Road Access for Disabled Americans

Open Letter
Lisa Carroll, Santee, California, March 2000


I live on a cul-de-sac off of Len Street in Santee, near San Diego. FYI: I have had two major back surgeries and one fusion in my neck. My most recent back surgery was 1/11/99, when they fused two levels to my pelvic bone. Due to this I have difficulty sitting.

In June of 1999, FIVE speed humps were placed on Len Street. Two humps west of the entrance to my cul-de-sac and three humps to the east of us, on a section of road less than 3/10 of a mile long between Amada Place and Magnolia Avenue. These humps were placed due to an appeal made by a resident on Len Street. (She had been turned down once)

Speed Study and other Criteria for Installing Speed Humps

The problem cited was speeding. A survey done by the consultants showed the 85th percentile speed to be 32.5 mph, which was not 10 mph greater than 25 mph speed limit. The study also marked that Len Street did not have heavy pedestrian crossing, driveway conflicts, or visibility problems. It listed Len Street as having one travel lane in each direction only.

The aforementioned were all required criteria for the installation of speed humps. The only required criteria that Len Street met was one lane in each direction only.

Under desirable criteria per the city's policy & the consultants report:

  1. Speed limit should not exceed 25mph...Len St. met this
  2. Street width not greater than 40 feet wide...Len St. met this
  3. Street grade not more than 8%...Len St. (a portion) was over this.
  4. Adequate vertical & horizontal alignment & sight distance ...Len St. OK
  5. Traffic volume should be greater than 1000 less than 5000 ADT...886
  6. Candidate for speed hump installation...NO

It DID NOT meet criteria for traffic volume or grade.

Len Street Speed Hump Process

According to the 6/29/98 Traffic Advisory Committee Minutes (City of Santee) -
Tom and Jodie Luxner, 10439 Len Street, Santee spoke on Application Number 22, Len Street. This application was on the list of Locations Eliminated. Mr. and Mrs. Luxner cited speed, obstruction of view due to retaining walls and a slight curve on their street as justification for installing speed humps. They also said a young child was seriously hurt when she was hit by a car last fall.

None of these seem to match the consultant's report including a young girl hit by a car. According to the police report and other neighbors it was a 16 year old male on a bike who hit or collided with a 73 year old man turning left out of Healy St. onto Len St. No speeding cars, no retaining walls obstructing views, no curve here either.

Question: How could speed humps have stopped this accident from happening?

The TAC voted 6 to 2 in favor of allowing the Luxner's to circulate a petition to those residents impacted by the proposed speed humps and they would need to obtain signatures of 75% of those residents, indicating they are in favor of the speed humps.

Jodie Luxner submitted a letter dated July 16,1998 indicating she had collected the required amount of signatures to meet the 75% requirement. This letter was stamped received Jul.20, 1998 by the City of Santee.

The signatures on this petition were supposed to be verified according to city policy. This was not done. The city said the consultants were supposed to be verifying the signatures.

I had already called the consultants and they faxed me a letter sent to Dennis Barnes, City Traffic Engineer-City of Santee. Dated September 14, 1998.

SUBJECT: Speed Hump Application Signature Check

This memo is in regards to our review of recommended Speed Hump Applicants. Those applicants who passed the initial speed hump criteria were directed per the City's Speed Hump Guidelines to obtain a signed petition from a minimum of 75% of the affected residents. Using the address maps provided by the City, we have matched the recorded address for each signature obtained and calculated the number of possible addresses affected. Based on this information, a percentage of signatures collected was calculated and is presented on the following sheet.

Len Street 23 possible signatures ... collected 18...78%...pass

Len Street should have been only 22 house is just east of the stop sign, between stop signs...but lets go ahead and use 23 houses.

In actually verifying the signatures I found out that one of the houses only two doors down from Ms. Luxner had sold and actually changed hands, according to the tax assessors office, on July 15th, 98. Ms. Luxner dated her letter the 16th of July. I also was able to find out that the new owners had moved in and the previous owner had already bought and signed for their new house in Alpine before July 16,1998.

This one unverified (invalid) signature now changes the count. Same 23 homes with only 17 signatures is now only 73%.

18 signatures divided by 23 = 0.78
17 signatures divided by 23 = 0.73

What a difference a signature (day) can make.

Under the new policy dated Dec. 15, 1999, the term affected resident changed to reflect others (like myself) that had no alternative access to their homes.

Now those 17 households made a decision that actually affected 77 homes. Does this sound reasonable to you? It does to our Mayor Jack Dale as well as Councilman Randy Vopel who both voted against people like myself being considered affected.

