Time to Talk

As of late Friday afternoon, the lawsuit brought by two residents of Holly Street against the City alleging improprieties in how the Council changed the parking regulations in the Holly Street corridor was dismissed. In lay terms, the court found no basis to proceed with holding a trial. Even if the facts were as alleged by the plaintiffs — something which the City has and would have disputed — there was no violation of law.

This is a win for our community, in that it eliminates a drain on City finances which can be put to better use.

But it’s also a win for our neighbors who live in the corridor.

Because now the Council can resume discussions which were interrupted by the lawsuit. While changing the no parking rules in the corridor benefited the community as a whole, it also adversely impacted the lives of corridor residents. What can we do to reduce that impact? I’ve asked Mayor Collins and City Manager Jeff Maltbie to put those discussions back on the agenda ASAP.

Various ideas have been suggested, including:

  • buying a couple of homes in the corridor and creating resident-only parking lots;
  • giving homeowners grants to pay for widening their driveway approaches, to make it easier to enter and exit;
  • having the City pay for backyard garbage service, so corridor residents don’t have to put trash bins on the sidewalk (where, unfortunately, some pedestrians push them into the street);
  • giving homeowners grants to create parking pads on their property and relaxing the zoning rules covering on-site parking for residential properties in the corridor;
  • study whether or not truck and bus traffic can be banned or restricted in the corridor;
  • simplifying or automating parking permit issuance for deliveries, construction and maintenance vehicles in the corridor; and,
  • studying reducing the corridor speed limit from 30 to 25 MPH.

If you have any other ideas I’d be interested in hearing them.

Note: Ricardo Martinez, who commented on this post, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

8 thoughts on “Time to Talk”

  1. Ricardo Martinez

    Mr. Olbert,
    For the record:

    1) I was never served with any of the City’s responsive documents;
    2) Prior to the suit and even during, residents tried numerous times to work with City Council to agree on meaningful remediations to lessen the impacts on residents. The City was never willing in good faith to come to the table. Instead, we were labeled as “insane” and pretty much called out as “rabble rousers” simply because we did not agree with the City’s approach to Holly Street;
    3) Residents have consistently requested that the City re route heavy trucks and buses onto Brittain for travel between Industrial and El Camino. However, you stated that you did not think this was a good idea??? What possible justification do you possess for continuing to impose a nuisance on residents? Would you do this to residents on Crestview whom you went out of your way to protect to prevent the land swap deal?;
    4) Holly residents should never have had to resort to any type of litigation to get the City Council’s attention. The City should have tried to work with residents from the beginning. Instead, the City simply imposed its will without any meaningful input. The remediations you proposed in your “victory message” could have been revealed to residents and imposed simultaneously when the restripping occurred. Instead, like thieves in the night the Public Works Department during time when residents are sleeping, performed the restripping and basically shoved the changes down residents throats without any discussion;
    5) The City created a danger by restripping the street because it has encouraged more speeding. While the Council pats itself on the back for allegedly “curing” the traffic problem on Holly Street, it created a further issue re speeding. There are many children who live on our street and many new families who chose to live on Holly who are now out at significant risk by cars, trucks, and buses frequently and substantially exceeding the speed limit on Holly Street. I have also seen many trucks and buses cross the median while traveling north and south down the street because there is simply not enough room on the street. Imagine if a speeding bus, truck, or car were to encounter each other at the same time when a bus or truck, due to narrow lanes, is slightly over the median. The fact that it it not yet occurre is not a reflection of a “job well done” by the City Council, it is merely a matter of good luck. However, as we all know good luck is fleeting. I have pictures and video to back-up my assertions, what do you have?;
    6) One or two days of measuring traffic or even a week is insufficient time to really say you’ve competed a scientific study with irrefutable data. I have yet to see any one person walking out street or observing traffic to really study traffic patterns as well as traffic speed. Again, if no one from your staff has not told you that trucks, buses, and shuttles are a bad idea on Holly, how would you know? Come see for yourself; and
    7) Let’s tell the truth and let folks know about the all the large scale project the City wants to push through and that will affect the entire San Carlos community. An Orchard Supply, a 250 room hotel, a 100 ft building, a school all right smack dab near the very street you felt you did a good job in improving. There is also the transit village. What will all that do to the improved traffic on Holly Street when all is said and done. Everything you think you just did to “improve” traffic will all be undone. I am sure you impressed the developers with your ability to act against residents and impose your will, but long term what will happen? Have you truly studied the impacts of all your proposed projects and even the ones currently in progress? Where are the studies? Other residents have requeste them, yet none are produced.

    Those are just a few of the many facts that do exist. So you tell me and the other residents of San Carlos, have you really been above board with everyone and disclosed all the facts? Or just the ones you feel favor you? Makes me wonder what else you are failing to tell residents and if you really operate with the greater community’s interest at heart or just your friends?

    Good luck with the upcoming election. My vote and the votes of those in my community may not matter much to you, but you certainly will not have it. If you end-up winning abother term, so be it. I hope you will feel fulfilled in leaving behind a legacy that has done more harm than good. All the best to you!

