CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA
TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMISSION
JULY 23, 2007
CALL TO ORDER: Chair Shepherd called the meeting to order at 7:07 PM at Rancho Palos Verdes Community Room
ROLL CALL: PRESENT: Chair Shepherd, Vice Chair Willens, Commissioners Bilezerian, Kramer, Parfenov, Wells
ABSENT: Commissioner Wright
ALSO PRESENT: Jim Bell, Director, Public Works; Jack Rydell, Traffic Engineer, Wildan; Siamak Motahari, Senior Engineer, Public Works; Sgt. Paul Creason, Sheriff's Department; Frances M. Mooney, Recording Secretary
FLAG SALUTE: Commissioner Kramer led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Commissioner Wells moved approval of the Agenda as modified to place Public Comments before the Sheriff’s Report, seconded by Commissioner Kramer.
This section of the agenda is for audience comments for items not on the agenda.
Stanley and Marilyn Kritzer, 3832 Pirate Drive, stated that they represent the Ladera Linda Homeowners’ Association (HOA) and attended this meeting to request a status report on the traffic signal at Palos Verdes Drive South (PVDS) and Forrestal Drive.
Chair Shepherd confirmed with Senior Engineer Motahari that the situation is status quo. She asked Senior Engineer Motahari to get the information and call Mr. and Mrs. Kritzer because they are having difficulty in reaching Senior Engineer Dragoo.
Craig Whited, 31145 Palos Verdes Drive East at the corner of Ganado, thanked the Commission and especially Deputy Knox for patrolling Palos Verdes Drive East (PVDE). He referred to the Commission’s intention to perform a test on the PVDE area at the top of the racecourse from Crest Road to PVDS, and it is his understanding that the test was unsuccessful. He reported that the lane narrowing and channeling was removed. He requested that the Commission step forward and try something else. He distributed four pictures to the Commissioners, one showing an accident on PVDE involving a Marymount College student and others involving motorcycles. Mr. Whited emphasized that something must be done, and he proposed that a single north and south stop sign be installed to force drivers to decelerate from between 60 mph to 100 mph to at least close to zero, referring to a California stop, before they accelerate again. He repeated that he is requesting that a single stop sign be installed at cross streets to see if it slows drivers down.
Chair Shepherd acknowledged the presence of Councilman Gardiner.
Councilman Peter Gardiner clarified that he is speaking for himself and not the Council. He explained that he attended to personally apologize to the Commission for any confusion during the run-up to the last City Council meeting. He explained that it came to his attention that there were some rifts and changes in the air and that the Commission would not have support from Traffic Engineer Rydell and would not have a Minute Taker and they would have to take their own Minutes. He stated that, if the Council meeting is viewed, the Council made very clear that they did not think much of those ideas nor does he. He stated that he wants the Commission to know personally that he does not think that is the appropriate way to support the Commission, adding that they are all volunteers and he expressed appreciation for every Commissioner’s efforts. Councilman Gardiner explained that he can imagine what it is like to be on the Traffic Safety Commission (TSC), and he knows what it is like to be on the Council. They put in a lot of time that no one knows about and he wants the Commission to know that he appreciates that as do, he is sure, the other Council members. Councilman Gardiner explained that as he listened to the other Council members speak it occurred to him that they tend to support the Traffic Safety Commission, as is certainly his intention. He stated that he wants to make sure that the Commission has adequate resources, and that is why he is here tonight, to make sure the Commission has adequate resources and he will come in from time to time.
Secondly, Councilman Gardiner thanked Traffic Engineer Rydell for obtaining $250,000 or more in grants for the City and it is not the first time. Finally, Councilman expressed his view of the Commission’s role and emphasized that he is speaking for himself, saying that there is no requirement whatsoever that the Commission agree with anyone except themselves, and they can even disagree amongst themselves; the Commission does not have to send the Council recommendations that are unanimous. The Commission can present split opinions and if they think there are different ways to proceed, tell the Council all the pros and cons. In his view, the Commission is in the trenches for the Council. He stated that there is no requirement that the Commission must agree with Staff or that Staff agree with the Commission, and there is no requirement that the Council will agree with the Commission. He explained that what the Council is looking for is the best thinking they can get on any particular topic, and the Council will give the Commission some things they would like the Commission to wrestle with, and as he understands the TSC Charter, the Commission can find things they want to wrestle with. He explained that just because Staff has not brought it up does not mean the Commission cannot; and if Staff brings up something that the Commission is not interested in particularly, he thinks it is fair to say that. Councilman Gardiner stated that he will not personally recommend that Council look at anything that comes to them in the area of traffic safety without the TSC review and comments because that is what they are here for in his view.
On the issue of communication with the Council, Councilman Gardiner explained that he was completely in the dark until the run-up to the meeting and then he got a whiff that there were some rumblings going on. As far as he is concerned, the Commissioners are residents of the City number one, and they are the Council’s eyes and ears in the area of traffic. If there is something that does not sound quite right to them or something is bothering them, like any other resident, they can come and talk to anyone on the Council they want, and in their official capacity they can talk to any member of the Council. He explained that there is no such thing as that they cannot talk, and he believes it is entirely appropriate that if there is something on their mind, they can say it. Councilman Gardiner stated that in his view the Commission should be supported, encouraged, thanked, and if there is something on their mind, they should speak freely.