This very same situation in reverse happened to applicants #11 Timberlane Way (n/o Woodglen Vista). They had 14 signatures out of 19, which gave them 74%. If they had one more they would have had 15 divided by 19=78%. This street met the speeding criteria and the traffic volume was 1,300, with no grade problem. Guess no one explained the city wasn't really going to verify any actual signatures and anyone could sign next to the correct street address.

Hmmm... I wonder what the city would have done with a completely false petition with enough signatures listed to request the removal. You reckon they would have just rolled over and taken them out.

You do know that I would have been in some serious trouble for turning in false information, yet the city is O.K. with the fact that Ms. Luxner did just that.

Oh yeah, they didn't verify any signatures, so are they equally guilty of bad business, or just maybe I could have gotten away with my false list, would I be the sole guilty party? the tax payers just keep on paying and no one is held accountable.

Serious Problems Being Overlooked

Now the real issue. We have some people that do speed around on the residential streets. Those same people are still speeding over the speed humps that are there to slow them down. The people it slows down are the people that weren't speeding in the first place but don't want to tear up their cars so they go even slower. Then there are people like myself that stop before rolling over the speed humps so we don't increase our pain. In reading the Engineering and Traffic Survey For Speed Limits (September 1998) prepared by Hartzog & Crabill, Inc. for the City of Santee. I read the following under STATISTICAL ANALYSIS FACTORS.

The 15th Percentile is that speed at or below which 15 percent of the vehicles are traveling. This value is important in determining the minimum allowable speed limit, given that the vehicles traveling below this speed tend to obstruct the flow of traffic, thereby increasing the accident potential.

If I have figured correctly, using the speed survey done 8/19/99 after the humps were installed, the 15th percentile would be between 20 and 21 mph.

The yellow caution sign suggest 15 mph; currently that could be potentially dangerous, based on the 15th percentile reasoning.

I guess this makes me an idiot to even consider stopping to roll over these humps. Maybe I just don't get to get off my street any more. Is this how we treat the disabled in Santee?

I have personally experienced the rage someone can display when they think you are driving too slowly and you are in front of them.

I have to drive over two humps before I get to our cul-de-sac. I will be making a left-hand turn with my blinker on and people are so aggravated with me they try to pass me on the left before the next hump. I have almost hit two different vehicles thus far and been chewed up one side and down the other for driving too slow.

I have also experienced the delight of having someone tap your bumper because they don't realize I'm not just slowing down for the humps but stopping and then rolling over them. Being rear-ended could put me back in a wheel chair for good.

I feel like an accident waiting for a place to happen. Some of my neighbors recognize my vehicle and know I'm going to stop and roll. What do I do when I am out on the other 21 streets of Santee that currently have these humps?

Inadequate Enforcement

Santee City has at least 38 more applications waiting for answers to their speeding problems. We currently don't have enough traffic officers on duty at any given time. We have poorly timed traffic signals and many unwarranted stop signs in Santee. The traffic is not flowing smoothly and I'm not sure that we haven't added to the problems we already have by sending our speeders onto our neighbors streets in a round about so that by the time they hit the main arterials they are either late or mad or both.

Please come look at our city. You will also notice we now have more children using the new speed humps as ramps for their bikes and skateboards. (Might I mention that they also don't wear their helmets or pads, same is true of more than half of the skaters at the WoodGlen Vista Skate Park) We don't have enough officers to patrol that either!

Emergency Services - More Problems

I haven't even touched on the problem this is causing for our emergency vehicles. You could not pay me to ride in the back of an ambulance on a gurney going over those speed humps at any speed. I would be bounced off onto the floor at 15 mph. Just try to imagine them trying to run an IV while going over those humps. Yeah it might seem safe til you're on the receiving end. Imagine your child is choking and now has quit breathing and the EMT's are behind the fire engine that is headed to your house. Oh those pesky humps...the seconds keep on ticking away...your child is still not breathing...

A direct quote from Jim Covington of the Santee Fire Department " On behalf of the fire department I just want to say that they do slow us down slightly but we've never been unable to make our destination no matter how many speed bumps are in the way. To tell you how much it slows us down I can't really say". This quote was taken from the TAC meeting tapes January 31, 00.

Those seconds are ticking away and they can't say how much extra time has ticked by because of those humps. Your child has now been added to the alarming statistics stacking up against the delays caused by speed humps nation wide.

Perceived Safety

Let's try another issue. We are all concerned over the possibility of a child getting hit by a car. Take Len Street. We went from 32.5 to 27 mph. "It's safer to be run over at 25 mph than 30 mph". Actually, this is partially true, though pretty stupid! It's about 5% safer!

