2) Authorized the City to act as the pass-through agency between the Lomita Sheriff’s Station and the State Office of Traffic Safety for the 2003-2004 "You Drink and Drive, You Lose" Sobriety Checkpoint Program grant.
Crossing Guard Services For 2003-2004 School Year: Amendment No. 12 To All City Management Services Contract. (1503)
Authorized the Mayor and the City Clerk to execute Amendment No. 12 to the agreement with All City Management Services, Inc. (All City), for an amount not to exceed $15,915.00 to provide crossing guard services at Miraleste Intermediate School and Silver Spur Elementary School for the 2004-2005 School Year.
The motion to approve the Consent Calendar as amended carried on the following roll call vote:
AYES: Clark, Long, Wolowicz, Stern and Mayor Gardiner
# # # # # #
REMOVED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR:
Los Angeles Air Force Base Regional Alliance. (1101)
Mayor pro tem Clark recused himself from discussion of this item.
Mayor Gardiner suggested appointing an ad hoc subcommittee to return to Council with financial information and a recommendation as to content and format.
Councilman Long indicated he continued to hold a dim view of ad hoc committees but since this the purpose of this would be specifically to gather information and formulate solutions rather than set policy he has no objection.
Mayor Gardiner appointed an Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Councilman Wolowicz and Mayor Gardiner to develop format and content for reporting expenditures affecting budget; and moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to ADOPT RESOLUTION NO. 2004-22, AMENDING RESOLUTION 2003-42, THE BUDGET APPROPRIATION FOR FY 03-04, FOR A BUDGET ADJUSTMENT TO THE CITY’S GENERAL FUND.
REGULAR NEW BUSINESS:
Joint Workshop with Traffic Committee. (1502)
City Manager Evans indicated staff had prepared a 30-minute presentation which encompassed a history of the types of traffic problems encountered in the city, how they have been dealt with in the past, and a few case histories.
Mayor Gardiner suggested staff make their presentation uninterrupted followed by questions and comments from Council members and Traffic Committee members.
Mayor pro tem Clark suggested the Traffic Committee members be introduced. They were introduced as follows:
Tracy Bristol and Damon Willens, as the newest members; James Jones, Tom Wall, William Schurmer, Libby Aubrey, and Chair Ava Shepherd.
Nicole Jules presented the staff memorandum of March 30, 2004 and the recommendation that Council provide staff with direction on how to proceed with citywide neighborhood traffic calming. She outlined the key factors contributing to traffic-related issues: neighborhoods, high volume, cut-through traffic, and school related traffic problems, noting many of the areas involved in recent complaints had been near schools.
Jack Rydell indicated the current "tool box" being utilized to deal with traffic-related problems included the three "E’s" which were consistent with what is being employed by most agencies and included engineering, education, and enforcement, imperative components of any effective traffic-calming program. He explained the benefits of the three "E’s" as follows: education, which could take the form of speed feedback signs and radar trailers, inform motorists when they are doing or not doing, what is expected of them; engineering, with the primary principal being using the least restrictive methods to obtain the desired results, can be modified to conform to the specific needs of individual neighborhoods; and, enforcement which works despite its limitations.
Nicole Jules highlighted three recent case studies identifying the City’s use of the three "E’s" model as follows: 1) Basswood - Council authorized a very successful pilot program to install speed humps after residents complained of excessive speed in their neighborhood; 2) Via Rivera - after exploring several engineering alternatives, the Traffic Committee decided speed humps were the most appropriate traffic calming measure. Council preferred to explore other options including education and enforcement, and a three-month pilot program was implemented using radar feedback signs combined with increased enforcement. The results were inconclusive, and staff anticipated the matter will return to Council; 3) South Eastview - staff’s consulting traffic engineer developed a comprehensive plan designed to address traffic calming on a phased approach beginning with an increased education and enforcement phase followed by a more aggressive engineering solution including median extensions. The plan had been approved by the Traffic Committee but had not been formally presented to Council.
Captain Zuanich introduced a new concept known as Traffic Enforcement and Maintenance or "TEAM RPV" and conveyed great enthusiasm for the potential of this unique new approach to traffic enforcement in the city, saying it consisted of fresh new ideas to fulfill the mandate of City Council and the Traffic Committee to improve the quality of life for residents of RPV by decreasing the prevailing speeds in local residential neighborhoods, congested areas around schools, and on main highways. He explained the region currently employs two deputy sheriffs devoted to traffic enforcement on the day shift, saying unless their hours are flexed there is no dedicated traffic enforcement on the Peninsula during the evening hours or on weekends. He indicated TEAM RPV would incorporate public education, consistent personal contacts by deputies, stricter enforcement of traffic laws, and accountability of the program’s progress. He noted the program envisions three TEAM RPV deputies devoted exclusively to RPV, combining the duties of a traffic and a CORE deputy, adding the current regional contract traffic and CORE deputies would not be used in this capacity but would continue with their assigned duties.
