Does intersection warrant stop signs in San Carlos?

Not enough “points” to justify it

(Image from Google Maps)
  • (Image from Google Maps)

San Carlos Navajo Community Planners, Inc. (NCPI) on March 18 voted 8-1 to take an alternate method of requesting a four-way stop at Cowles Mountain Boulevard and Boulder Lake Avenue, a San Carlos intersection that was the site of vehicular accidents on January 12 and February 15 of this year.

The intersection didn't meet the city-council criteria for "all-way" signage. Installation is based on a point total, with points assessed for circumstances such as the number of accidents during a three-year period (3 points per mishap, for up to 15 points), traffic volumes (15 possible points), and pedestrian volumes (5 possible points).

Council policy requires a minimum of 20 points, and the intersection received 17 points for a typical weekday and 16 points for Saturday, according to a February 19 email from senior traffic engineer Gary Pence.

The vote triggered the council's alternative process. When a planning group supports signage, their council representative may ask the mayor to approve them. NCPI member Michael McSweeney cast the dissenting vote after the panel rejected his motion to delay action until next month because opponents said some residents only recently learned about the issue.

Jan Redford was among residents who spoke prior to the vote. She said residents of her 140-unit complex (the Cottages) "just got word of this." The homeowners’ association was "meeting as we speak," she said. "I see no reason why we need stop signs. It's such a quiet street."

Sign supporter Barbara Brooks said, "I actually hear the accidents." She told the planners board that she watched firefighters on February 15 remove the roof of a car to rescue a woman trapped inside. "I have two grandchildren who have to cross that road," she said. "I worry about them all the time."

Patti Fox spoke about an accident involving her son. Six years ago, a driver struck her son's vehicle as he turned left from Cowles Mountain onto Boulder Lake. "His car was totaled," Fox said. She called the accident "fortuitous" because the driver could have "hit kids playing down the street."

While supporters spoke about speeding drivers, Michael Lewis and Harry Smith said the 35-mile-per-hour speed limit wasn't enforced. Lewis said that Cottages residents were "disenfranchised." Of speeding drivers, Smith said, "I think people leave ten minutes late."

Resident Gwen Baldwin and San Carlos Area Council president John Pilch gave the planners board petitions signed by about 192 sign proponents.

Furthermore, 7th District councilman Scott Sherman's office made more than 400 calls about the issue. Jon Staab, Sherman's community representative, said 56 people wanted stop signs and 13 people opposed them.

After the vote, chair Anthony Wagner told the audience that they needed to speak to Sherman "to show support or opposition."  However, a February 20 email from Biljana Dekic of Transportation Engineering stated the city would "have the work orders ready today." If the board votes in favor, "we will send them to Street Division as soon as we receive the memo from Council District 7."

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