Tom Redfield, 31273 Ganado Drive, explained that he has a coalition of people Citywide who are involved in good government and has spent the past eight years working very intensively on research and recruiting for the Committee, now the Commission. Mr. Redfield explained that during the eight years they have had many blips aligning Staff and the City Council and commented on some of the problems. He reported that Councilman/Dr. Gardiner initiated the idea of a Traffic Safety Commission with more authority, to be treated with more respect, and the Commission was directed by the Council to be proactive. Mr. Redfield spoke highly of Traffic Engineer Rydell and Director Jim Bell, and reported that the Director and Chair Shepherd have had a series of meetings to discuss their vision. He commented that it took two years to obtain two additional traffic Deputies, one dedicated and one shared, and mentioned the value of the ride-along program. Mr. Redfield explained that the coalition tries to bring all this together and asked the Commission to let him know if they can help.
Lois Karp, 31115 Ganado Drive, reported that she is present on behalf of the Mediterranea Homeowners Association regarding the intersection of PVDE and Ganado. She thanked Traffic Engineer Rydell for the temporary modifications to the intersection but it is not working and was not the solution the community wanted. She explained that many arrows have been blacked out, the lines to move over are no longer there, and the intersection is less than what the community had before it was started. She requested that the Commission keep working on it to find another solution for this very dangerous intersection, saying that she does not want someone to die. Ms. Karp reported that the right-turn pocket was not lengthened and, because the arrows are missing, drivers coming down the hill too fast can go through the right lane and drivers exiting Ganado will pull out because they think drivers coming downhill are turning right. She stated that if another temporary test is necessary the residents are not against that, but asked that the Commission not leave it the way it is, which is nothing.
Chair Shepherd explained that this could not be discussed because it is not on the agenda, but she thought the right-turn pocket would be extended and the Commission voted on it, and that the arrows would place everything back to the way it was except for extending the right-turn pocket. She asked why the right-turn pocket was not extended, and what happened to the arrows.
Senior Engineer Motahari responded that it is extended and the arrows are there.
Ms. Karp stated that they are gone and the pocket looks like it is back the way it was.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated he would investigate because the primary concern was to extend the pocket.
Chair Shepherd asked that Staff investigate because the Commission approved both recommendations.
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT REPORT:
Sgt. Creason reported that he and Deputy Despot rode dirt bikes today on Crenshaw and around the schools, keeping the skateboarders out. Then they encountered the fire at PVDE and Rockinghorse where a house was fully engulfed. He reported that PVDE has been blocked off for hours, causing him to be late, and he does not have a quarterly report as a result. He stated that a breaking news notice is posted on the Internet. Sgt. Creason also reported that an 89-year-old woman pulled out of the Library parking lot, went over the side into the ditch, and was there for approximately 24 hours before the Sheriff was notified.
Commissioner Parfenov stated that he sees Deputy Knox more often on Crenshaw and asked if there is speeding or something going on between Crest Road and PVDE.
Deputy Knox responded that he does not see more speeding on Crenshaw, but there is more speeding on Crest Road between Highridge and Crenshaw and drivers are sometimes pulled over on Crenshaw.OLD BUSINESS:
Chair Shepherd noted a late communication from Commissioner Bilezerian that will be considered in conjunction with the appropriate pages.
a. Action Items Matrix
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that getting the data is not a big deal and it determines if traffic-calming thresholds are satisfied; then Staff recommends preliminary actions, prioritizes, and identifies two or three acceptable engineering actions and this would not even come into play unless it met the minimum thresholds. He suggested that coming up with the data the City can do because that is the smaller component of the study. He explained that the other issues are time consuming because he is dealing with the public and doing much of the analysis that way. He suggested that the Commission might specify that the City will do $2,000 worth of counts for example if it is warranted, and from that point on at least the community knows that they have options and they have to pay for it.
Commissioner Wells stated that he would be in favor of the residents paying for that because it shows a level of involvement and seriousness on their part and they have not invested much money.
Senior Engineer Motahari reported that per instructions from the Council they will put on the agenda a discussion and review of the work program, and they instructed Staff to bring it to the Commission for their review and discussion. He explained that many scopes of work are mandated and are inevitable whether anyone likes them or not.
4. Traffic Calming Engineering Study
Commissioner Bilezerian referred to page six, Section 4, traffic volume counts, and clarified that this involves a tube counter on residential streets, and asked how speed measurements are accomplished.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that they use radar or tubes.
Commissioner Bilezerian asked if the equipment is rented from the Sheriff’s Department on a monthly basis.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that he owns the equipment and the City pays him to perform the study. He reported that for the Via Rivera data collection and brief analysis he estimates a maximum of $1,500, and at that point it is known if the area meets the minimum thresholds.
Chair Shepherd used an example of the area between Via Rivera, between Rue De La Pierre and Rue Valois with 40 houses. She suggested that if the area is under 50 houses the cost is $1,500; between 50 and 100 would cost $2,000, and how do they know it will be the same for everyone and make it fair without guidelines.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that, from past experience, they could use a range, neighborhood, and size, with the support of the number of residents.
Chair Shepherd suggested a table be included.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that once the NTCP becomes part of the approval process, traffic calming will be a huge headline issue in the City, and he believes everyone will want this, and if they make everyone think twice about the cost it may make a difference.
Commissioner Wells commented that Traffic Engineer Rydell estimated the $1,500 portion, and if the City has control of it, RPV can say the community has a problem and from now on, the residents must pay. He feels that the City should fund the initial study for only that person.
Commissioner Bilezerian expressed disagreement with that.
Chair Shepherd referred to the point system for the level two, and asked Traffic Engineer Rydell if the data from the engineering study will allow him to make a determination.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that, yes if he does the full study.
Commissioner Parfenov expressed support for having the community pay for the study, but asked what happens when dealing with a community composed of people on social security pensions. He suggested that for them to even do the initial study would create a financial problem.
Commissioner Bilezerian responded that he understands and it was just a comment, and mentioned the community support percentages.
