By Mary O’KEEFE
On Wednesday, June 29, the Crescenta Valley City Council held a public meeting with law enforcement where the subject of traffic safety was discussed.
The meeting followed a previous emergency traffic safety meeting the CVTC held privately with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Department of Public Works – Los Angeles County and the Glendale Unified School District.
The purpose of Wednesday’s meeting was to ask the community to share their concerns and opinions on what should be done about road safety, added Dede Mueller, CVTC member and chair of the streets and transportation committee.
First to speak was Tujunga resident Mark Dutton, who expressed concern about what he saw on the streets of his community.
“[Cars are] run through stop signs, speed through neighborhoods,” he said. He added that it was dangerous to walk with his wife in the neighborhood because cars would quickly pass them.
“The only thing that will work is more law enforcement,” he said.
Tujunga is under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department. Dutton said he spoke to police several times and was told the department wanted to do something about it, but nothing appears to be done. Speed display trailers that light up with a vehicle’s speed have been installed in the area but do not appear to deter speeding drivers, he added.
“We don’t understand what’s going on,” he said. “Automated equipment [also doesn’t deter]; no one cares anymore.
He added that he’s not sure what caused the change in drivers who don’t obey the simplest laws, like stopping at a stop sign or a traffic light, but he noticed a difference in driving attitudes.
Capt. Robert Hahnlein of LASD – Crescenta Valley Station said that although Tujunga is under LAPD jurisdiction, if his deputies are driving through town on their way to unincorporated areas of LA County and they see a violation to the highway code, they respond.
“We have fast trailers [in LASD jurisdiction] and they usually help. They slow down a few cars,” he said.
He added that slowing down a few cars doesn’t solve the problem, but it does help.
Captain CHP Moulton added that his officers will also arrest a driver if they witness a traffic violation in the area. CHP coverage includes freeways and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, including portions of La Crescenta.
“If it’s [a traffic violation] what we see in front of us, although it may not be within our jurisdiction, we will fix it,” he said.
Moulton suggested seeking assistance from law enforcement in that specific jurisdiction. People can call stations and give agents a specific area and peak times of concern; then an officer may be on site.
This is something the CHP has done many times in regards to school traffic. Officers will be in specific locations that were identified earlier as trouble areas and will monitor and respond to traffic violators.
“The challenge is always resources,” Moulton said. He added that every time law enforcement places officers in one area, it means they are moving those officers away from another area where they would be providing service.
A resident inquired about the use of a “decoy” car, an unoccupied patrol unit, which is parked in front of an area identified as having trouble.
Hahnlein said they used this system on occasion; however, once some drivers discover it is a decoy and unoccupied, the unit is vandalized.
“It can deter for a while until they finally realize it’s been sitting there for a while,” he said.
Hahnlein added that some residents have offered to park a unit in their neighborhood and they will watch it, which has worked.
Another resident who lived in far north Glendale shared issues regarding school traffic near Clark Magnet High School. He talked about speeding and traffic jams during school hours. He also spoke of vehicles racing down New York Avenue during the evening hours. The concern was not only about speeding, but also vehicles with modified exhausts.
Representatives of the Glendale Unified School District have asked the public to report any violations near schools during school hours. With a description identifying the driver, the school can contact a parent/student. The district has people guarding drop-off/pick-up areas, but emphasized that they are not law enforcement and volunteers/teachers will not confront drivers; however, the administration can reach out.
“We need our parents and we need our community to work together,” said Hagop Kassabian, planning, development and facilities administrator at GUSD.
He shared a situation where he had spoken “several times” with parents about the removal of a teenager’s vehicle because of his dangerous driving practices, but to no avail.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go well,” he said.
Robbyn Battles, former chairman of the CVTC, asked if there was a way for Public Works to get grants that would specifically study speed issues.
“We are going to look for subsidies,” assured Julian Garcia, of Public Works.
He added that there is a process of obtaining grants and then creating any type of study, but they continue to seek funding.
The gist of the meeting boiled down to two things: not enough staff to cover the areas to be covered and drivers simply ignoring traffic rules.