Riverside Drive to remain two-way
LEAH BRUMER, left, and Rob Scott, proponents of turning Riverside Drive from Boyes Boulevard to Craig Avenue into a one-way street, compare notes at Wednesday’s SVCAC meeting.
The Riverside Drive residents between Boyes Boulevard and Craig Avenue won’t be getting their one-way street as soon as some had hoped, because the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC) decided Wednesday night to call instead for a study of traffic patterns in the larger neighborhood.
This despite the fact that more than one person pointed out there’s no money to do a study.
Commissioner Yvonne Bowers said, “more study leads to more study which leads to more study … And the county doesn’t have the money.” Bowers, nonetheless, voted for the study.
With an overflow audience in Sonoma’s Community Meeting Room, 23 local residents addressed the SVCAC with more comments against the proposed one-way street. Looking at a show of hands after people spoke, it appeared there were more opponents to the one-way street than proponents.
Leah Brumer, one of the organizers of the one-way proposal, told the SVCAC that organizers had looked at various solutions to slowing traffic on the narrow street that has no sidewalks and few rights-of-way.
Tom O’Kane, deputy director of the county’s Public Works and Transportation Department, told the panel that the proposal under consideration was for an 11-foot-wide traffic lane in the middle with defined pedestrian and bike areas on either side of the traffic lane.
After one commissioner called it rural, O’Kane disagreed. “It’s not rural. The density is urbanized,” he said.
O’Kane added that a 2010 traffic count showed that during peak hours, Riverside Drive had 60 cars an hour northbound in the morning and 103 cars an hour in the afternoon. He pointed out that Railroad Avenue was better adapted for increased traffic loads, but he said it would be hard to predict how much Riverside Drive traffic would switch to other side streets such as Barrett, Comstock, Lucas and Clayton.
Judy Kern, who lives on Barrett Avenue, told the panel she opposed the proposal and, in 10 days walking the neighborhood, collected 191 signatures of others who were likewise opposed.
“This would have a huge impact on the neighborhood,” Kern said, suggesting traffic calming devices instead. She said one transportation website she looked at suggested that speeds actually increase on one-way streets.
Katy Byrne, another opponent, said that while she agrees there is aproblem, making Riverside a one-way street is “an accident waiting to happen. The neighbors need to be included and the plan needs to be thought through.”
On the other hand, Mario Castillo, who lives on Kelsey Court, said his sister lives on Riverside and has to walk her children to school at El Verano. “I feel bad for those who feel that this (proposal) is an inconvenience, but do we want to wait until an accident happens?” he said.
Kate Williams, who lives on Cherry Street, said she thought there’d be increased traffic on her street. “It’s a great first step,” she said. “But I’d like to see everything made one-way,” suggesting that a system of alternating one-way streets might move traffic efficiently.
At first the commissioners were split on the one-way proposal. Cynthia Wood told her fellow commissioners, “It’s about children. It’s about pedestrian safety.” And she said she couldn’t believe how narrow the street was and that she would support the one-way proposal.
But others called for a study of the entire area between Riverside Drive and Railroad Avenue.
Commissioner Garry Baker made a motion to allow development of the one-way proposal, but for a study to be done in the rest of the neighborhood. He suggested other traffic calming devices and a comprehensive plan for the neighborhood, “a one-way pattern in the entire neighborhood.”
But Baker was coaxed into amending the proposal to instead ask for more study, which caused alternate commissioner Ditty Vella to ask, “Who’s going to pay for the study? There’s no money for a study.”
On an 8-0 advisory vote, with one recusal, the panel approved asking for a comprehensive traffic plan for the entire neighborhood. The recommendation goes to the Board of Supervisors.