Chair Shepherd suggested adding that item as an option for the residents to pay for the engineering study.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that if they pay for it and get nothing, is that politically doable.
Commissioner Wells asked if Traffic Engineer Rydell and others already know enough about RPV that when a group requests traffic calming they can give an opinion.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that if he could do that they would not have to put the tubes out.
Chair Shepherd referred to the two-part with either paying for the full engineering study or paying for part one or part two, and they can talk about that later.
Commissioner Willens pointed out that if that is the case, they are eliminating Section 3, and moving directly to Section 4 because if the residents are paying for it then there is no petition.
Chair Shepherd suggested that the petition states whether a majority of the residents perceive a problem.
Commissioner Willens responded that if they want to pay for a traffic study it does not matter.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that the City would need a petition before they did any construction. He explained that he is hearing that Section 3 remains the same where the residents do a petition and the City does the study; Section 2 states that residents pay for half of the study to determine if the community qualifies, and he asked who pays for the second half of the study.
Commissioner Wells explained that if they do half and half, the City pays for the first half; after they have 67%, the residents pay for anything after the analysis.
Commissioner Willens said the problem is that if the City is paying for something it still must be approved, and potentially the money will not be available. He questioned if that means the residents are obligated to pay for the City’s half of the study, or does it still have to go to City Council to have the money authorized.
Chair Shepherd stated that it would not go back to City Council unless it is an appeal process.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that if Staff cannot get a budget it would go out the window.
Commissioner Bilezerian asked if the ‘07/’08 budget is adopted.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that it is a two-year budget.
Commissioner Bilezerian clarified that the budget is approved from 7/1/07 through 6/30/09.
Senior Engineer Motahari stated that it would be reviewed the second year.
Commissioner Bilezerian asked if there is any money in the ’07 to ’09 budget for traffic calming, and the response was no.
Commissioner Willens suggested that the Commission is spinning their wheels if they say the City would pay for something and they know it is not going to happen, and asked why they want to waste their time putting that in the program.
Chair Shepherd agreed with Commissioner Willens, but suggested that it be included and there may be an amendment to the budget if the Council agrees to allocate initial resources to the Commission. She agreed with Commissioner Bilezerian to eliminate Section 3 now.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that the Committee add a footnote to this section saying something to the effect that the requirement for the residents to fully fund their engineering study is because the current fiscal year budget for traffic calming is zero dollars. Should future funding become available, the Traffic Safety Commission would have the ability to supplement the funding.
Traffic Engineer Rydell asked if that means that the residents will pay for everything because that is where the Commission is heading.
Chair Shepherd explained that in almost every paragraph there is a statement that funding is pending on budget availability.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that there are references throughout the document that say that portions of funding will come through the City, and he suggested that he revise the entire document to say what Commissioner Bilezerian suggested above.
Commissioner Bilezerian stated that it already pertains to every section that included funding level one and level two.
Senior Engineer Motahari commented that the agenda he mentioned previously is about this; that one of the items leaves it up to the Commission to prioritize and give scope to the traffic budget because the Department will present an amendment, and the Commission may want to include traffic calming.
5. Traffic Safety Commission Review of Traffic Calming Engineering Study
Commissioner Bilezerian referred to Section 5 and suggested that if the Commission decides to have the residents fully fund this program, they would not have to prioritize as stated in paragraph 2 and that paragraph would need revision to state that the residents are responsible for fully funding the project, but approval would still be required.
Chair Shepherd suggested that they would still need prioritization, not necessarily for funding but for the actual process.
Commissioner Bilezerian clarified that the funding is completed; the project comes before the Traffic Safety Commission for approval; if approved, depending upon the recommendations contained in the study, they now prioritize level one against level two.
Commissioner Willens stated that it is an action rather than a funding prioritization issue, and suggested revising the paragraph so it does not reference funding but does reference actionable issues.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that the residents will pay for everything and he is not sure prioritization is necessary if residents are paying for it. He commented that Staff could have several traffic calming projects in progress simultaneously.
Chair Shepherd disagreed because it does not matter where the money is coming from; there still must be a point system to identify whether it requires addressing the project first, second, or third; otherwise there is no organized way to implement the tools or construction throughout the City. She suggested that Staff must have a schedule and some way to put one community first whether they are paying for it or not.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that Staff does more than one capital project at one time.
Chair Shepherd stated that she knows they can. But she suggested that prioritization is talking about qualifying for traffic calming taking into consideration speed, volume, traffic, school proximity, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, etc. She stated that if the community does not have any of these that are issues, then the Commission must determine why they would put construction in their neighborhood if it does not qualify for a livability issue in the first place.
Traffic Engineer Rydell suggested that that is approval rather than prioritization.
Commissioner Wells asked why; explaining that the residents pay for a traffic study, Traffic Engineer Rydell says they need traffic calming, here are the options he believes are needed that the residents will pay for, they pay for it, and where does the Commission come in.
Commissioner Willens reiterated that someone who can pay for the study and qualifies and is willing to pay for whatever the study recommends should be able to just do it, and why should the Commission be able to say yes or no, although he is not saying that the Commission should not have the right to say yes or no.
Commissioner Bilezerian explained why the Commission is involved, saying that the Commission is obligated to conduct a public hearing for both the people who oppose and those who support the project. If the City prepares a study that states what could be done and the study is presumed to be 100% correct, and there is no decision-making on the Commission’s part, the ability of people to be heard is being taken away, and he does not think they should do that.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that he has an obligation to ensure that the traffic calming devices placed on public roadways are acceptable to this Commission.
