DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - December 5, 2008

Blackhawk homeowners discuss safety at East Gate

Parents waiting for elementary students could face fines

by Geoff Gillette

Parking and space issues at Tassajara Hills Elementary School are spilling out onto neighborhood streets and causing problems for residents of Blackhawk.

When school at Tassajara Hills lets out at the end of the day, there is routinely a row of cars lined up in the school parking lot all the way from on Camino Tassajara to the turnaround. Parents wait 10 to 15 minutes in lines of up to 30 or 40 cars.

To combat this, some parents have taken to parking on Camino Tassajara north of the school. Several Blackhawk families have started parking on Blackhawk Drive near what is known as "the grassy knoll" just inside the gate to await their children.

However, if the Homeowners Association has its way, it could get pretty expensive to wait there. Resident Constance Smith said the HOA has issued an announcement that it is considering a fine for people parking just inside the gates. Enforced by the Blackhawk security forces, a first offense would cost $100, it would be $200 for a second offense, and $250 for a third.

"We're pretty fired up about this," Smith declared. "They are imposing this draconian ruling that will hit us with fines if we park here to wait for our kids."

Members of the HOA board's Police Committee held a meeting to discuss the issue with residents Nov. 12. More than 80 people turned out to talk about how the fines will increase the already long line of traffic waiting at Tassajara Hills.

Blackhawk Police Chief Alan Johnson explained to residents that the fines being discussed would be coming from the HOA, not the Sheriff's Department. He also said there are a number of reasons why having the parents wait on the side of Blackhawk Drive is not safe.

"The east gate isn't well designed," he stated. "There are too many cars fighting for too little space." He added, "Cars parking on the side of the road, most of them big SUVs, narrow the road down even further."

The south side of Blackhawk Drive does not have a sidewalk so many times residents will walk in the street. With the cars parked in the roadway, pedestrians are forced further out, which puts them in harm's way.

Johnson said residents who live near the pickup spot have complained about issues surrounding the large groups of children and parents. "There've been some incidents of vandalism because kids don't get picked up right away. We've even had two fistfights with parents over parking."

According to the HOA, the idea behind red striping the curbs and instituting the fines is to push the parking back far enough that the roadway isn't blocked right near the gate.

Committee Chairman Ron Banducci spoke to those in attendance and said that the fines are not set in stone. "I can assure you that this board and the HOA board have gone through a number of proposals. There's been no consensus solution. We hope that any of you who have ideas will come talk to us."

One resident asked why they didn't just have a crossing guard to get kids across the street and onto the north sidewalk. Johnson said it was something they pursued with the elementary school, but there was no PTA interest so the plan fizzled out.

Another questioned Johnson whether the drive to institute the fines is coming from a homeowner on Blackhawk Drive who doesn't like having all the cars parked on their street. Johnson said it was not coming from a single individual, it was an issue of keeping the children of Blackhawk safe.

Resident Stacy Galde spoke up, suggesting that the HOA Board look at getting involved with the Town of Danville to see if anything can be done. "Let's shift the paradigm here to a more positive one. Let's find out what we can and see what options there are," said Galde.

Banducci said that the issue is far from settled and resident input is strongly encouraged. The HOA will meet Dec. 9 to examine the issue. Banducci said that he hopes there will be a good exchange of ideas on how best to deal with the issue.

Comments

Posted by Kathy Brillheart, a resident of Danville
on Dec 6, 2008 at 8:54 am

There is a long history behind all this. Sadly this school needs a larger parking lot and the only way that could ever happen is through land donation. We've been told not to park across the street from the school as it adds to a traffic back up, people do illegal U Turns directly across from the school nearly hitting kids in the process (near the new fire station). They do this in order to save time as the don't want to wait it the left turn lane and we don't have a crossing guard to aid in the safety of our kids. There just isn't a great situation around this school for drop and pick off.

Some even say that a crossing guard could provide a "false sense of security" leading to more parents dropping their kids off on the other side of Tassajara Rd. (a road whereby cars zip by at 45, 55 and even 60 miles per hour!!) and having them cross Tassajara Rd. without parent supervision. Sadly the Blackhawk Assoc and residents don't want to help the parents out. If you look at any adjoining neighborhood around our schools in Danville and Alamo, those communities get plagued with cars and kids during pick up, but they can't complain because it's not "private" - it's public roads. So, these new and old rules for Tassajara force us all into a deeper grid lock situation. The real issue should be safety for the kids & hopefully one day a resolution to our horrible parking lot and pick up process will happen. The principal has done a great job at getting the flow of the parking lot to work as best it can, but there are so many cars and many parents who do in fact break the rules. My request to you all as writers is if Blackhawk Assoc. is moving forward with these fines, have them donate the funds back to the school (to Tassajara). Afterall, our schools are in dire straights financially and if they are going to be this way with our parents and kids, then "give back I say!!!" Fine all you want, but do something good with the money!!


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