Captain Zuanich continued by explaining the intent is for these new community traffic deputies to saturate the community via ongoing personal contacts with residents regarding traffic issues as well as education through liaisons with the PTA and school officials, Neighborhood Watch groups, and the media. He noted the program is people oriented and should have an immediate impact after initial education of the community, saying an "educational blitz" would be implemented in the form of newsletter distribution, speaking engagements, and cable TV appearances by the Mayor, City officials, and/or the Sheriff’s Department before embarking on the enforcement portion of the program. He indicated another benefit of this approach would be increased visibility of marked radio cars patrolling the city which would likely deter crime, adding, that although the deputies would not be assigned calls for service, they would be available to assist regular patrol units on incidents requiring immediate response.
He indicated the program also envisioned both informal and formal accountability; informal accountability being the requirement that deputies meet with a resident registering a neighborhood traffic complaint to discuss the issue, resolve it, and return with feedback; formal accountability being the documentation compiled of all contacts, problems, solutions, and number of citations written which would then be provided in a monthly or quarterly report to the City as directed.
Captain Zuanich concluded by saying this innovative program represented a progressive, proactive, people-oriented approach to stricter traffic enforcement which he believed other cities would some day be inspired to emulate.
Ava Shepherd thanked Council and staff for organizing this joint meeting, saying it provides a wonderful forum for everyone to come together to exchange information. She indicated as a unique city it is appropriate that RPV take a unique approach to the three "E’s", adding that this discussion was a welcome opportunity for the Traffic Committee and Council to formulate goals and objectives that will serve the needs of the city’s residents.
Mayor pro tem Clark commented that the time was long overdue for Council to meet with the Sheriff’s Department and the Traffic Committee to discuss the traffic issues plaguing the city and implement a framework in which to approach them. He noted, as the City attempted to grapple with the issues of safety caused by speeding and traffic flow through, articles recently published in USA Today indicated the problems created by unsafe and discourteous driving practices are being experienced on a daily basis throughout America. He indicated he has heard from more residents regarding safety and traffic concerns in the last year than he had during his entire tenure as a Council member, saying it was clearly a priority that needed to be promptly and effectively addressed.
Councilman Wolowicz indicated that traffic calming was a citywide issue Council should quickly and effectively initiate measures to deal with. He opined the burden of bringing up traffic-related issues should not rest solely with residents, saying staff and the Traffic Committee should take proactive steps to bring these matters to Council’s attention. He noted in cases such as Eastview and similar instances where residents are required to go through the process of obtaining signatures on petitions to bring forward a proposal, the initiation of such a proposal might best come from staff. He expressed favor for the phased approach designed for Eastview, saying he would like to explore how that concept of dealing with a number of items in a coordinated, cohesive fashion might be amplified in other situations.
Councilman Long, noting while he is always somewhat wary of joint workshops out of fear they might be misconstrued, stated his concept of the meeting was to help outline policy criteria but ultimately guidance to the Traffic Committee would be provided through ordinances as well as the outlining of policies in public hearings. He indicated his expectation of the Traffic Committee was to provide their expertise and independent judgment since they are the City’s specialists in this regard. He commented the goal of controlling speed while preserving the unique character of individual neighborhoods was important but it was also important to understand what provided the best value for the resources employed and that his questions would be along those lines when recommendations are presented.
Mayor Gardiner expressed hope that a citywide framework would be developed which could be applied in neighborhoods as appropriate, saying he is leery of implementing one thing in a particular area that creates a spill-over effect in another and would prefer to see more balance between the three "E’s", noting the City has rightly or wrongly taken more of an engineering-oriented approach in the past. He opined Council works best when presented with options including their strengths and weaknesses rather than a single approach to be voted on. He stated something must be done to address the problems of speed and volume and noted, while everyone was in favor of reducing speed, the issue of volume is much trickier because if it is limited in one area it will most assuredly surface in another. He indicated willingness to spend money but will also strive to protect the semi rural atmosphere of the city as much as possible, saying he believed traffic signals detract from that and other options are available.
Councilman Stern indicated his awareness of local enforcement and the Basswood speed humps and queried what if any other engineering solutions have been applied and if anything else has been done to date employing the three "E’s."
Ms. Jules answered some striping had been applied on Via Rivera and in Eastview and education and enforcement are routinely utilized, saying the latter seems to be somewhat of a "one-time fix" because, rather than being comprehensive, the sheriff is sent out if a particular request is received and there is usually very little follow-up.