Commissioner Willens stated that he is just playing devil’s advocate and he agrees with the comments and thinks it is appropriate for the Commission to make those decisions, but he cautioned about how this is presented to the community as a plan so that they understand that is the way it will be and why. Commissioner Willens gave an example of building a 20,000 square foot house on his lot that blocks the view of 100 other people and if he is willing to pay for it why should he not be able to do it, and the responses referred to the Code.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that the study gives a couple of options and once the residents decide, Staff does not care, and it will come back to the Commission as an informational item. He pointed out that the Commission must review the study.
Chair Shepherd stated that just because the residents pay for it, the City will pay Staff time to approve the installation, and the residents will not be giving instructions to the installers. She emphasized that the guidelines must remain in the document no matter who pays for the project.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that specific design, location, and costs are in the study, and that is why that part of the study costs more because Staff is dealing with the community and talking to people, locating specific design parameters and the residents do not change that.
Senior Engineer Motahari referred to the Planning Commission and the Code is the instrument there, and if the Commission wants to deny something that the report recommended, what would they refer to based on which guidelines to deny the project.
Chair Shepherd stated that the NTCP would be their Code document.
Senior Engineer Motahari questioned that if the study recommends speed humps and the Commission wants to deny it, what would be the basis for the decision.
Chair Shepherd responded that she does not believe the Commission could deny it, unless the speed humps are taken out of this document. She clarified that speed humps are not in this document because the City has decided that speed humps are not installed in this City like the City of Torrance, and the Traffic Engineer will not find that as an appropriate tool anyway, but if it is still in there the Commission would have to approve it.
Traffic Engineer Rydell said, for example, that if he recommended chokers, chicanes, and medians and the Commission did not like that or think it was appropriate, they can modify his report.
Commissioner Kramer asked at what point the public hearing occurs.
Chair Shepherd responded that it is held when the report is presented to the Commission for review.
Commissioner Wells suggested that when discussion is open to the public some resident might raise an issue that no one has thought about and this whole thing needs to go away.
Traffic Engineer Rydell anticipated that someone might think that a particular tool does not work, and that may sway the Commission to change one of his recommendations.
Commissioner Bilezerian clarified that until that point the Commission has no way of knowing who objects to the project.
Commissioner Willens explained that that is why a public hearing is necessary.
Traffic Engineer Rydell referred back to the issue of prioritization.
Chair Shepherd commented that she brought up prioritization and the point system and she believes these are valid and valuable to identify some types of guidelines. She stated that this was included not just for funding reasons.
Commissioner Bilezerian commented that if the City is paying for some or all of level one or level two funding, the Commission, when they approve the study and level of improvements, must prioritize that against something they have done in the past. If there is nothing to compare it with it goes to step one. He does not believe that Public Works will start the design on levels one and two; they may want to determine how they can accomplish doing one or more neighborhoods at one time. Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that the first study could identify measures that consume the entire budget, there would be no reason to prioritize anyone else, and additional requests could be denied for lack of funds.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that there is a good reason not to do the studies, because traffic conditions might change if traffic calming cannot be considered for another year.
Commissioner Bilezerian explained that if funds were not available to implement anything, why would they consider money on the studies; if the residents pay for it, the Commission could approve five or ten together and do construction and implementation.
Commissioner Willens stated that he thought the Commission was discussing paragraph two of Section 5.
Commissioner Bilezerian explained that that section is only applicable if the City is paying for part of it; that in this draft should it be level two instead of level one improvements because level one is referred to later and states that the City will pay for level one. He suggested that it should be tweaked based on the last paragraph of Section 5, where if there is funding in the budget for construction of these devices, the Traffic Safety Commission’s duty would be to prioritize this against any subsequent traffic calming requests.
Traffic Engineer Rydell suggested that the Commission not prioritize the requests, but if there is more than one viable project Public Works should try to group them; that it is not prioritization, but is contract administration which would not prioritize one against another but is grouping them.
Commissioner Wells referred to the first paragraph on page 13, “A minimum total score of 51 points is required …”, and commented that the neighborhood with the higher score gets the priority, especially if the residents are paying for the whole project.
Chair Shepherd stated that she does not understand why it matters who pays for it, and the Commission should still prioritize the projects based on this provision.
Commissioner Willens suggested that if ten communities satisfy the criteria and pay for the project there is no prioritization needed.
Chair Shepherd stated there still should be some qualification criteria for the City to allow implementation of construction devices in a neighborhood, and asked if they will put structures in place without any guidelines at all.
Commissioner Willens referred to Section 5 and suggested why not leave in the first sentence of paragraph 2, “The Traffic Safety Commission will consider Staff’s prioritization of the request…”
Traffic Engineer Rydell said because there is no need to prioritize.
Commissioner Bilezerian commented that the purpose of the second paragraph of Section 5 is to say that the Commission’s duty is prioritizing what they just approved against what they previously approved for other neighborhoods or will approve in the future for other neighborhoods based on available funding for construction.
Traffic Engineer Rydell commented that he views this the same as signal prioritization, which is for funding, but if Long Point decides to build it himself, go ahead and do it. He stated that approval comes after the study is complete; he is only doing one study at a time, and it is typically first come first served, and the program states that the Commission will review a maximum of one a month.
Commissioner Willens suggested that this does not satisfy the Chair’s concerns.
Chair Shepherd stated that a scenario be prepared for four communities who all understand the guidelines and will pay for the engineering study. She gave an example; the residents pay, the study is completed and all four qualify for traffic calming, possibly a choker, an island, and a business. Because the person paid for it, is Traffic Engineer Rydell saying that the Commission does not have to put them on a priority list; but questioned if they actually meet the thresholds that are listed in the program to actually install something.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that it is part of the study and the Commission would not approve the study if it did not meet the minimum thresholds.
