Residents resist county speed hump plan

Increased ticketing by police in recent months hasn’t slowed down speeders on Alta Vista Drive, leaving the county little choice but to move forward with plans to install speed humps, according to a county memo.

South City officials, however, are upset by the plans, and Mayor Joe Fernekes has called upon supervisors to reject the proposal.

The recommendation, if approved by supervisors at their meeting Tuesday, would go against a blanket South San Francisco City Council policy prohibiting speed humps within city limits. The portion of Alta Vista Drive in question, however, is unincorporated, and so falls under the jurisdiction of the county.

Installing humps is also likely to anger more than 100 South City residents who live nearby who submitted a petition asking the county to look for other ways to control traffic on Alta Vista. Larry Coleman, one of the residents who led the petition drive, said humps would divert traffic onto nearby streets such as his own, Northwood Drive. “When there are parallel streets that are convenient, traffic will ultimately flowover to those streets without the humps,” Coleman said.

More than half of the 30 residents living on Alta Vista, however, have requested the humps, including Richard Pera. Cars race as fast as 50 mph down the street’s steep decline, putting children and homeowners at risk, many of whom have to cross the road to get to their mailboxes, according to Pera.

“It’s only a matter of time until someone gets hit,” Pera said.

Following a two-month delay beginning in August to study whether increased ticketing by Highway Patrol in the area could solve the problem, county officials concluded drivers only slowed down when a trooper was parked in a conspicuous location. According to a six-day study completed when the original request for humps was made two years ago, 60 percent of drivers break the speed limit on Alta Vista Drive between Junipero Serra and El Camino Real, according to county Public Works Department Director Neil Cullen.

Spot-checks done on Alta Vista on Sept. 11 showed more than half the drivers exceeded the 25 mph speed limit, Cullen said. “Basically residents have come to us and said that police can’t be out there 24/7 and we need to do something physical to address the speeds on the street,” Cullen said.

In an attempt to compromise, the county has proposed installing four speed humps at a total county cost of $10,400 on the three-quarter-mile stretch of road, instead of three humps and two dips. To address public safety concerns by the South San Francisco City Council, “slots” would be cut in the humps to allow easy access for first responders such as fire engines, officials said.

Over the limit

Drivers exceeding 25 mph limit in a six-day study of 5,900 vehicles traveling on Alta Vista Drive between Junipero Serra Boulevard and El Camino Real in July 2004.

Speed Number of drivers

50 mph or above 19 percent

40 to49 mph 16 percent

30 to 30 mph 27 percent

29 mph or less 38 percent

Note: Percentages are rounded

Source: San Mateo County Department

of Public Works

ecarpenter@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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