Director Allison indicated the Sheriff’s Department does have a program in place, but there are 11 major hot spots within the city and there is not enough manpower to deal with each in a concerted fashion.
Councilman Long questioned why the three-month pilot enforcement program on Via Rivera was described as inconclusive.
Ms. Jules explained there were several dynamics involved in the program, noting it is viewed as somewhat successful because speeds were reduced when the deputies were present; however, speeds increased as soon as they left. She indicated the program was considered inconclusive because there were inconsistencies with the enforcement threshold being targeted.
Mayor Gardiner stated on Via Rivera the trip wire indicated 80 percent of vehicles were speeding at different periods but only one ticket was issued, saying, if that were the case, he would question the effectiveness of enforcement. He indicated there is information available, which suggests if enforcement is in place and people receive citations, there is a tendency to reduce speeds.
Mayor pro tem Clark commented that many residents are concerned about safety and speeding on the switchbacks on PV Drive East. He indicated it has become a raceway for various motorcycle clubs on weekends, creating a very serious problem, and hypothesized it is probably the most dangerous roadway in the entire city.
Captain Zuanich, noting the Mayor pro tem had just given him another directed patrol, said the Sheriff’s Department currently has 11 requests for directed patrols with only two deputies working the day shift Monday through Friday. He indicated he understands the concerns voiced and, since the deputies cannot be everywhere at once, the department is working on implementing a broad-based approach to the problem.
Councilman Long questioned if only one deputy was present at any given time during the three-month Via Rivera enforcement study, what the traffic flow was, and whether it would have been possible to write citations for the entire number of speed violators the Mayor previously mentioned.
Sgt. Reece Souza, of the Lomita Sheriff’s Station, answered there was generally only one officer present and that a citation takes approximately ten minutes to complete, adding during that period people usually slow down. He mentioned the deputies on duty indicated they were having a difficult time citing speeders while they were on site.
William Schurmer noted the number of citations issued on Via Rivera during the enforcement period between 1-21-03 and 5-2-03 was 71, adding the week of April 28 with enforcement and the speed trailer the average number of vehicles exceeding 35 mph was 135 or 1.9 percent; May 5 with the speed trailer and no enforcement present it was 5.5 percent; and, May 26 with no trailer or enforcement it jumped to 11.6 percent. He stated the number of citations issued from 4-21-03 to 5-5-03 was 19, adding of that number 11 were on surrounding streets and may have been residents, saying that statistic is a bit disconcerting when you consider the petition for enforcement was signed by residents in the local area which might provide some insight into the dynamics occurring there.
James Jones extended compliments to Nicole Jules, referring to her as the "Angel of the Traffic Committee," and received a resounding applause. He said she is well versed, well prepared, and a great servant to the City. He also expressed gratitude to Jack Rydell, saying he has been a breath of fresh air, has shown tremendous creativity and enthusiasm, and has a great command of the California Vehicle Code. He indicated the Traffic Committee has the necessary tools to perform its duties, noting almost all members have attended the annual Traffic Commissioners’ Workshop at least once and have available to them a manual containing nearly every ounce of data and example of traffic calming techniques in use. He opined there were many false starts on Via Rivera, much money was spent that in retrospect could have been better allocated, and noted the Traffic Committee’s recommendations were twice rejected by the previous Council with no inquiry into how their conclusions were reached. He expressed disappointment that all their diligent work had not been rewarded but also hopefulness that positive changes would ensue from the evening’s meeting.
Mayor pro tem Clark, reacting to Mr. Jones’s comments as a Council member who heard the Via Rivera matter, echoed the Mayor’s sentiment, preferring the Traffic Committee provide thoughtfully considered alternative approaches to solving traffic problems rather than single solutions and recommended the Committee bring forth sets of potential solutions for specific areas, outlining the good and bad points of each.
Councilman Long commented he would rather not have the Traffic Committee bring forward multiple solutions if they believe they have developed a single solution and do not believe there is an appropriate menu of choices.
Councilman Stern echoed Councilman Long’s sentiment, saying he would prefer not to have a menu of choices if the Traffic Committee believes based on their expertise there is one optimal solution; however, if there are valid alternatives, all of which could work, he would like to be given that choice.
Mayor Gardiner strongly objected to the single solution approach, saying he has taught public policy for 27 years and there is not a school in the country that recommends decision makers be given a single point solution to vote up or down but instead they be given alternatives to weigh the pros and cons.
Recess and Reconvene:
Mayor Gardiner recessed the meeting at 8:35 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 8:50 p.m.
Mayor Gardiner suggested the Traffic Committee identify specific areas they need Council’s guidance on.
Mayor pro tem Clark requested Tracy Bristol comment on the Eastview situation not as a Traffic Committee member but as a resident.