Federal Highway Administration Office of Highway Safety figures state that 90% of those hit at 30 mph or above will be killed or injured, while 85% of those hit at 25 mph will suffer the same fate (meaning will be killed or injured). Anybody want to send his or her child in first?

It might be better to say that it's not safe at all to be run over, and avoid the problem entirely! After all this is a safety project, isn't it?

Perceived safety or a false sense of safety has proven time and again to be more dangerous than reality.

Reckless driving is irresponsible but so are people, who walk their dogs, jog, bike, rollerblade or skateboard without concern for vehicular traffic.

The Calfornia Environmental Quality Act / Air Pollution

Know anything about CEQA, the Calfornia Environmental Quality Act? The city took a Class 1 exemption because the installation of speed humps is a minor alteration to existing public facilities. This was pursuant to section 15301. Section 15382 of the State CEQA Guidelines defines "significant effect on the environment" as "a substantial, or potentially substantial, adverse change in any of the physical conditions within the area affected by the project including...air."

Seen any studies on the effect of slower speeds, stopping, starting and accelerating can have on the air quality. Studies have been done. Just not by our city.

Did anyone take these things into consideration?

Tell me have you ever seen this one. A driver steers his vehicle as close to the curb where the hump seems to taper off slightly. I suppose this is to lessen the effect of a rough ride for the speeder.

Our children are walking on the sidewalk and now we have made targets out of them. The speeders are no longer driving fast down the middle of their lane. They are now driving fast while aiming for just the right spot at the curb where if the hit it wrong it will put them up on the sidewalk.

You are walking your child to school. There is nothing you can do to stop that 4000 lb. car from hitting you or maybe your child. The driver lost control trying to avoid that speed hump and ended up on the sidewalk.

Trying to get around a slow driver like myself, a car pulls out from behind me to go around and hits you head on. Who's to say it would have or would not have happened anyway, with or without the speed humps.

The Public Process

I am certain we as a city have not thought this through. Our Mayor seems to think they are what we need.

Quote from Mayor Jack Dale at the December 15th, 1999 City Council meeting. Taken off the city's recording:

Dale..."I appreciate what you're saying. I drive over them every morning and every night and umh quite frankly I think they are good for the city. I believe that I appreciate the fact what you're saying about umh deputies. But the fact these things work 24 hours a day and the fact is it requires you to slow down, and also the fact I'd suggest that everyone of these streets has gotten 75% of the people that live on them to sign them."

Audience..."NO THEY DID NOT."

Dale..."If indeed on Len the rules were broke we're gonna have them brought to us, if we haven't followed the rules then we will correct it and we will follow the rules."

To date, 2-29-00, I still have the proof that they did not have the 75% needed for Len Street and I have yet to see Mayor Jack Dale follow the rules on this one.

They have held my feet to the fire over the rules since I pointed out their errors.

The city mailed out a questionnaire dated January 11, 2000.

The city received 67 responses of the total of seventy-nine (79) questionnaires that were mailed to all "affected" residences on Jan. 11, 00. Results: 34 to remove and 33 to keep. The letter dated January 26,2000 stated removing had 51% and keeping had 49%.

Per the city's Legislative Policy Memorandum (LPM 99-01), 50 percent approval is required to remove the speed humps. Fifty-one (51) percent of the affected residences agreed that the speed humps be removed.

Letter dated February 1, 2000.
Per the City's Legislative Policy Memorandum (LPM 99-01) staff identified there were seventy-nine "affected" residences within the vicinity of the existing speed humps on Len St.

Here in this last statement was another error on the part of the city. Two homes and their driveways are actually east of the stop sign at Amada Pl. This is where the street segment ends. Both of these homes have alternate access around the speed humps.

Now if according to their new policy they fall into the category of excessive out of the way travel, then the city has even more explaining to do.

Seeing they are at the entrance to Amada Pl. everyone east of them on Len St. to Santana St. and North on Santana St. would have the same excessive out of the way travel.

Folks that is another 75 homes by my count.

One of the two homes is east of the second stop sign. The white line where you come to a stop is on the other side of her driveway. The stop sign is placed in the corner of her lot. This house was not included in the first petition either.

The second home was not originally to be on the petition but was requested to be added. Letter dated July 16,1998 from Ms. Luxner to the city.