Chair Shepherd expressed confusion regarding whether the point system was discarded, and emphasized that it is necessary. She explained that if the point system is not needed for funding it is not necessarily discarded.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained why he said it was not necessary; that there are minimum thresholds and the project either meets them or not, and if not, he would not recommend the project to the Commission. He explained that the point basis was originally there to compete for funding and they do not need the point system except to use for the type of traffic control, but not for prioritization.
Commissioner Wells referred to Section 5, paragraph 2, clarified that the discussion must continue regarding level one and level two, and asked if that paragraph should be discarded.
Commissioner Willens asked if Paragraph 2 should be removed.
Chair Shepherd stated that she is still not comfortable with it, but it is ok because they are just brainstorming.
Commissioner Wells clarified that Section 5 is about prioritizing funding, and what he thinks he and Chair Shepherd are talking about is prioritizing of actions, and that comes later.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that what Chair Shepherd is talking about is what happens to a neighborhood with a score of 56 versus 85.
Chair Shepherd stated that without the point system they do not have that as a base.
Commissioner Bilezerian explained that the points would stay in effect to determine that the minimum requirements are met and whether the residents need level one or two to help Traffic Engineer Rydell identify what to recommend. He clarified that the point system will not go away, but prioritizing for funding will go away.
6 Traffic Calming
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that the first sentence remains the same; the second sentence must be rewritten and should read, “Depending upon the type of traffic calming request further action may will require citizen funding.”
The Commissioners concurred that the rest of Section 6 should remain the same.
Commissioner Willens clarified that Sections 7 through 10 should remain the same; he pointed out that there are two sections regarding Traffic Calming Tools and suggested putting them together at the beginning; he observed that there were no comments regarding the tools on pages 15 through 39.
Commissioner Bilezerian pointed out that the item on page 11 entitled “DETERMINE ELIGIBILITY FOR TRAFFIC CALMING” should not be capitalized because it is strictly for level two and is a subsection of Section 6, “Traffic Calming”.
Commissioner Willens asked if anything requires discussion related to specific tools.
Commissioner Kramer referred to page 10 under Traffic Calming Tools – Overview, Level 1. He explained that he knows the Sheriff cannot issue a citation, but asked if the stationary radar can capture a license plate and allow the Sheriff to send a letter to the person saying that this car was speeding at this time, and asked if that is legal.
Sgt. Creason responded that the Sheriff does that occasionally when they get direction from the City.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that there is a Neighborhood Speed Watch Program and the resident uses a radar gun, but from the feedback he received, people are scared to do it.
Commissioner Kramer said he was thinking of trailers that come equipped with cameras, and would do that automatically so the driver does not know the person taking the picture.
Sgt. Creason explained that the letters he is talking about would come from neighborhoods that report constant speeders. It will go through the Public Works Department, then it is sent to him, and he obtains a form letter from the Captain that is sent to the registered owner.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that Staff considered buying an old photo radar device and using it as San Jose and other cities have done.
Chair Shepherd reported that the Technology Committee would explore those possibilities.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported that currently Staff cannot use photo radar enforcement, but this is photo radar education.
Chair Shepherd reported that Pacific Palisades has photo enforcement.
Commissioner Parfenov reported that the Technology Committee has created a draft final report and they have reported on what is being discussed with technical specifications citywide, and he offered to provide copies. He commented that LAPD uses a car with a camera mounted on top and there is a program to identify license plates of the cars, which are fed to a central database. As soon as they determine if the vehicle is stolen or red tagged, an alert is sent to the driver and to a Police Officer who can check out the car.
Commissioner Willens retracted his prior statement that pages 10 and 11 are superfluous; he thinks it is a good overview because when the Commission considers the overview to determine eligibility for traffic calming, which only applies to level two, The overview provides a definition of levels one and two. He commented that the Traffic Calming Tools section of about 12 pages looks good as is unless anyone has comments not already considered. He stated that all that is left is the level two eligibility issue, prioritization, and funding process, and in light of what was decided, the issue becomes how do they rewrite this section to explain to the community that they would pay for everything.
Chair Shepherd suggested letting the Committee do that so the Commission does not have to discuss it.
Commissioner Willens suggested that this is the perfect place to explain to the community that that is the case and why, but the Commission does not need to talk about that because they have already agreed that it is up to the community to pay for it. He suggested that the only items left are eligibility for traffic calming levels and prioritization, which is pages 11, 12, and 13.
Commissioner Kramer had a general question about funding and referred to the idea that the initial engineering studies would be funded by whatever number of people participate. If they get to implementation, it is his understanding that they would have to assess the cost to all homeowners in the area, and that is not optional.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that to install in level two, the residents would have to go through the petition process and get up to 75% of the fronting property owners to agree to it, and he assumes that those people would pay for it.
Commissioner Kramer suggested that the remaining 25% who opt out would not have to pay.
Commissioner Bilezerian commented that if they opt out they do not support it.
Chair Shepherd questioned that when the City deals with underground utilities and things like that it must have the support of 2/3 of the residents.
Commissioner Kramer commented that he thought that when underground utilities were involved everyone is assessed.
Chair Shepherd confirmed that it takes 2/3 to accomplish and everyone has to pay.
Commissioner Kramer said he wondered if this is the same type of situation, and they do not need a ballot measure.
Commissioner Bilezerian mentioned Proposition 213, and said that the City does not need a ballot measure.