Tracy Bristol began by thanking Nicole Jules and Jack Rydell, saying they have been great to work with. She mentioned several of the other homeowner’s association board members reminded her the area is no longer Eastview South but Mira Vista and requested Council make that correction. She indicated the primary problems faced by Mira Vista are spillover and cut-through traffic created by the closure of access by other sections of Eastview, noting the area is not designed to handle the volume of traffic they are now getting. She said as a resident the process of addressing this has been very long and suggested the City examine the traffic calming program presented on Sacramento’s website, saying it is laid out well and includes processes and time lines. She explained they have utilized increased enforcement which works while the deputies are present and noted $15,000 can be spent on speed humps or $60,000 on enforcement, saying speed humps last forever and most residents she has spoken to prefer a hard traffic calming solution with something to enhance and beautify the neighborhood such as traffic circles or entry treatments.
Ms. Bristol inquired of the Sheriff’s Department why the speed trailers placed in the neighborhood are gone by 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, saying many speeding vehicles are present after that time.
Deputy Souza answered there are currently two CSA’s responsible for deploying the radar trailer, saying the trailer requires two people, one to deploy it and one to pick it up; so it’s basically an issue of manpower and the hours these deputies work.
Ms. Bristol mentioned another problem is notification of traffic calming devices and who should actually get to say which devices are implemented in a given neighborhood, querying whether it is limited to residents on the street, if it encompasses people within so many square miles, or if anyone is allowed to provide input. She indicated people five miles away are commenting on the issue which is very frustrating to area residents.
Mayor Gardiner explained in public policy there are always multiple stakeholders, saying the challenge that falls on Council is identifying who those stakeholders are. He indicated there are almost always different tradeoffs for different stakeholders depending on their specific priorities and Council must make determinations on such things as, for example, if there are only so many exits from the city, to what degree is the stakeholder someone that resides five or ten miles away from a logical traffic pattern that happens to run through a neighborhood.
Councilman Stern noted staff has placed some emphasis on this new approach encompassing an education and enforcement prong rather than the engineering prong Council has emphasized in the recent past, saying it is interesting to him but cost is a relevant concern. He agreed with Mayor Gardiner’s willingness to spend money but questioned the anticipated cost to achieve the defined goal of reducing speeds to an acceptable level.
City Manager Evans stated it costs between $130,000 to $150,000 for each deputy, calculating it would be approximately $450,000 for the three anticipated. He indicated the initial concept for the workshop was not for Council to adopt any specific programs but rather to have all the ideas outlined, including the one emphasizing education and enforcement. He agreed it would cost much more to employ an effective enforcement program than it will to provide engineering solutions, saying staff and the Traffic Committee need direction from Council on whether to consider pursuing this option.
Councilman Long mentioned he is aware of one enforcement program which cost the City approximately $60,000 for three months on one street which, if assigned a grade, would probably receive a C minus, saying he is very reluctant to approve a $450,000 expenditure without seeing a pilot program similar to Via Rivera implemented first. He opined the Traffic Committee can and should consider alternatives and present options to Council if they are having difficulty making decisions, saying if Council instructs the Committee to present options even when they believe they have a definitive solution, they are basically being told their independent advice is not relevant and Council would be better served having staff present options for them to consider and make determinations on. He expressed concern that Council is headed in this direction rather than benefiting from the knowledge and expertise of the Traffic Committee to ideally handle traffic issues in such a manner that Council will rarely be called upon to make detailed decisions.
Mr. Schurmer clarified that the cost for random enforcement was 120 hours at $56.50 per hour or $6,780 not $60,000 as previously mentioned.
Director Allison indicated his understanding is the Via Rivera program cost the City approximately $60,000, saying there are two elements to that cost; first, the cost of enforcement; and, second, the program to deploy the speed trailers. He stated his figures reflect approximately $35,000 for enforcement and $25,000 for the other elements of the program.
Captain Zuanich stated he did not come prepared with figures from Via Rivera but his recollection is the cost for enforcement was around $30,000.
Ms. Bristol brought to Council’s attention that the Mira Vista situation is still on hold.
Mayor Gardiner explained the matter was put on hold because people who considered themselves stakeholders felt they had been left out of the loop in the decision-making process.
Mayor pro tem Clark, in response to Councilman Long’s position, stated he believes all Council members would agree the Traffic Committee should present what it views as the best solution to a particular traffic issue but that should not preclude their presenting other sensible alternatives that could be implemented, providing Council an array of potential approaches to consider. He stated the object lesson for him on Via Rivera was, notwithstanding the diligent work put into the matter, Council was not willing to embrace a single solution and no options were presented for consideration. He said the question Council wrestled with was whether engineering solutions such as placing speed humps throughout the city were in fact the right answer or whether that would create a negative impact on the inherent character and nature of RPV.