"There are 22 houses on Len Street between Magnolia and Amada Place with driveways emptying into the street. There is a 23rd house, 10658 Len Street that is just past the stop sign at the East End of Len, and Amada Place. Their driveway opens into the intersection of Amada. They signed the petition, as they have a mentally retarded son and are tired of speeders running this stop sign. They wish to be included in the count. They are in "limbo" as their driveway opens into the Intersection Street Amada, located between the two stop signs on Len."

Same letter: "If you only include the 22 houses, 75% would be 16.5 houses and I having 17!!!! If you include the Burleigh's house, the total would be 23 houses, 75% being 17.5 and I have 18."

What is not said in this letter is that one of those signatures belongs to a woman who had moved to Alpine. So Ms. Luxner was one short either way.

Now back to the City's letter Feb. 1, 00. During the questionnaire period one house was identified as vacant, and was subsequently dropped from the questionnaire tally. Therefore a total of seventy-eight (78) residences had a right to vote on this issue.

Oops another error...The city will no doubt say it is how you (they) interpret this. The new policy states: "In cases where the dwelling unit is not occupied, the property owner or an authorized representative may consent or object to the proposed speed hump."

The City of Santee did what? Vacant house - subsequently dropped from the questionnaire tally. The city did not try to reach the owner or company that owned this property.

Now on with the rest of the letter from Feb. 1, 00. "Per LPM 99-01, "If 50 percent of the affected residences signify that they support removal then all affected residences will be notified that the speed hump(s) will be removed." "A total of 39 residences (50 percent) requesting the removal of speed humps are required. The City released the results of this vote (questionnaire) on January 26, 2000 stating that 34 residents were in favor of removing the speed humps which corresponds to 43.6 percent of 78 affected residences. The City incorrectly stated that 51 percent were in favor of removing the speed humps. The 51 percent in favor of removal of speed humps reflected only the percentage of the sixty-seven (67) questionnaires received as of the deadline. This error was presented to TAC and was discussed accordingly."

"At the meeting, TAC solicited input from residents in favor of removing and keeping the speed humps on Len Street. After communication from the public, TAC recommended to keep the speed humps."

The public was not notified til after this meeting that they had changed their standing. The neighborhood was still under the impression that the city would be removing the humps.

Needless to say some people who chose not to vote were upset that their vote counted anyway.

Now the city received some late replies and I personally have the other replies to remove in hand. Some people aren't sure they trust the city to say they got their late vote.

I have given a written appeal of the decision of TAC to the City and now am waiting for this to come up in front of the City Council.

I am very curious to see if Mayor Jack Dale keeps to his December 15th statement. Let's see if they indeed do follow the rules. By the way there is no deadline for the questionnaires to be turned in by in the new or old policy.

I bring that up because it actually is not one of the rules and the City Council may try to hide behind it. If we have 50% by our appeal date then the city with all its errors should remove these humps.

If they had included everyone to begin with it should be obvious by the recent vote that you would have been hard pressed to have gotten 75% of this neighborhood to sign.

Pay attention Folks. No one is looking over the city's shoulder and as long as they pass policies (guidelines) they can seemingly do as they please. They keep telling me that these are not laws and they don't have to follow them precisely.

Oh by the way Lisa, you have to follow our policies to the tee. To the tune of I had to pay to have signatures notarized so the city could be fair to Ms. Luxner. At least that was what I was told. I was also told that the questionnaires were being counted just like if you went to vote in the primaries. If you don't vote Lisa, then you don't count.

I truly believe this was what the understanding was by the city. They sent a questionnaire out to 80 residences on Big Rock Rd. over the removal of a stop sign. Per the city's documents the results were as follows:

"All of the households with a Big Rock Rd. address (80 homes) were sent a questionnaire. Fifty-one of the eighty households responded to the questionnaire. Forty-three of the fifty-one households voted to keep the four-way stop as it is today. This translates to approximately 84% of the households in favor of not removing the stop signs on Big Rock Road at Woodpecker Way.
Staff Recommendations:
Staff recommends that the All-Way Stop remain due to the circumstances of its' initial installation and that an overwhelming majority the residents want the stop signs to remain as well.

I guess it really is in how you translate it.

The City will say that they have to follow the policy, and then obviously don't follow it.

What is a person to think?

Close Calls

I PERSONALLY (SINCE JULY 1999) HAVE HAD FIVE CLOSE CALLS BECAUSE OF STOPPING FOR THE HUMPS. Speed humps are barriers for me, while riding or driving in a vehicle, no matter how slowly I go over them.

It's still not rocket science

These devices are designed to cause discomfort for the average driver. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that what is uncomfortable for a healthy person is at best extremely painful and at worst injurious to certain disabled or fragile individuals.

Lisa Carroll
Santee, California
March 2000

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