Some 20 parents, residents and activists were gathered at the corner of Fillmore Street and Herrick Avenue in Pacoima demanding more traffic safety, and reduced speeds in the neighborhood.
“We want more visible stop signs, crossing guards,” said resident Christian Robinson. He complains that cars zoom by at that crossroad and others nearby, endangering kids and parents who cross to get to three schools.
“They’re running stop signs. We are an accident waiting to happen,” Robinson said.
Down the road along Herrick Avenue is Vaughn G3 Academy, a primary school. Behind it on DeFoe Avenue is Pacoima Charter Enrichment Academy. A few more blocks down, across from Van Nuys Boulevard, is Pacoima Charter Elementary School.
Before 8 a.m., and after 1 p.m., these streets are filled with parents in cars and those walking their kids to and from these schools.
“We need speed bumps. That would definitely slow down traffic,” said Mariana Acosta, whose two kids attend Pacoima Charter Elementary School. She took part in the demonstration.
“The stop signs are here, and (the drivers) don’t respect them,” Acosta said.
Clearly marked “stop” and “school” signs are visible along Herrick Avenue, and other nearby streets.
Acosta said crossing guards would also be welcomed in this area.
There are crossing guards at the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Herrick Avenue, but not at the streets near the other schools.
“Nothing’s going to change unless some kid gets hurt or killed,” complained resident Paul Arriaga.
The protest, on June 15, was organized by the group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). The group seeks more 4-way stops in the area; speed bumps to reduce traffic speed, and reduce traffic congestion primarily along Herrick Avenue, where home owners say they are “trapped” during school drop-off and pick-up times.
“When I pull out, I almost hit somebody,” said Claudia Cruz, a resident who has “trouble” getting in and out of her house. “They (parents) block every street. They need to enforce parking rules.”
A representative of Los Angeles Unified School District board member Monica Ratliff was present at the demonstration, but said she was not authorized to make a statement to the media and limited comments to supporting the residents’ efforts.
When the San Fernando Sun/El Sol asked organizer Alex Acuña if ACCE had raised those issues to Los Angeles City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes — who represents Pacoima and other parts of the northeast San Fernando Valley — he said they had not.
Acuña said they had invited someone from Fuentes’ office, via email, 20 minutes before the start of the protest, which began at 6:30 p.m. But group representatives said they had not spoken or communicated with any other city official or agency.
Los Angeles city transportation officials announced earlier this month they now have the funding to build several dozen “speed humps” in the upcoming year, reviving a popular program originated in 1994 that was discontinued amid budget cuts in 2009.
Even though the city halted the program, requests continued to pour in. More than 800 requests were made between July 2013 and this March, city officials said.
The fiscal 2016-17 budget approved by the L.A City Council this month includes $540,000 to resume speed bump construction, but did not contain funding for the staffing needed to oversee the projects, transportation officials told the Los Angeles City Council’s Transportation Committee.
Transportation officials now propose taking half of the construction dollars — about $270,000 — to use toward the salaries of employees who would operate the speed hump program.
Transportation Department General Manager Seleta Reynolds said it could take about six months to hire the needed employees and do the outreach to restart the program.
Transportation officials said they plan to do 30 speed hump projects in the upcoming year, with two “priority” projects in each of the 15 council districts in order to promote the program citywide. In the second year, the projects would go back to being prioritized based on need, which would be decided by either the traffic volume or car speeds along the streets.
The speed hump projects traditionally have been funded with state gas tax money, which at the program’s height covered installations in as many as 200 locations in one year. Between 1994 and 2009, the program funded 3,700 speed humps at more than 1,450 sites, city officials said.