He stated he has attended seminars in other cities that have implemented traffic and safety programs and has learned the uniqueness and character of individual neighborhoods needs to be considered in order to provide effective solutions. He indicated he believes Council should be presented with more than the preferred solution when other options make sense. He agreed the new TEAM RPV proposal merits consideration and input from the Traffic Committee, adding there are intriguing aspects to it, but the price tag is a concern.
Mayor Gardiner agreed with the idea of arranging a small pilot test and suggested the Traffic Committee recommend a location.
Councilman Long recommended such a pilot test as an action item and, noting he was unaware the South Eastview traffic plan had been put on hold, requested the matter be placed on the agenda for the first City Council meeting staff finds it can reasonably be considered. He indicated he also would be interested in the Traffic Committee’s recommendation on a location to run a pilot test, saying the results of the Via Rivera enforcement program appear less than optimal and he would like to determine if there are other ways enforcement programs can be run with better outcomes and a price tag less than the projected $450,000. He agreed with the preference not to see the city become a collection of barriers and fortresses but indicated he remains unconvinced that devoting large sums of money to enforcement is appropriate until a greater degree of success is seen particularly in light of the fact user fees and taxes may very well need to be raised by the City to address very expensive infrastructure problems.
Ms. Shepherd noted the Traffic Committee has discussed creative ways to help pay for some of their innovative ideas and programs but have not yet arrived at any sound conclusions. In response to providing alternative options, she indicated they are very comfortable with that idea since there is almost always an alternative although usually with some type of impact. She said oftentimes a majority vote with a very close margin is obtained on a recommendation and it might be a good idea for Council to be aware of the alternatives, their impacts, and the discussion surrounding them if for no other reason than to let Council members know their subject experts have thoroughly and conscientiously reviewed the matter before arriving at a decision.
Mayor Gardiner queried if the Traffic Committee has the City Attorney available to them.
Ms. Shepherd answered, at their meetings, they do not; however, they do request staff present certain things to the City Attorney when legal issues are encountered.
Mayor Gardiner asked to what degree the City has the ability to raise the current fines or impose additional fines to make some of the proposed traffic measures self-funding.
City Manager Evans responded the City keeps the majority of funds generated from traffic fines such as speeding tickets, noting, however, the City does not have the ability to set the fine.
City Attorney Lynch concurred the City cannot set traffic fines except within certain distances of schools.
Councilman Long mentioned he previously requested the matter of setting fines as an agenda item, saying in his view the matter of fines is very closely intertwined with enforcement not only in terms of paying some of the cost but also in terms of increasing the effectiveness of the enforcement.
Mr. Schurmer indicated three counties in California have implemented pilot programs revising the distance and doubling the base fine in school zones. He questioned whether it is possible for a municipality to design their own municipal code.
City Attorney Lynch said that pilot program has not been extended to this area, noting local jurisdictions do have some ability to make decisions regarding extending distances near schools thereby boosting fines and increasing the speed zone in those areas.
Captain Zuanich indicated the TEAM RPV option he presented is just that – an option – adding it was developed by a committee consisting of five members of the City and 4 members of the Sheriff’s Department and is not an attempt by the Lomita Station to obtain more deputies or more cars. He noted that pilot programs can be good, but, unfortunately, Via Rivera was not. He stated one specific of the TEAM RPV program he would like to point out is consistency, saying when you have a pilot program different individuals are on schedule and many are working overtime; whereas the this new program would provide the same personnel working the same neighborhoods, getting to know the residents and helping to resolve problems.
Councilman Long queried if there is a way to design the pilot program to be a smaller version of the full-scale program, opining there is no point conducting a pilot if it is not representative.
Mayor Gardiner agreed Council does not want to make a financial commitment without a meaningful pilot and requested the Traffic Committee suggest a mechanism for an initial test to ensure it will be representative of the larger program.
Councilman Wolowicz stated he does not want to abandon engineered solutions but is very interested in the idea of weaving it through with enforcement, saying Council should allow both programs the opportunity to run pilot tests.
Mayor pro tem Clark moved, seconded by Councilman Wolowicz, that the Traffic Committee review the TEAM RPV proposal and provide their input and recommendations. He suggested incorporating into the motion the Traffic Committee also bring forward their proposed alternatives and solutions to provide some insight into their thinking as well as other possible approaches.
Councilman Long stated he would prefer to pose things a bit more precisely by saying Council instructs the Traffic Committee to return with recommendations for specifically designing a pilot program as a way of testing the TEAM RPV proposal to determine its effectiveness.
Councilman Stern requested clarification of whether the motion is requesting the Traffic Committee to review the TEAM RPV proposal and determine if it is something to include in the repertoire of options or if they are being asked if it is something Council should implement.
