First published in the March 24 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
In an effort to alleviate traffic congestion and address pedestrian safety concerns near school sites, the La Cañada Flintridge Public Works and Traffic Commission approved a recommendation to modify and install turn signs and is further reviewing how to improve traffic conditions at La Cañada Elementary.
City staff presented their findings and recommendations to the panel during a meeting March 16 that focused mainly on Foothill Boulevard near Oak Grove Drive, an area that includes entrances to St. Francis and La Cañada high schools’ parking lots and Crestview Preparatory School.
Farhad Iranitalab, the city’s traffic engineer, said he recommended a new sign restricting left turns be placed on the right-hand side of La Cañada High School’s southern driveway at Oak Grove Drive.
Also, he recommended signs be installed prohibiting left turns from the schools’ driveways onto Foothill Boulevard during drop-off times, from 7 to 9 a.m., and pick-up times, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Another proposal from Iranitalab was to repaint the stop line and paint the curb red at the intersection of Cross Street and Tulip Tree Lane at the rear entrance of Palm Crest Elementary “to eliminate parking at that area so people who are coming out of Tulip have the ability to go through without any issues.”
The panel voted 4-1 in favor of repainting and new signage, but disagreed with one part of the traffic engineer’s assessment. In his report, Iranitalab said that, based on his field observations during drop-off and pick-up times, there was no need to add a “keep clear” pavement marking near the entrance of the Child Educational Center because it is between two other major entrances that already have the pavement markings.
The commissioners asked that city staff reevaluate the application of a “keep clear” pavement marking at the driveway.
Traffic on the eastern portion of Foothill Boulevard, known as “Michigan Hill,” has been an ongoing issue, and Commissioner Kati Rubinyi suggested that the city also investigate a solution that would have fewer vehicles on the road.
“I think every little incremental solution just has to be thrown at this because it’s just intractable,” she said. “The only way it’s going to be better is if fewer people drive, and that is especially hard for (the Child Educational Center) because people are bringing babies… The configuration of the streets and intersections and everything is really an intractable problem. I mean, really the only hope is fewer people driving and more people walking.”
City staff was also advised to consider the implementation of a crossing guard at Lasheart Drive and Salisbury Road for families walking to La Cañada Elementary.
Commissioner Arun Jain expressed a desire to evaluate each school site individually and work with the community and administrators on the issues.
“To fit all this into one discussion is not justice to the schools. We should evaluate individually all these issues, have a joint meeting with the schools to solve some of these problems,” he said.
Pat DeChellis, La Cañada Flintridge’s public works director, said such a task would be too much of an undertaking for city staff and said it would be best to focus on one school. The city had previously worked with the community to address traffic and safety concerns at Paradise Canyon Elementary.
DeChellis told the commission that he is scheduled to meet with La Cañada Unified School District officials to discuss Palm Crest Elementary, which is currently going through major modifications.
With the district having a plan regarding PCR and the city having already tackled issues at PCY, the commissioners requested that staff investigate and seek input from the community regarding pedestrian safety and traffic at LCE.