    1. Mr. Martinez,

      I won’t get into a point by point rebuttal of what you wrote in your comment, because most of it was adequately covered in the court record. But I will make a few minor points, numbered to match the sections of your comment.

      To be clear, if I don’t comment on a point it doesn’t mean I agree with it.

      1) Notice of the City’s second demurrer was mailed to both Mr. Martinez and Ms. Cabrera. The “notice of proof” documenting that was submitted to the court, and is part of the record. Plaintiffs had 30 days to respond to the City’s second demurrer, a window which expired last Friday afternoon.

      Given that all of this is also available online (http://openaccess1.sanmateocourt.org/openaccess/civil/casereport.asp?casenumber=530260&casetype=CIV&courtcode=A) I find it odd the plaintiffs claim they were not aware of the progress of the case, including the City’s responses.

      3) No one on the Council supported the Crestview land swap more strongly than I did, nor worked harder to bring it to fruition. It was wrong for the Council not to allow the matter to go before voters, as the law allowed.

      As to heavy trucks and buses, I’ve said in the past that I’m willing to see the matter studied. I am not willing to commit to doing it because (a) I want to understand the consequences of what we’d be doing and (b) I’m not sure we have the legal authority to do so.

      4) There were numerous hearings and discussions regarding the changes made to the corridor before the matter was voted on by the Council. Anyone interested in that can consult the City’s records.

      I can’t speak for the Council, but I believe it was very much interested in taking up doing some things to offset the effects the no parking rule change had. I know I certainly was, and I was mayor at the time, and hence had a big role in setting the agenda.

      The lawsuit interrupted that. Had the lawsuit not been brought, the discussion about possible actions would have taken place six months ago.

      In any event, as the title of my post says, it’s time to move on…and have those discussions.

      7) The proposed projects, either in detail or in general or both, were studied as part of the City’s recent General Plan update (for those who don’t know, the General Plan specifies the basic “ground rules” for land use in the City, and provides the basis for our zoning ordinances, project review criteria, etc). As required by law, there was an environmental impact report prepared as part of that process. Individuals may or may not agree with all the changes that were made (I certainly don’t). But they are lawful, and binding until changed.

      One of the reasons I (and I suspect my colleagues, as well) voted to change the no parking rules in the corridor was precisely in recognition of the way traffic through the corridor had evolved and was going to evolve.

      The Council registered its displeasure over the proposed new high school with the Sequoia Union High School District. I have also lobbied both the Council and staff to make zoning changes in the area immediately surrounding the corridor to ensure it is not over-developed. In the case of the school there is little, by law, the City can do; the District is a co-equal branch of government. But what we can do we are doing. As regards commercial development, I was assured the existing rules (e.g., the need to provide sufficient on-site parking) would constrain overly intense projects. I continue to monitor that situation.

      Final thoughts: changing the no parking rules in the corridor was the latest in a long series of actions taken by the Council over the years to address the consequences of Holly Street being one of the primary entry points for San Carlos. Others include creating the current intersection at Industrial (two left turn lanes were added to encourage traffic to go south to Brittan), building the Brittan Avenue overpass for the railroad and constructing the Brittan Avenue 101 interchange. Overall, our community has spent millions of dollars trying to move traffic out of the corridor.

      I look forward to the Council discussing ways to offset at least some of the effect the no parking change had on our neighbors in the corridor.

  2. Teri Shugart

    I always LOVE your blog entries. It makes me feel more connected to what’s going on in this city.

    Only one little problem – it’s layPERSON, not layMAN. Or, “in non-legaleze,” Yes, I am the town gender language watcher!

  3. Oops, you got me on that one, Teri! My gender bias programming was showing :). I’ve edited the post to correct it.

  4. Petar Blanusa

    Thank you for your notification. I am still not sure why conversations couldn’t have continued all these months but that’s now “water under the bridge”. You should add in the mitigation measures redirecting of truck and bus traffic away from Holly, automatization of parking permit issuance for deliveries, construction and maintenance trucks for residents, reduction of speed limit. Please have staff notify us with more detailed proposals that you already outlines as well. All are quite good and usef for both the residents and the city.

  5. I support investigation into all possible options, because I do believe the city needs to do what it can to alleviate the pain felt by the residents on that corridor.

    Having said that, I also support making that corridor no-parking at all times, not just during the weekday. Traffic is negatively impacted at all times because that road changes from a 1-lane to a 2-lane road at different days/times. Drivers are sometimes loathe to enter the right lane when they shouldn’t be, and at other times are forced out of the right lane by a parked car, necessitating an abrupt merge. Neither situation is good for a steady traffic flow.

    1. A fair point, Jason, and one I’ve heard from others as well.

      Personally, I don’t want to make the corridor “no parking any time”. To deal with the alternating rules I’d like to see some kind of active lighted signage put in place. Something like a sign with flashing yellow lights which lights up when traffic has to merge down into one lane in each direction.

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