Mayor pro tem Clark explained that matter will be left to their discretion, saying he is not willing at this point to implement the program but would like them to review it and provide feedback which might include they believe the program should be implemented and an approach to doing so.
Mayor Gardiner spoke in favor of the motion, saying the entire Traffic Committee has had the benefit of the discussion and he would like to extend to them maximum flexibility to use their expertise to consider the matter and recommend whether or not a pilot program is a good idea and, if so, ideas on how and where to proceed.
Councilman Long indicated he also supports the motion and the way the Mayor articulated conducting the pilot tests, saying he wanted the Traffic Committee’s independent advice but, based on the current information, if the Traffic Committee returns with the recommendation that it is advisable to move to direct a full implementation of the program without a pilot test, he will be looking for more information to validate that opinion.
Thomas Wall inquired if Council wished the Traffic Committee to consider the financial aspects of the program as well.
Councilman Long indicated that should be included.
Mayor Gardiner added they should provide their best thinking on all relevant dimensions including cost.
Jeannine Etcheverry, Eastview Townhouse Homeowner’s Association President, said she has listened to many ideas and, complimenting Captain Zuanich and the committee for their promising plan, queried what happened to the plan brought forward on December 1, 2003, noting several months have passed, nothing has happened, and their neighborhood is still being inundated with traffic. She mentioned the traffic on Crestwood is atrocious and worried that children in the immediate vicinity are in serious danger not from people who do not reside in the area but from local residents picking up and dropping off their children at school. She urged Council to instruct that one of the sheriff’s cars be stationed there to issue citations when school starts in the morning and ends in the afternoon in an attempt to address the problem immediately rather than wait for the Traffic Committee to return with another recommendation months from now.
Barry Hildebrand, in response to Council’s comment that no alternatives were presented when the Traffic Committee made its presentation on Via Rivera, disagreed, saying four alternatives, including edge striping, curb extensions, chokers, and speed humps were submitted for consideration. He indicated traffic circles would not fit on that street or on most other streets within the city because in most instances the road width will not accommodate them. He stated the Traffic Committee reviewed and digested the traffic calming policies of several other cities and incorporated the best of those into this City’s policy and, when they were submitted to Council with a notification approval radius of 500 feet around an impacted street, Council summarily advised that no traffic calming could be achieved with the adoption of such a policy; so the policy was revised and now does just the opposite of Mayor Gardiner’s wish to include all the stakeholders by limiting them to just the residents of those streets. He opined this is the way it should be and is the only way traffic calming can be achieved in RPV. He noted Council approved this revision to the official operating document and said the public has a right to expect an end result from a Council-approved policy but that has not happened on Via Rivera and it is beginning to appear that it might not happen in Eastview either.
Mayor Gardiner noted Mr. Hildebrand pointed out an issue Council needs to address which is the degree to which the current guidelines reflect their wishes. He reiterated the issue of stakeholders is enormously important as well as complicated, explaining, if you have a thoroughfare which a great number of cars travel daily and you also have residents living in that neighborhood, what happens on that street involves the people who drive that road as well as the residents, making all these individuals stakeholders in the outcome of any decision on that roadway. He noted the question becomes what works best in a particular area for the majority of people involved using a balanced approach of education, engineering, and enforcement, adding there is also the question of whether anything can be done to address volume.
Councilman Stern stated one of the things he learned from the experiences in Via Rivera in particular is each neighborhood is different, noting the overriding problem in that neighborhood is how stakeholders are defined. He opined the bottom line there was residents in the nearby vicinity who travel the road daily were not considered as stakeholders even though they were certainly impacted by the proposed solution. He commented Eastview is an entirely different situation so it may not make sense to define stakeholders with a one-size-fits-all model because of the divergent impacts of specific areas.
William Schurmer agreed Eastview and Via Rivera are entirely different cases, saying Eastview is extremely complex because it creates domino effects in many places and requires multiple solutions. He opined by doing nothing or not enough in Via Rivera the unabated right to speed has been preserved to the detriment of the residents who live there. He indicated that engineering staff has worked diligently adapting measures in the Traffic Calming Manual that might resolve the issue, saying the Traffic Committee and staff will have wasted a considerable amount of time developing a program that in the end is unacceptable if Council does not want to use speed humps or some similar measures. He requested direction from Council on how to proceed.
