August 14, 2004

The Battle of the Bumps

And now for something completely different.

There's a controversy that's been boiling for months in the neighborhoods of La Jolla, over five speed bumps installed along a quarter mile stretch of La Jolla Rancho Road. Here are two recent mentions in the local La Jolla Light newspaper: a 7/29/2004 story and two letters to the editor printed 8/5/2004 .

The owners of the multimillion-dollar mansions on either side of the road managed to get the City of San Diego to rush through a speed bump approval, much to the surprise of the surrounding community. What prompted the call for bumps was quite reasonable: too many drivers were speeding well over the posted 25 mph limit. I used to walk my dog on this stretch of road all the time, and several times I had to dive for cover and yank the dog into the bushes to get out of the way of some nut whooshing by at over 50mph.

Here's the now-infamous stretch of road:

According to the La Jolla Light, this is a "narrow, winding road". They got the narrow part right, but it's as straight as an arrow. You'd think the editor of the local newspaper would have caught a mistake like that.

On the morning of Thursday August 12th, passersby saw this mess at the 1775 address of La Jolla Rancho. Someone papered the entire frontage of the yard.

A wide-angle collage of two photos showing another view of the papered 1775 house.

If I had to guess, I'd say this was the owner of 1775. He was taking numerous pictures of the mess all along the property. Interestingly, when I drove by here a few hours later, the mess had been completely, totally cleaned up and you'd never know that anything had ever happened.

This 1775 house was already notable before someone came along and papered it. First, there's the dress hanging from the tree.

Yes, that's what I said, a dress hanging from a tree right over the front yard. I first noticed the dress many months ago. I'm pretty sure the sign hanging from the same branch says THIS IS A SCARECROW. Um, ok. I've never seen crows on this road. I guess the sign works.

The other thing that's notable about 1775 is the red barriers on either side of the speed bump:

This is the part that pushes me over the edge and into the camp of the 800 people who signed the petition to have these bumps removed. The "safety reflectors", which I'll get to in a moment, are one thing, but these red-painted concrete barriers are the most extraordinary thing I've ever seen along a neighborhood street in terms of "wait a minute, that can't be legal." Think about it: how is this a safe thing for law-abiding drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians (including folks like me walking my dog, and mothers pushing their baby carriages)? How can it be legal to install these devices which have one purpose and one purpose only: to cause as much damage to a vehicle as possible, and possibly cause injury to pedestrians, bicyclists, or other motorists.

Note how in the photo above, the "safety reflector" pole has been knocked down, no doubt run over by a truck or something. What's standing is another pole that I'm guessing the owner of 1775 put in. Just you watch: within a few days that'll be down as well.

The "safety reflectors" are a problem all along Rancho now. Check 'em out:

This is a narrow street, which when two vehicles in opposite directions approach each other, leaves very little room for pedestrians to maneuver out of the way. Problem is, there are parked vehicles -- often service trucks, gardeners' pickups, etc --- parked along the sides of the road. Often right near these steel poles. And when that happens, and you encounter an oncoming vehicle, it's sometimes hard to get out of the way, because if you're not careful, you'll drive right into one of these steel things, since they're sticking right out in the road.

What nincompoop put these things in? And how can they realistically be called safety reflectors? There's nothing safe about them. Many of them have been knocked down or pretty beat up. They're replaced regularly. No doubt at taxpayer expense. Why didn't they just run the bumps all the way to the edge of the shoulder? I mean, it doesn't take a PhD to understand that these things were placed where they were placed to prevent people from driving around the bumps. So put the bumps all the way out to the very edge of the shoulder. If the bumps by law have to stay, I think they actually should be widened to the very edge, and these reflector thingies removed. Put red flags up, supported by thin plastic poles if need be. But steel poles designed to damage vehicles and possibly injure pedestrians is a disaster . . . that's already happening.

One final thing: for many months along Rancho a ton of these political signs appeared, urging people to re-elect Scott Peters to the San Diego City Council during the CA primary held back in the winter. (Here's a recent expose on Peters that ran in the San Diego City Beat. And here's another expose about Peters from the San Diego Reader.) I love his slogan: Getting Results for Us. Who is "Us"? I guess the homeowners along this stretch of road: they apparently appealed to Peters who apparently was the one who got these bumps put in, bypassing the normal notification processes that involve getting the attention and approval of the whole neighborhood, not just this block. I doubt it's coincidental that these Peters signs popped up like mushrooms all along this road just around when the bumps were originally installed.

Posted by brian at August 14, 2004 12:48 PM


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