Chair Shepherd referred to another area for a revenue stream, and stated that she would meet with Staff and explore whether Public Works could tap into the beautification grant. She suggested that many of the proposed tools such as the center island could be an element used to beautify the neighborhood and improve it aesthetically as well as calming traffic. She stated that the Committee talked about using a percentage of the recycling dollars that the City uses for irrigation improvement, landscape improvement, and other such projects; and this would depend on the calming tool selected. Chair Shepherd suggested that the TSC could tap into that as partial payment, and explained that the beautification grant program allows for $3,000, with another $1,500 if the HOA matches the $1,500 and then it goes up to $4,500. She explained that is the grant criteria but it does not need to be the Commission’s; for example, Public Works gets $25,000 for the program for interest treatments or center islands. She stated that the Commission could present that to Council if the Commission agrees and ask them to set policy that Public Works could receive some of that money.
Commissioner Parfenov asked Traffic Engineer Rydell if the grant money goes to the projects, to the overall overhead of traffic calming, or for general improvements.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that it is used for projects. He referred Commissioner Parfenov’s comments on the bottom of page 10 “Additions to Level 1 calming toolbox: Painted lines…” and stated that it is explained in Level 2 as roadway narrowing; that he did not put it in Level 1 because some people find it unaesthetic and he would want support from the community. Regarding a speed hump embedded in a crosswalk, referred to on page 11, he explained it is a raised crosswalk that is a speed table at the intersection.
Commissioner Parfenov commented that studies show that it could be quite effective, especially around schools, because any raised concrete causes drivers to slow down, making it safer for pedestrians.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that he is currently recommending two of these speed tables, and it is categorized as a speed hump along with any kind of vertical deflection. He explained that a raised crosswalk is a speed table and is ten foot flat across the top, which is the width of a crosswalk, and two six-foot swells on either side.
Commissioner Parfenov clarified that that is an example if the community wants it installed and asked if would they have to pay for it.
Traffic Engineer Rydell confirmed that they would have to pay for it.
Commissioner Bilezerian stated that when something like that is installed it could not conflict with ADA guidelines; he explained that gutters and catch basins at corners might prevent installation.
Commissioner Willens referred to page 10 under Level 1; he questioned the accuracy of “These mitigations do not require a second petition…” and asked if it is still true, and asked if the residents will pay for this.
Chair Shepherd stated that this is correct as written.
Commissioner Willens referred to Level 2 on page 11 “During this period city staff will evaluate…” and suggested that “as budget allows” must be changed to “at the community’s expense” with a footnote as discussed earlier.
Traffic Engineer Rydell asked if the Commission is still in agreement, that certain of these devices should be installed temporarily, and who is paying for that; for example, he mentioned traffic circles that might be delineated, curved, or just be installed permanently.
Commissioner Willens said that if the residents pay for it, does the Commission want to give them the option of doing it on a trial basis.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that with chokers and chicanes in Del Mar they adjusted the design a couple of times.
Commissioner Willens stated that if he was paying for it he would want a temporary installation before becoming permanent, even if it cost more to change it a couple of times, and suggested that it should not be mandatory and should include options as part of the program.
Traffic Engineer Rydell said he would rather see a temporary installation because he has installed devices and it did not work out as hoped.
Commissioner Willens confirmed that the modifications to Level 2 on page 11 of the NTCP draft are to either remove “as budget allows” or include “at the community’s expense”. He suggested moving on to eligibility on pages 11, 12, and 13.
DETERMINE ELIGIBILITY FOR TRAFFIC CALMING (Note: Subsection of Traffic Calming)
Commissioner Wells expressed concern that schools all have traffic patterns around them, and he would be opposed to a traffic calming implementation that interferes with this.
Chair Shepherd stated that she spoke to the Captain at the Fire Department regarding the primary response routes for emergency response and all similar issues are taken into consideration but the Committee does not yet have it in writing from the Fire Department.
Chair Shepherd stated that “Due to limited funding…” in the first sentence of paragraph 1 would be removed.
Commissioner Willens referred to ranking and questioned that if the community meets all the criteria and have the money why do they need to be ranked; that ten projects can be done simultaneously if they have the money.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that they are not being ranked; that the Commission is just determining whether they go to Level 2.
Senior Engineer Motahari explained that Staff cost is always there; he referred to page 23 under Radar Feedback Signs, the document states that the City would provide that, and unless the Commission goes to every item and puts the cost on the community, there is a cost to the City involved.
Commissioner Willens pointed out that in Level 1 the City is paying for everything.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that Level 1 includes truck restrictions and speed limit signs. He pointed out that the first paragraph of Section 2 is to determine if the project qualifies for Level 2.
Commissioner Willens asked what if the project qualifies for Level 2 and what alternative measures would they qualify for if different levels are offered. He suggested removing the word “prioritization” from the header; remove “Due to limited funding” and possibly the first sentence.
Commissioner Kramer asked if the City has gone through a couple of test cases like Via Rivera to see where it would be placed on the point system.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that he ran through the numbers and it was 70 or 80 points, and he can do that if needed.
Commissioner Wells commented that the minimum total score of 51 points is somewhat arbitrary as is the entire ranking system, and how do they know that some trivial thing reaches 60% and everyone passes. He suggested some tweaking of this in the future. He asked if Staff scored Basswood like this.
Traffic Engineer Rydell said yes, and stated that La Mesa does prioritize because they pay for it.
Commissioner Willens proposed keeping the first two sentences in the first paragraph following the table on page 13 “A minimum total score of 51 points…” and that is all unless the Commission wants to discuss different point levels allowing for alternatives.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that those two sentences would apply if City funding were available as an option.
Traffic Engineer Rydell suggested that they might want to keep the 51 points in the document to protect against a proliferation of vertical devices.
