Overflow Crowd Packs Special City Council Meeting
Huge number of people line up to voice concerns over one Saugus neighborhood’s
It all started with Benz
Rd. Now it has grown to include hundreds of
residents surrounding Benz Rd.
The debate over how to combat high traffic volume in this Saugus neighborhood came to a boil at Tuesday
afternoon’s special City Council meeting.
sits between Bouquet Canyon Road
and Copper Hill. Until 2003, it was not a through street, however the extension
of Copper Hill opened it up to traffic as it served as a short cut.
Since then, Benz Rd.
residents have been appealing to the City for help. Several meetings were set
up, and in 2005 turn restrictions were placed on Bouquet Canyon Road and Copper Hill.
While the traffic volumes decreased after the turn restrictions were
implemented, the residents along the roadway still asked for more mitigation.
The City sent out a survey to residents in the entire
neighborhood, and held a meeting to discuss potential corrective measures. Two
options resulted in some talk, and they included installing speed cushions
along Benz Rd.
and the surrounding streets, and installing a diverter which would cut off
traffic at Benz Rd.
and Alaminos Dr.
Overwhelmingly, the residents that do not live on Benz Rd. were in
favor of the 30 proposed speed cushions, citing mutual concerns about speeding
on the streets.
The Benz Rd.
residents pushed for the diverter, which they believed would curb the cut-through
traffic flow on their street
At the August 27th City Council meeting , City staff recommended
that the speed cushions be installed and the resulting traffic flow studied. However,
several outspoken Benz Rd.
residents appealed to the Council and begged them to install the diverter, even
though the majority of residents favored the speed cushions.
The Council voted to test both. They chose to install the
diverter first, and study the traffic flow for three months. Then, they would
install the speed cushions and test those results after three months.
One week ago the diverter was installed, and since then, the City
has received 330 emails, phone calls and letters complaining about the
diverter. 11 additional letters were in support.
The outcry prompted Mayor Bob Kellar to ask that a special City Council
meeting be held, which took place tonight.
“Our voice didn’t have any input,” said Linda Decker, who was one
of the many of people who had previously stated their opposition to the
The Council members weighed in after 50 people spoke out in
Mayor Pro tem Frank Ferry re-iterated his opposition to traffic
calming measures, saying he wants a resolution to be passed by the council that
insists that speed humps, diverters or gates never be weighed as an
“Every road needs to be used to capacity,” he said, expanding on
the fact that future developments in the LA County unincorporated area will
create more of these situations.
“We certainly needed to respond to so many people who reached out
to us,” said Council member Laurie Ender. “Sometimes what is best for everyone
may not be what you think is best for you.” She continued; “I am not against
putting speed humps into an area.”
Council member Laurene Weste put it frankly; “The diverter was a
test. And I think that the test has already become tested.”
Weste echoed Ender’s call to remove the diverter and install the
speed cushions immediately.
“It’s just very difficult to try and preserve the sanctity of
neighborhoods.” said Marsha McLean.
McLean expressed that she
doesn’t feel the speed cushions would have any effect.
Each Council member did say that they sympathized with the Benz Road
residents, but they needed to find a solution that doesn’t impact the rest of
the community in a negative way.
After discussion, here’s how the council voted:
Ender made a motion to remove the diverter as soon as possible.
The motion passed by unanimous vote.
Ferry made a motion that calls for the re-implementation of the
turn restrictions on Bouquet
Canyon Road and Copper Hill, it passed 3-2 with
Ender and Weste voting no.
Weste made a motion to approve the purchase and installation of
temporary speed cushions in the neighborhoods at a cost of $150,000. If future
traffic evaluations prove to be successful then the residents in that area
could be assessed for the installation of permanent speed cushions if they
chose to have them installed. That motion passed 3-2 with Ferry and McLean voting no.
So now the diverter will be removed, and the temporary speed
cushions will be purchased. Traffic studies will be conducted using the data
collected after the speed cushions are inserted.