Unsightly Wheel Stops at PCY Removed; City to Broach New Plan

Recently installed wheel stops, or parking bumpers, placed near Paradise Canyon Elementary School to help control what is recognized as a chaotic pickup and drop-off area, were removed, last week after pushback from local neighbors convinced the Traffic Commission to reevaluate the area and conduct a study with community input.
The commission voted 3-1 on Oct. 16 to do away with the 36 wheel stops, and two days later they were removed. They’ll be stored for possible future use elsewhere in the city, said Public Works Director Patrick DeChellis.
Wheel stops, like speed bumps, are typically placed on the road to slow down motorists.
A new plan or option to help control traffic flow might be brought back in early January, at the earliest, and should include information from the school district and the community, DeChellis said.
The wheel stops were installed in mid-September in the center median of Gould Avenue at Knight Way near PCY, but incited intense scrutiny from neighbors living near the intersection, who said the barriers made traffic even worse.
By Tuesday, some drivers said the removal of the wheel stops had made transportation in the area better.
“It used to be a little more crowded,” said PCY parent Miriam Hendes, picking up her son Aiden, who is in preschool. “It’s good [now], running smooth.”
But other drivers could be seen making illegal U-turns in the area where the bumpers were previously placed.
Homeowners had complained at a Sept. 26 Joint Use Committee meeting about the wheel stops for reasons ranging from safety — the potential lack of emergency vehicle access to the area — and traffic backing up on Gould. Their unsightly look was another complaint.
A planted median was initially envisioned for the location but the $500,000 price tag for the lowest bid was too high, DeChellis said during the September meeting.
At the most recent traffic commission meeting, resident Donald Manning told panel members that he lived in the 5000 block of Gould on a private drive of four houses. He wanted the wheel stops removed and presented a petition signed by his neighbors on Gould asking for that consideration: “We were not considered at all,” he said about neighbors’ concerns.
He added that the wheel stops have led to longer car lines and that children and their parents still jaywalk as they cross Gould.
“I have watched the traffic and I think it has gotten worse as far as child safety,” Manning said. “My life’s history was in public safety, I was in the fire service 40 years. Emergency vehicles cannot get through during the period of times children are loaded and unloaded. People who need them will not get that help.”
Manning said trash trucks had been driving over the barriers but he didn’t know what it would do to their tires.
Planning Commision vice chair Edward Yu made the motion to remove the barriers and come back with some kind of study with community input. Commissioner Kati Rubinyi disagreed with his motion.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to take away these wheel stops,” Rubinyi said before she voted against. “You don’t take away wheel stops without having some [other] type of barrier.”
After the vote, Yu said the commission is taking the opportunity to listen to what residents want and prevent U-turns.
“Put your thinking cap on,” Yu said. “Make some observations and I’ll be out there observing too.”
Nearby homeowner Rose Manning said she thought the city was very fast and efficient in taking out the wheel stops.
“It seems to me the traffic is flowing better,” said Manning, as she retrieved her mail. She had attended the previous meetings with her husband, Donald.
“We’re all very happy about this,” she said, referring to her fellow homeowners. “We’re hoping that in the future they would keep us informed about what they’re going to do because we had no knowledge of this.”
Kim Gallo, a grandparent to two children at PCY, said that someone had placed a chair in the center of the median with a cardboard sign that read “$231 fine” with cones surrounding it. The sign was gone by Tuesday, however.
“I thought it was kind of funny,” Gallo said. “I was kind of glad they did it because they had all the cones up and then the sign you really couldn’t go around. But now they took it all down.”
Gallo said she is in favor of having some kind of barrier in the median.
“What I noticed sitting here watching people is, before they put up those barriers, when school was getting out, people [driving] did whatever they wanted in turning, and kids were running in and out,” Gallo said, adding that parents park across the street and illegally cross on foot to get their kids.
“I thought it was kind of crazy,” Gallo said. “They don’t want to go 50 feet up and turn around. I really liked the idea of the barriers but I could see that people who lived right here wouldn’t like them. Maybe [they could use] something not so big, like smaller speed bumps or something? I definitely think there’s a problem. It’s the parents, not the kids … there’s no order.”
PCY Principal Carrie Hetzel, meanwhile, said she and her staff watch drivers make illegal U-turns and pedestrians jay walking almost daily without the parking bumpers.
“It is unsafe and a poor example for students,” Hetzel said in an email. “As for the bumpers, I’m not sure if they made the problem better or worse. Pickup and drop-off are busy times where parents need to allow extra time, follow the laws and signage, and have plenty of patience. It is all for the safety of the students.”

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