Councilman Long stated Mr. Schurmer has made a valid point, adding the policy should be modified to clarify whether Council has determined an engineering solution should be considered only as a last resort. He indicated a clear understanding of exactly what the problems are is needed, saying he would not describe volume as strictly an issue of volume but more where that volume is located, noting some streets are appropriate for through traffic and others are not. He commented he resides in an area where he must travel a mile south before he can go north again even though he lives no more than a couple hundred yards from PV Drive North. He stated, if the developer of this area had included a small cut-through street to PV Drive North, there is no doubt many cars would be traversing his street in order to save a small amount of time to reach that major thoroughfare and those people would then become stakeholders and there might well be ten times as many of them as there are residents on that street. He opined the interests of those stakeholders are dramatically outweighed by those of the residents in the neighborhood they are disrupting, noting each instance requires a very careful balancing of stakeholders’ interests.
Lt. John Herrera of the Lomita Sheriff’s Station, queried who actually had the right to petition for analysis and request a solution – the people on residential streets who are directly affected or anyone who is in some way impacted by a decision, saying the center of focus for this discussion should be whether or not the City’s Traffic Calming Policy as it is written is still in effect.
Mayor Gardiner agreed the issue once again returns to the definition of stakeholders, saying a proposal might come forward that fits perfectly for an area but creates a negative impact for people who traverse it; so it is important to provide an alternative that will satisfy the needs of both groups.
Councilman Long moved, seconded by Councilman Stern, to reaffirm the City’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program as revised January 2002 and instructed the Traffic Committee to continue to implement it.
Ava Shepherd indicated she believes as written it is not as effective a program as it could be, saying the Traffic Committee should further review it since only portions are useful, many issues have changed – including the identification of stakeholders – and some elements are missing entirely. She stated it is not a policy but a program which needs to be examined to see if newer more innovative approaches can be applied.
Mayor pro tem Clark indicated, if Councilman Long would change his motion to incorporate Ms. Shepherd’s suggestion, he certainly would support it.
Councilman Long declined.
Mr. Schurmer agreed the current program should be approved with the proviso that the Traffic Committee return with improvements.
Councilman Wolowicz indicated he would prefer some recommendations from the Traffic Committee as to what things in their view might need to be improved, saying his opinion is some elements definitely need to be revisited.
Councilman Long commented every document, ordinance, policy, and program in the City is always a work in progress, adding he would certainly encourage the Traffic Committee to agendize any suggested improvements. He indicated he has heard no specific recommendations only a general statement that the program needs to be reconsidered and reiterated his previous motion, saying he is not opposed to including the concept that the Committee is free to review any and all relevant ordinances and make specific recommendations for change to Council.
Mayor Gardiner spoke against the motion, saying he realizes all City and public policy documents are constantly subject to revision. He indicated if there are flaws contained in this particular document – such as the definition of stakeholders – he sees no purpose in reaffirming it but would rather fix it and have it brought back as expeditiously as possible in order to create a more workable form of guidance. He stated the topics of speeding, volume, and other traffic-related issues are challenging enough when the Traffic Committee and Council are working together, noting they currently are not because much of the Traffic Committee’s guidance has been inconsistent with what Council has set forth as workable solutions.
Mayor pro tem Clark echoed the Mayor’s sentiments, saying as an outgrowth of this workshop he supported directing the Traffic Committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the traffic program guidelines and suggest any needed changes. He indicated he was also unaware the Eastview matter was on hold and recommended the matter come before Council as soon as possible.
Councilman Stern spoke in favor of Councilman Long’s motion, noting, while he is in agreement with some of the concerns that everyone be heard and he is not adverse to the Traffic Committee re-examining the definition of stakeholders, he does not view it as such a flaw that he would not want them to have the current document as a tool to move forward. He indicated they should, however, have the ability to bring improvements to Council as necessary.
Councilman Long clarified the point of his motion is to reaffirm the current document with the ability of the Traffic Committee to bring forth specific suggestions for change as they find applicable. He indicated it is important to have a set of guidelines in place even while attempting to improve them and urged support of the motion which is essentially to reaffirm the program until such time as it is changed, rewritten, or amended.
Mayor pro tem Clark suggested one small change – to reaffirm the Traffic Calming Program in the current document while tasking the Traffic Committee to comprehensively review it and bring forth any revisions they find appropriate.
Libby Aubrey stated the City’s Traffic Calming Program is wonderful but is in much need of enhancement in certain areas. She indicated the three "E’s" are great but she also sees ways to mitigate costs and combine alternatives to maximize potential, saying, in addition to the fact that not all stakeholders are necessarily taken into consideration, there are ways to exchange information with different groups within the community to more effectively educate them and provide a more collaborative vision of what is wanted by the community for their neighborhoods. She suggested looking at mechanisms to enhance the program already in place in conjunction with some of the concepts of the three "E’s."
Councilman Wolowicz clarified Council’s mindset is to reaffirm the program but for the Traffic Committee to review it and return with comments and suggestions.
City Clerk Purcell attempted to clarify the motion and the amendment and Councilman Long reiterated that he would not accept the amendment.