Commissioner Willens stated that the first two sentences would stay no matter what; that it would be the remaining sentences about ranking that Commissioner Bilezerian is saying would be necessary if there was City funding provided, and suggested adding the footnote.
Commissioner Bilezerian stated that he believes that only grant funds should be used for Level 2, and if not available, the residents should pay for the project, and he does not believe the City will find grant funds for chicanes on a residential street.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that SY2S does allow for traffic calming, but if he is writing a grant for a specific street, the residents should be paying his time to write the grant.
Commissioner Willens suggested removing the ranking part. He explained that they are working on the assumption that, wherever the Committee decides to put the footnotes throughout the document because of the funding, the community would pay for the project.
Chair Shepherd asked when this goes before Council with all funding coming from the residents, and the Council says that will not work for them, how does the Commission feel about having the elements that were removed still included if the Council wants to put funding back in.
Commissioner Bilezerian stated that the Commission must ask the Council if there would be an approved budget every fiscal year to provide funding.
Chair Shepherd suggested that if the Council approved $50,000 for traffic calming, would the Commission put back most of the elements that are now being removed, and asked if the Commissioners are happy with most of what is in the document if funding was available.
Commissioner Kramer recommended that the Commission would still request the residents to fund Phase 1-A and the City, if there is a budget, would pay for the construction.
Chair Shepherd stated that she is asking so that the Committee can include those alternatives.
Traffic Engineer Rydell asked if the Commission wants to stick with the financial disincentive for vertical deflections by making the community pay for the whole thing.
The responses were affirmative.
Commissioner Bilezerian clarified that he is not just talking about construction, but it is a line effort to bid a project and award a project; he knows Staff time is involved, but the funding that comes from the residents would offset the City’s budget.
Traffic Engineer Rydell asked if there is funding, what does the City pay for.
Commissioner Kramer referred to the first part of the Phase 1-B Study.
Traffic Engineer Rydell asked if he is referring to gathering the data and taking the counts.
Commissioner Kramer responded no; that part is done by the residents, and after that, if the City has funding it pays for the entire comprehensive study. He explained that there is more than one study; there is up to the analysis, and there is the engineering after the analysis, and that is the part he thinks the residents should pay for.
Traffic Engineer Rydell agreed and clarified that if the project qualifies he will then design the project and prepare alternatives.
Chair Shepherd asked what else Traffic Engineer Rydell does when he investigates the location, considering that they are discussing splitting this into two parts.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that Staff could do the counts just to see if it will meet any minimum thresholds.
Chair Shepherd questioned if he is suggesting that the residents pay for the initial count and alternatives, and the City would pay for anything after that.
Commissioner Wells suggested that for responsibility and authorization purposes, the City should pay Traffic Engineer Rydell for taking the counts to determine whether there is a problem. If there is no problem, the City does not charge the residents or provide more funding, and there is no traffic calming. If there is a problem, the residents should pay for the project from that point on.
Commissioner Willens asked, for the benefit of the City Council, if the Commission wants to include the alternatives in the document for them to think about in the event it is not politically palatable for them to be approving a traffic-calming plan that requires the community to pay for everything regardless of budget considerations, with the footnote as necessary.
Chair Shepherd stated that she said they could do that, but in the alternatives the question becomes if the City has money, what part are they saying that the residents should contribute; is it at the engineering study phase, the Level 2 phase, so that the Commission understands. She asked if that is still ok, or are the Commissioners saying that they want the residents to pay for the engineering and nothing else as an alternative if the City has funding for Level 2. She asked for feedback from the Commissioners regarding what they think of presenting an alternative to the Council.
Commissioner Willens suggested why not just give the Council the option to allocate however they choose.
Chair Shepherd responded because she would like the Council to have a number of alternatives to start with rather than starting from zero, and they are asking the Commission to do that.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that when they get to Level 2, measures that must be implemented do not need Council authorization to start installation, and asked if that is correct.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that if there is a budget that is correct, and that is the way it is written.
Commissioner Bilezerian clarified that if there is no money involved for the City, currently there is no reason for the City to approve the installation of Level 2.
Chair Shepherd confirmed that is correct.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested that if there is money, the Commission is looking for a way for the City to prioritize how that money is spent if there is more than one neighborhood, and asked if that is correct and if that is what is being asked.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that he believes the Commissioners are asking what part of the process is paid for by the City.
Chair Shepherd explained that when the Committee first presented the document to the Commission they were proceeding under the assumption that there would be funding available, and therefore their suggestions as a Committee were to have the residents pay at Level 2 and the City pay for everything else. The Committee did realize that the City does not have an amended budget and does not have money. She suggested that if the Commission goes forward with the primary document’s first phase that states the residents pay for everything, she is asking for an alternative to send to the Council. If they want something different and would budget for it, the Commission could show them how they will work this program if the Council gives them the money. Chair Shepherd asked if the Commissioners are ok going back to the original document as that alternative, or is there something else they want to tweak if they know that funding is available.
Commissioner Bilezerian stated that if funding is available they have the option to pay for some or all of the study, Level 1 or Level 2.
Chair Shepherd clarified that he is referring back to the original document as the alternative.
Commissioner Bilezerian suggested adding the footnote regarding authority to prioritize based on the amount of available funding.
Commissioner Willens stated that the other issue is whether they want some greater differentiation of what tool is to be used at what point levels, and asked if they want to do that.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that he would like to keep it the way it is because it gives him the flexibility to recommend what he thinks is appropriate and this Commission to approve or modify.
Commissioner Kramer agreed.
