May 11, 2011
Update May 17, 2011:
At the meeting described below, several residents complained that Bacigalupi Drive is the worst for speeders – possibly because it is so wide near Harwood Road. Yesterday an electronic device was placed in this stretch of the road which displays how fast cars are travelling. It would be great if this slowed traffic down – thank you, Town of Los Gatos!!
Until tonight, I’d never been to a traffic calming meeting. It was anything but “calm”! Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Director Todd Capurso did a great job running the gathering despite strong feelings and loud voices.
Prior to tonight, there had been 2 other meetings just for residents along Belwood Gateway. Apparently they had a large number of signers on a petition requesting that the town of Los Gatos consider measures to slow traffic down along that road, which joins up with Almond Blossom and creates a cut through to Camden Avenue. Neither I nor other area residents were aware of the prior meetings because only Belwood Gateway residents were invited since it was that street which had requested the meeting. (Lesson # 1 of the night: if you want traffic calming measures taken in your area, get a petition signed by residents and present it to the town.)
Since ONE of the previously proposed solutions was to partially barricade Belwood Gateway at Harwood and that would impact nearby streets, those of us in the “impacted areas” were invited to tonight’s meeting. My family and I live on Bacigalupi Drive and we would definitely be impacted if that road were blocked, so I was made aware of this ongoing process recently.
Clearly, the issue is not just along one street, though perhaps Belwood Gateway has the biggest problem due to the “shortcut” being taken. Almost unanimously, the 50 or more people present indicated that the problems are these:
- Many people DRIVE TOO FAST in the neighborhood
- Motorists IGNORE STOP SIGNS entirely or merely roll through them
Other issues were raised too, such as left turns onto courts which resulted in vehicles being on the wrong side of the road at the end of the turn or folks on Harwood Road having great difficulty backing out of their driveways, concerns about areas without sidewalks and all sorts of somewhat reckless driving. Soon neighbors were discussing speeding along Westhill and other roads too. (Also present was Los Gatos/ Monte Sereno Police Officer Sam Wonnell, who once lived in the Belwood of Los Gatos area himself. He explained that they need residents to tell them when to be present to catch speeders and those who ignore stop signs but that of course they can’t always be here.)
Todd patiently recounted the chronology of events leading to tonight’s meeting and explained, over and over, that at this meeting a solution was not going to be decided, but instead what would be firmed up was simply what residents would vote on in the future. Belwood Gateway residents would be able to vote on adding a stop sign and speed bumps. Nearby neighbors would be allowed to vote on whether or not a “triangle” could be placed at the intersection of Harwood and Belwood Gateway.
The meeting began at 6:30 and was scheduled to end at 8pm. At 8:05 the crowd was beginning to leave and many who remained began to speak so loudly that Todd could not hear questions being posed (nor answer without having to yell). It was dissolving. I left at that point. It was nice to see so many neighbors (whom I normally see only while out walking our black lab, Bella) and to learn what the process is for requesting that traffic patterns be evaluated by the town and local residents.
Now we wait for the ballots – it will probably take a month or two for them to be created and mailed out. As for me, I’m all for more speed bumps and stop signs, but I hope that they don’t block off part of that one road…it will, in my opinion, only encourage drivers to take alternate routes. I’d love to see traffic calmed throughout Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont. If only civilians could give tickets!