Councilman Stern indicated he would second Mayor pro tem Clark’s amendment if it were still viable.
Ms. Shepherd requested clarification of the amendment, noting it speaks to reviewing traffic policies but does not specifically mention the traffic program.
Councilman Stern moved, seconded by Mayor pro tem Clark, to amend the motion to specifically include the Traffic Calming Program.
Councilman Long explained his position by saying he is normally loathe to task a committee with the job of reviewing something and doing a better job. He reiterated he has heard only vague suggestions without specifics as to what improvements are needed with the exception of stakeholders not being properly defined.
Mr. Schurmer responded there is one specific that could be included – speed cushions, which are speed humps that allow emergency response vehicles to travel relatively unimpeded, saying they have been partially constructed as a test on Forrestal and have received a great deal of positive feedback.
Mayor pro tem Clark commented speed cushions are an example of potential engineering tools but there have also been enforcement tool advances such as cameras. He suggested the Traffic Committee carefully review not just engineering improvements but enforcement and education solutions as they examine and evaluate the program.
Council unanimously agreed, with the abstention of Councilman Long, to the following amended motion: (1) Traffic Committee directed to review the TEAM RPV project proposed by Capt. Zuanich in his March 25, 2004 letter to the City and make a proposal whether or not to implement in whole for a certain length of time or in part as a pilot program; provide rationale why it is good or bad and provide any alternatives they develop; Council needs to know costs and possible side effects; (2) reaffirmed the Traffic Calming Program as amended in 2002 and instructed the Traffic Committee to use it and implement it; Traffic Committee was requested to review ordinances and all traffic policies, including the Traffic Calming Program, and make specific recommendations to the City Council; and (3) Staff to agendize the Mira Vista (Eastview) Traffic Study as soon as appropriate.
Councilman Wolowicz mentioned a street, which was to be vacated, and the discovery that street was not within the purview of the Traffic Committee. He inquired who established that rule and if anything precludes the City from including such a street in the Traffic Committee’s charter.
Councilman Stern indicated all City streets are with the Traffic Committee’s purview.
City Manager Evans clarified every street within the City does come under their purview, noting, however, there are legal limitations on their ability to make certain recommendations.
Lt. Herrera requested Council’s direction whether the Traffic Committee should consider mechanisms to reduce traffic volume in areas within the city or simply deal with specific traffic problems such as speeding.
Councilman Stern indicated they should investigate all viable solutions to whatever problems are presented.
Councilman Long indicated this is essentially what is being grappled with, saying Council probably has a couple sentiments – one, as the Mayor expressed most candidly, that engineering solutions not be used in most instances because of their incompatibility with the semi-rural nature of RPV, saying his preference would be selecting solutions based more on cost effectiveness; the second, an overriding belief that nothing can be done about volume so the focus should be primarily on speed, saying he disagrees because the difference is not so much the volume itself but where that volume is.
Ms. Shepherd reiterated the point that RPV is inherently very unique; so a cookie-cutter approach to volume or speed will never apply. She indicated the difficulty lies in the fact there are many aspects to consider: issues related to school traffic, pedestrian safety, and speed, as well as issues of topography and grades.
Mayor Gardiner stated he does not want to be characterized as ruling anything in or out, saying he prefers to look for alternatives, measures of effectiveness, and acceptability across a broad spectrum. He said individual Council members might place different levels of importance on various things – cost, preserving the rural atmosphere, et cetera – noting he believes it is imperative to present alternatives so all the factors can be contrasted and compared. As to the specific point of volume, he indicated he is very skeptical much can be done about it, adding that is not to say nothing can.
Mayor pro tem Clark thanked staff for orchestrating a very productive meeting with the Traffic Committee as well as all their time and effort in putting together a great presentation with Captain Zuanich and the other representatives from the Lomita Sheriff’s Station.
Mayor Gardiner, on behalf of Council and the city’s residents, extended gratitude to each member of the Traffic Committee for volunteering their time, saying the work they do is not easy and the challenges will continue as the city grows. He indicated he is certain the city’s residents have no idea how much time they actually devote to this very important work.
COUNCIL DISCUSSION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS & SUGGESTION OF FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS:
CLOSED SESSION REPORT:
City Attorney Lynch reported Council unanimously voted to retain the services of Baker, Botts, a Washington, D.C. law firm, to represent the City in connection with petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court in the Abrams case.
Mayor Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 10:49 p.m. to Saturday April 3rd at 9:00 a.m. for a closed session to be held in the Conference Room at City Hall.
Councilman Long indicated he will not be present for that meeting since it will be addressing negotiations with Cox Cable and he is recused.
/s/ Peter C. Gardiner
/s/ Jo Purcell