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Willows Traffic - Thank You

From: domainremoved <K>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2017 05:20:08 +0000

Dear Mayor Keith and Councilmembers,

I attended last night’s meeting and want to thank you for approving the deployment of the “No Thru Traffic” signs in the Willows. The signs may not solve our problem, but they are an important step in the right direction. Moreover, I want to commend the City staff for the speed at which they moved to install the signs – they were up in our neighborhood today!

We live on Baywood and for at least the 15 minutes I watched traffic in front of our house today (from approximately 5:20 to 5:35), the number of vehicles going eastbound on our street (i.e., toward Blackburn/Marmona) seemed significantly fewer than normal. I have to believe it was not just coincidence but rather a positive byproduct of the installation of the signs.

One thought about the sign at Middlefield and Woodland – it may be more effective if it were positioned in a way so that drivers on Middlefield could see it before they make the right turn onto Woodland. As it was situated today, commuters would likely not have seen the sign until after they made the right turn.

Also, Councilmember Mueller brought up the point last night about residents getting confused about what the signs may mean. Perhaps a post-card or a posting on Nextdoor regarding the import of the signs may help alleviate any such confusion.

With regard to the enforceability of the “No Thru Traffic” signs, I have to say I think the City staff is taking an overly narrow view of the precedent cases and the relevant statute. The precedent case cited last night, and others I found in what I admit was limited research this morning, all appear to apply to different signage, not specifically to "No Thru Traffic" signs.

The City staff cited to Section 21101.6 of the California Vehicle Code, which provides that "local authorities may not place gates or other selective devices on any street which deny or restrict the access of certain members of the public to the street, while permitting others unrestricted access to the street."

It is indisputable this statute is a clear bar to "Local Traffic Only" or "Neighborhood Traffic Only" signs because one group of drivers (locals or neighborhood drivers) have unrestricted access to the applicable street and other drivers (non-locals or non-neighborhood drivers) do not. In other words, one set of drivers can use the street and others cannot. Further, such signs are, by their very meaning, a “selective device”.

A “No Thru Traffic” sign, however, is easily distinguished from being a “selective device”.

First, a "No Thru Traffic" sign does not select or distinguish between drivers. No driver - local, neighborhood or not, can drive "thru". I couldn’t use Baywood, Marmona and Gilbert to get to Willow from Middlefield/Woodland and neither could the commuter from Palo Alto.

Second, everyone's access to the street is restricted. Both the local/neighborhood driver and the commuter can use the street but not for "thru" purposes. I can drive to my house. So can the commuter. I can drive to my friend’s house on Trenton Way. So can the commuter if she so chooses. However, if I want to access Willow, I need to use a different route. This also applies equally to the commuter.

Third, the "device" is not selective - it applies to everybody.

I urge the City staff to do more research on this issue. At a minimum, the City ought to be taking the position that these signs (white/black) are enforceable because on their face, they do not violate 21101.6 of the CVC. Moreover, to address Councilmember Mueller’s concern about confusion and to enhance their effectiveness, one could make the sign even more clear by saying “No Thru Traffic to Willow Road”.

Lastly, other cities in Northern California, including Los Altos and Atherton, use these signs. Pittsburg actually appears to have (and enforce) “No Thru Traffic” signs as part of their traffic calming program (http://www.ci.pittsburg.ca.us/index.aspx?page=200).

We ought to reach out to these cities and leverage what research and learnings they have. Let’s not take the path of least resistance on this!

Look forward to continued engagement and action on this important topic. Thank you again for your willingness to listen and address our neighborhood’s concerns.

Regards, Amar

Amar Murugan
130 Baywood Avenue

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Received on Wed Nov 15 2017 - 21:25:03 PST

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