Yield vs. Stop sign debate in Vista

"What about speed-bumps?"

"The geometry of the intersection is kind of skewed," said a city engineer.
  • "The geometry of the intersection is kind of skewed," said a city engineer.
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After years of watching cars speed through the intersection by her Vista home, Betty Haver got her traffic sign on Tuesday, October 13.

After much discussion, the Vista City Council voted unanimously to place “Yield” signs on east and westbound traffic. The 97-year-old, who has lived in Vista since 1976, says the traffic on Warmlands and Calle Sinaloa streets has increased and drivers can't see each other.

"Several years ago, I wrote requesting that the town of Vista install a stop or yield sign," she wrote. "Today again we had a close call with a car speeding through on Warmlands Street without hesitation. Please do something about this hazard."

But across the street, Mary Kelleher had different ideas.

"Currently, there is no problem with traffic on Calle Sinaloa. The problem may be with the new residents who are using Warmlands — they do not slow down or use any caution when exiting or entering the dead end of Warmlands," she wrote the council.

Kelleher lives on the northwest corner of the intersection in a subdivision at the northeast edge of Vista. Like her neighbor, she has lived on Calle Sinaloa for more than 25 years. She was the only person to respond to a survey the city traffic engineers sent to all the residents in the area. While she wanted to see traffic slow down, she didn't think a stop sign was suitable.

"What about speed-bumps?" Kelleher asked.

Vista traffic engineers looked at the intersection and found traffic was pretty light. And there have been no accidents in the past three years. But they could see where drivers on eastbound Calle Sinaloa have a huge blind spot because of the angles of the intersection. That alone qualifies it for a stop sign, according to Sam Hasenin.

"The geometry of the intersection is kind of skewed," he said. “[A stop sign] guarantees that a vehicle eastbound will not just proceed through the intersection." If you're stopping eastbound, then you stop the westbound traffic, too, he noted. But the oddness of placing a stop sign to hinder through-traffic in favor of traffic from a dead-end street was troubling to some council members.

"I would do a four-way stop," mayor Judy Ritter said.

Councilman Cody Campbell saw it differently. "We don't want to change it up so much that it becomes an inconvenience for local residents," he said.

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A better solution to some of these messed-up intersections in Vista would be some realignment of the streets. We're stuck with streets that are not only too narrow for today's traffic loads, they're too curvy and have many blind driveways. Add impatient drivers, and you have the formula for crashes, and near misses. But one thing that stop signs don't guarantee is that traffic actually stops. The penchant for using four-way stops all around the city does guarantee that drivers get even more impatient. I have to deal with a number of all-way stops in my neighborhood, and now observe some drivers who approach stop signs with no intention of slowing, let alone stopping. Only if some other vehicle shows up do they actually have to brake hard to avoid collision. The old "fake stop" or "rolling stop" at a stop sign at least had the stop sign treated the way a "yield" sign was intended. But now, it's more like "stop me if you can." Our five village idiots, er city council members, do have their work cut out for them, as they keep crying poor-mouth.

Rolling stops happen all over now. It seems to reflect a changing attitude of drivers. Many don't signal when turning or changing lanes, either. It's the "me generation" run amuck.

No problem - want stop signs? Traffic signals? More enforcement? No problem. All this can happen but you will need to kill a couple of people at the intersection first. "Speed bumps" slow cars down but it also slows emergency vehicles.

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