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Traffic, parking takes center stage at latest council meeting

Transportation was an ongoing theme at Claremont City Council’s meeting on December 9 where city staff presented two proposed ordinances, one addressing the continuing issue of speeding drivers on city streets and the other focusing on parking restrictions for electric vehicles.

The 2014 Speed Survey, as well as an amendment to the Claremont Municipal Code designating exclusive spaces for parking and charging of electric vehicles in city-owned and operated facilities, warranted much discussion.

“I have to wear this on my own front property at night,” said Claremont resident Eddie Sison, wearing a headlamp and reflective vest. “It’s both sad and scary for residents of American Avenue to have to take precautions like this to be safe in their own front yard.”

A portion of American Avenue, in addition to segments of five other Claremont streets, was the recipient of traffic calming measures installed over a one-year period, coordinated through the city’s Capital Improvement Project program at the request of the council in October 2012.

During that time, councilmembers had reviewed a 2012 Citywide Speed Survey, an evaluation of the posted speeds on 22 street segments within Claremont.

Of these, 11 were recommended for an increase in the posted speed limit, and 11 were recommended to retain limits as currently posted. The council approved the retention of the speed limits on the 11 streets where no increases were proposed and directed city staff to review possible traffic-calming measures in an effort to reduce drivers’ speeds.

City staff installed traffic-calming measures on 10 streets, four of which were later classified as local roadways, including Radcliffe Drive (Mills Avenue to Indian Hill), Scottsbuff Drive (Mountain Avenue to Indian Hill), Scripps Drive (Towne Avenue to Mountain) and Scripps Drive (Mountain Avenue to Indian Hill). These streets now have a posted 25 mph speed limit.

The remaining six streets including American Avenue (Indian Hill to Mills), College Avenue (First Street to Arrow Highway), Mountain Avenue (San Jose to Arrow Highway), Mountain Avenue (Base Line to Thompson Creek), Pomello Drive (Mills to Padua) and San Jose Avenue (Mills to College) were resurveyed to determine if driver speeds had been reduced and the speed limits could remain posted.

Unfortunately, the traffic-calming measures had little impact on the 85th percentile speed and were not significant enough to allow for a reduced speed limit.

The exception was College Avenue (First and Arrow Highway), where it was recommended the existing 25 mph speed limit be retained. On the remaining five streets, the findings of the speed survey dictate an increase in the posted speed.

Claremont City Engineer Loretta Mustafa went on to explain that both the city council and the Traffic and Transportation Commission had inquired as to whether it was possible to reclassify some of the recently surveyed streets as “local roadways.” Roadway classifications include arterials, collectors and local roadways. The later classification would allow a posting speed limit of 25 mph as long as the street meets the California Vehicle Code definition of either a “Residence District” or “Business District.”

City staff analyzed the street segments and determined that four of the five segments don’t meet the criteria for a local roadway, while the fifth is already designated as such.

“I’m frustrated on this issue,” Corey Calaycay said to Ms. Mustafa during her presentation. “The rules here concern me and, as much as you say it’s not for us to be subjective, I view a lot of this as subjective. In the way these streets are designated, it’s kind of willy-nilly.”

In the end, the city council directed staff to look into additional traffic-calming measures and unanimously voted to introduce an ordinance amending the Claremont Municipal Code related to the speed limits on certain streets. They also directed city staff to pursue street reclassification of American Avenue, San Jose Avenue between College and Mills, Mountain Avenue between San Jose and Arrow Highway, and College Way between Williams and Piedmont Mesa.

Parking in the Village is at a premium, and drivers of electric vehicles were given a bonus earlier this year when the city installed electric vehicle (EV) charging stations with two adjacent parking spaces, both in the parking lot west of city hall and in the Village West parking structure on First Street, west of Indian Hill. These stations are part of the ChargePoint system, a network of EV charging stations where system subscribers can access a database of charging station locations and the availability of those spaces in each location.

Data from ChargePoint shows the Claremont stations have been steadily increasing in usage. In February, the number of unique users was at 16, increasing to 58 in July, and most recently to 78 in the month of November.

Director of Community Services Brian Desatnik explained to council during the meeting that the city is not currently able to enforce parking restrictions on EV parking spaces as they haven’t been designated by city ordinance or resolution for the exclusive purpose of parking and charging an electric vehicle as required by the government code.

Councilmembers changed that on Tuesday with an unanimous vote introducing an ordinance amending the Claremont Municipal Code, designating parking spaces in city-owned and operated parking facilities for the sole purpose of parking and charging electric vehicles. In addition, the council adopted a resolution designating the existing EV parking spaces to be used for the sole purpose of parking and charging a vehicle and authorized the city engineer to designated additional spaces should there be a need for more.

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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