Commissioner Wells explained that he came up with the idea of the point system with thresholds was because of the discussion that neighborhoods love speed humps. He commented that some Commissioners and other residents do not like the idea of speed humps, so he created a number system to allow the Commission the ability to have thresholds.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that he likes the flexibility and he thinks that unless there is an engineering reason, he would probably add vertical deflection as an option; however, they discussed in the Committee that their version of a speed hump is nothing like what they have seen in this City. He explained that it would be lower; it would have either an island or chokers on the sides and a horizontal deflection with landscaping, it would cost more, and that is also why the Committee likes the idea of making them pay for that. If the community wanted speed humps it would not be as controversial as what they have, it would be more aesthetically pleasing, and they would pay for it.
Commissioner Wells wanted the community to be able to come to the Commission, explain the impact, and find out whether they even have the opportunity to ask for speed humps, because they would ask for speed humps from day one.
Traffic Engineer Rydell commented that it would cost the community a lot of money and would probably induce them to go with something else; that even if they are paying for it they might have to consider other financial options.
Commissioner Wells explained that with the point system, with Level 2 if the community does not score enough points they do not even come to the Commission for speed humps; or if they score high enough, Traffic Engineer Rydell might offer that, or if they score over 80 it would be part of it. He believes there is great resistance to speed humps if they do not appear in Torrance.
Traffic Engineer Rydell reported that in the Committee’s first cut there were no vertical deflections, and it was added because they thought it was more appropriate to retain a vertical deflection and change the design so that fewer people are offended by it.
Chair Shepherd explained that the Committee’s rationale was that whenever it comes before them or the Council, there are so many issues related to the humps that prolong the installation that a decision could never be made. She stated that because it is so controversial, if the Commission could still provide a level of traffic calming and give the residents some kind of action but give both the Commission and Council some thresholds and a disincentive, it would provide options.
Commissioner Wells asked if the Commission still wants the option of granting or allowing the community to consider speed humps if they score 52.
Traffic Engineer Rydell stated that he does not have a problem with that.
Chair Shepherd suggested that if this Commission wants to remove speed humps from this document as Torrance did, they do not have to send speed humps to the City Council as an option. She explained that the only reason the Committee included them was for Commission discussion, and no one was for or against. She explained that the Commission can explain why speed humps are not included if the Council asks, and it is up to them to request that they be included.
Commissioner Willens commented that having speed humps as an action does not tie the Commission’s hands; it gives them and Traffic Engineer Rydell an extra option, and if Traffic Engineer Rydell recommends it, the Commission would still review the study and decide what is appropriate. He suggested that Traffic Engineer Rydell would not recommend speed humps unless it is crucial because there are too many other alternatives, so he would not remove it.
Traffic Engineer Rydell commented that it is stated in the NTCP that anything installed such as chokers, chicanes, or other devices must be landscaped and the residents would be required to enter into a maintenance agreement with the City.
Commissioner Kramer asked what about paving the road.
Commissioner Willens asked if there is a consensus to incorporate Commissioner Bilezerian’s suggestion to coordinate with the slurry seal and repaving issues.
Commissioner Kramer commented that is in the near future, but what about in the far future.
Traffic Engineer Rydell referred to Commissioner Bilezerian’s comment in Section I of his e-mail and clarified that he is saying the Commission would not install a hump and then next year do a roadway project. He explained that is one issue, and the other issue is whether once the humps are there the City is assuming the expense when they must be redone.
Chair Shepherd referred to page 31 and explained that the document includes provisions regarding removal, repair, and responsibility for costs.
Commissioner Bilezerian explained that when the City does a repaving project, if the contract requires installing a speed hump, it could be part of the next capital project and would be a minor cost; it would not be one person hired specifically to install a speed hump. He suggested that the speed hump is probably the least expensive method; that relocating curbs, gutters, chicanes, and other devices is very expensive
Traffic Engineer Rydell clarified that he is saying that the added cost is incumbent upon the City.
Commissioner Bilezerian commented that he believes that the City has an obligation after the community has paid for the first installation; maybe they could ask the neighborhood if this is a problem with it or just put that provision back in the document.
Senior Engineer Motahari suggested that the most practical way to address it is as part of the infrastructure.
Chair Shepherd explained that the document states that if the residents want the speed hump removed they have to pay for it, but irrigation and landscaping is included in maintenance of the roadway.
Commissioner Bilezerian commented that most of the residential streets in the City must be rehabilitated every 20 years unless there is a localized problem.
Traffic Engineer Rydell explained that the residents would not maintain anything, but would put money into a maintenance agreement with the City and the City would maintain the street.
Commissioner Wells asked what if the residents stop paying for the maintenance agreement.
Commissioner Bilezerian explained that it is an assessment among the property owners similar to street lighting.
Commissioner Willens moved that the Traffic Safety Commission send the draft of the Traffic Calming Program back to the Traffic Calming Committee to create what will be a final draft for presentation at the next meeting pursuant to the comments, consensus, and suggestions made at this meeting, seconded by Commissioner Kramer.
The Motion carried on the following roll call vote:
Ayes 6 Commissioners Bilezerian, Kramer, Parfenov, Wells, Willens, and Chair Shepherd
1. Public Works Department Report.
Senior Engineer Motahari reported that Staff has instructions to bring the Traffic Work Program to the Commission.
There was no discussion.
Approval of Minutes of June 25, 2007
Commissioner Willens moved to approve the Minutes of June 25, 2007 as presented, seconded by Commissioner Bilezerian.
Commissioner Wells asked if the warrants have been met for safety devices such as signals or stop signs at Ganado and Palos Verdes Drive East.
Traffic Engineer Rydell responded that they have not.
The meeting adjourned at 10:32 PM to the next regular meeting of the Traffic Safety Commission on August 27, 2007.