http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/06/06/slow-down-warning-hurts-neighbors-eyes


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - June 6, 2008

'Slow down' warning hurts neighbors' eyes

Residents object to flashing signs installed without their input

by Meghan Neal

In Tim Brennan's home is an expansive window with a picturesque view of green trees, rolling hills, his neighbors' beautifully landscaped yards - and a 15-foot speed monitoring sign flashing "SLOW DOWN" in bright red letters.

He came home one day and there it was.

"It's an electronic totem pole!" he lamented. "This thing is an eyesore, it's a nuisance and it interrupts our quality of life."

In March, two speed limit display signs were installed in the center median on El Cerro Boulevard, near the intersections of Constitution Drive and Enterprise Drive, to help quell the speeding problem on the road.

Several residents are distressed about the sudden appearance of the signs, not only because of the imposing objects themselves but because they believe the town forced them on the neighborhood without giving residents fair say first - or even a heads up as a courtesy.

After a few letters back and forth between residents and town staff, and a neighborhood petition to remove the signs, around 15 people met with members of Danville's transportation department May 19 to discuss the issue.

"El Cerro Boulevard has been historically a hot spot for speeders, and we've gotten many complaints over the years," explained Traffic Engineer Assistant Andy Dillard, who headed up the meeting.

Brennan said it seemed like the town was giving neighbors the blow off. The meeting was billed as "informational," and no high-level staff or Town Council members attended. He argued that if putting in the signs was supposed to be beneficial to the community, why was it so clandestine?

"Most people who were at the meeting seemed most frustrated that they weren't included and never got a chance to be heard," he said. "When (the town) wanted to do something, they just did it."

The town doesn't typically notify residents before installing these kinds of signs, said Dillard. But the discrepancy is that other areas around town hosting speed limit display signs are big, busy roads with few nearby homes.

El Cerro Boulevard, on the other hand, is in somewhat of a limbo position, teetering between being a major thoroughfare and a quiet neighborhood. Neighbors fear the signs could be a significant step in the development of the road.

"I said, 'If you guys don't speak out now, this is gonna set the precedent,'" said Brennan.

Tom Marinshaw, who lives directly across the street from the eastbound-facing sign, agreed he'd like to see the "eyesore" go.

"They don't do any good," he said.

But the town argues they do in fact do some good. After speed monitoring signs were put in on Camino Tassajara and El Capitan the streets saw a 1-3 mph reduction in speed, said Dillard.

"Based on our before-and-after studies of the locations where we placed these signs, they have been effective in regards to lowering the speed," he said. "(Drivers) oftentimes don't realize how fast they're going."

Moreover, town staff says it has few other options. El Cerro Boulevard has a speed limit of 30 mph and is too big to have speed bumps put in. Police enforcement is the best way to keep speeding in check, said Dillard, but "they're out there a lot as it is, they can't be out there all day long."

If the signs must stay, Brennan said he'd at least like to see them moved up the road a bit, where they wouldn't be in close proximity to homes. He added it makes more sense to have them on the edge of the neighborhood educating people in advance of the problematic area, "not once they're already in the heat of it."

"We're not going to move it just for the sake of someone being unhappy with it; it has to make logical sense coming from a traffic standpoint," said Dillard. "If we can find a suitable spot that is effective we would consider moving the sign, but we haven't determined that yet."

Another meeting will be held once the town decides whether or not to move the signs, likely sometime this summer.

Contact reporter Meghan Neal at mneal@DanvilleWeekly.com.

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