Letter: Our Crosswalk Issues

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I am a Realtor at Coldwell Banker South Laguna, at the corner of South Coast Highway and Eagle Rock Way. This is the most dangerous crosswalk in Laguna. I have seen pedestrians die in the arms of our mortgage broker in our office. Multiple crashes, multiple injuries. Far more close calls from drivers racing into Laguna at 50 mph than any other crosswalk in town! Not stopping, not seeing, not caring. The crosswalk at Aster Street and Coast Highway is second worst. I have landed on the hood of a car while the pedestrian light was in full bloom.

Around 10 years ago, I coordinated with now retired Sergeant Faust to enact a “crosswalk sting ” at my office. We had nine motorcycle cops from Laguna and Irvine stationed at various locations on both sides of Coast Highway. An officer in a Glaring Elvis costume would, at his risk, walk back and forth on the crosswalk with the pedestrian light flashing “OK”. He had a radio, and also pointed to the multiple violators. The officers took it from there.

The number of violations was stunning! In just over three hours, Laguna officers wrote over 50 (expensive) violations. And that’s with a cop in the crosswalk. Revenue for LBPD was well up that afternoon. I’m guessing close to $30,000. And the officer in his Elvis costume only barely survived.

I say this because it’s well past due for more ‘stings’ at our very dangerous crosswalks. I cross Coast Highway twice a day. I see constant violations. A sting will easily compensate the extra labor time for our officers. And then some! We cannot ignore the dangers of our very risky crosswalks. If you haven’t done it, take a few trips across the street during busy times. And wear a good luck charm, or flashing lights.

On that note, we also deal with an aggravatingly loud parade of multi-million dollar sports cars and motorcycles going to, or coming from Cars and Coffee in San Clemente on Saturday mornings. And our weekends are filled with a parade of horribly loud vehicles that can be heard up on Top of the World. What would it take for an Officer to stand at Aster and Coast Highway with a Decibel meter and maybe three motorcycle officers positioned at strategic locations? Again, the revenue would more than compensate the labor big time! And slowly build a reputation that our sleepy village will not tolerate the abuses of too many enormous egos with too much money.

An officer in a car has to be in the right place at the right time. An officer somewhat hidden, standing at a crosswalk, with two or three backup motorcycles, will score violators at an average of five or 10 per hour. I’ve seen it done. And we could use the extra revenue.

Public safety is their primary objective, right? This is low cost, high return.

Tom Berndt, Laguna Beach

3 COMMENTS

  1. There’s a ’50s Vintage photograph posted to NextDoor that shows five lanes of traffic in front of Victor Hugos on South Coast Highway (PCH), the hottest car is a cream colored Plymouth with Yellow Cal plates. Ralph Story could do a show about Victor Hugo’s and Orange Julius for his series “Things that Aren’t Here Anymore” (back then Huell Howser was wearing diapers).

    But one thing hasn’t changed, the Mission of Caltrans to reduce traffic delay-time and move cars fast. Nope nothing has changed on that road for 70 years. Think that’s inappropriate for Laguna? Wonder why folks get creamed in crosswalks? Our mobility plan for 2021 needs an update, if we want better safer mobility through Laguna than Robert Moses’ Interstate Plan, then stop planning like 1913 and start planning like 2030. The new 2016 OCTA PCH Corridor Study Executive Summary shows traffic calming techniques to slow speeding traffic on Glenneyre, the same techniques could be used on PCH to protect pedestrians. See page 15.
    http://www.octa.net/pdf/OCTA_PCH_Corridor_Study_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

    Laguna is seven miles long trisected by two arterial freeways, if OCTA/Caltrans cannot pull-off an appropriate mobility plan for Laguna Beach, then Lagunatics should do so ourselves.

  2. Thank you Tom. This Eagle Rock Way interaction pedestrian traffic has increased along with all others in South Laguna and must be looked at by the City and Cal Trans as safety is serious issue. The City is parking police cars all over town and thankfully some in South Laguna to trigger a police presence and they should park one there more regularly. And yes, ste out an start ticketing these crazy drivers racing though our town at record speeds to get to Newport Beach and beyond. This isn’t a freeway. We have walkers, bikers, parents with kids/strollers, merchant deliveries and people looking for parking to get to the beaches. Slow this commuter traffic down. In Joseph, Oregon they have a large sign as you enter town. It says something like “welcome – our town is heaven to us, please don’t drive like hell through it!” We need a message like this too. Maybe brightly painted on both side of the overpass near Aliso Beach even. Get creative Laguna Beach and make a strong statement! Thanks!

  3. Well said. I believe an Officer at a corner, with a Decibel meter, and two back up motorcycles, will not only slow everyone down, but also make it clear that too many vehicles make too much noise. Dana Point has also made their City a Quiet Zone. It became necessary. I heard another expensive car yesterday that sounded like rifle fire. This can be heard at Top of the World !

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