Saturday, October 8, 2022

By Chris Frost
Tri County Sentry
Oxnard– The Public Works & Transportation Committee’s Speed Hump approval continues with the folks who live by Speed Humps that typically drive over the street.
Public Works Director Michael Wolfe noted that in places where cutting across town is not an issue, the people living on the street are impacted the most.
“It should be a community-driven process,” he said. “Because we are putting Speed Humps on residential streets, we’re putting it in front of two people’s homes. Some people don’t like that and think it decreases the value of their home or it precludes them from parking in front of their house. They may get debris in front of their home because the sweeper may not have effectively swept there.”
He said it’s not just the noise; it’s someone’s property.
“It’s quality of life issues,” he said. “The Speed Humps have to go in front of somebody’s property. We’re not going to put it in front of their driveway. We try to pick the property lines, so it straddles different properties. In my 20-plus years, I’d say that not everyone wants a Speed Hump.”
He said it’s process driven, meaning that if certain residents on the street agree to install them, it’s because of potential impacts on local residents.
Committee Chairman Bert Perello asked about the impacts of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access, and Wolfe said someone with a spinal issue, for example, who travels down a Speed Hump street every day may experience a problem.
“These aren’t devices that are easily navigated,” Wolfe said. “They do create some level of potential discomfort on purpose to slow them down. If someone has a higher sense of sensitivity to these types of things, it could be a huge issue. They live on this street, bought a property on this street, and now after the fact, we installed Speed Humps, and they could have an issue with that.”
Perello noted that people using the streets as a shortcut will be trained that there is another way around.
“In the past, with respect to how Speed Bumps were put in place, was there a policy or practice in Oxnard,” he asked. “The reason for this meeting is to create something new, so we’re not shooting from the hip,” he said. “Joe Blow or Mary Martinez comes in and asks for speed bumps; she knows somebody on the Council, so she gets them.”
City Manager Alex Nguyen said there is no policy about Speed Humps currently in place within the City of Oxnard.
“We could get into what the criteria would be, and that would help,” he said.
Wolfe said the minimum process would include traffic volume between 500 and 2,000 vehicles per day, a residential street with a posted speed limit of 25-30 miles per hour, and the streets should be a minimum of 1,000 feet.
“We’re trying to address residential locations, not places that have been designed for major traffic,” he said.
The City will send out traffic data collection tubes, he said, which is the typical process.
“We don’t discern if I have to go to Home Depot 50 times on the weekend,” Wolfe said. “They don’t count me as one; they count me as 50.”
He said the minimum street length is part of the engineering process.
“There is a lot of science and engineering that went into this,” he said. “A lot of studies have been done. Speed Humps have been around for a long time. We’re trying to create an engineering solution rather than a knee-jerk reaction that is not helping the situation and creating a bigger issue.”
Wolfe said the best method is deploying the Speed Humps in groups of three, meaning they’ll need some distance to have a group of three.
“We’re looking at streets that are at least 1,000 feet long,” he said. “Not Cul de Sac streets, not smaller interior residential streets. We’re looking at streets that are at least 1,000 feet long so that we can get that result. We can space out the Speed Humps in such a fashion that it actually drives the result. Otherwise, if you put them too close together, or you only have one or two, you don’t solve the problem. You create a bigger problem.”
He said if someone on the street submits an application for a Speed Hump, they’ll check the minimum criteria and go to the next step, the analysis step.
Perello asked if curved streets count, and Wolfe said they’re irrelevant.
“Curved streets change and deflect straight lines and are a traffic-calming measure,” he said. “Curved streets typically don’t have as high speed because of that.”
Wolfe said the analysis employs the same state requirements when establishing speed limits.
“That’s called the 85th percentile, and it’s very complex,” he said. “The easiest way to do it; is 85 percent of the people we have seen going down the street are doing a certain speed or below. This is how we want to establish criteria or analysis. Put the tubes out for 24 hours, measuring all the traffic that goes by there; we look at that, and if the 85th percentile is nine miles an hour over the posted speed limit or more, that meets the analysis criteria.”
Once the application passes the second criterion, he said the City enters the go or no-go decision phase, which involves the Police and Fire departments.
“Now, we have Police and Fire to say this is on the very edge of our response time, and any more time would be detrimental to their vision,” he said. “Or, they can say, this is a place where we can address a potential delay, so go ahead and move forward. We typically meet with them, it’s not hard and fast, and we try to come up with solutions. The engineering world has reacted to this in the last 15 years and came up with the Speed Cushions. Before that, it wasn’t a thing. We work with Police and Fire to provide a solution that fits everything.”
Committee Member Mayor John Zaragoza commented the City also works with multiple departments through the Speed Hump process.
“I take off my transportation and engineering hat and put on my ER Hat because they are in my same department, or I put on my streets hat,” Wolfe said. “We certainly don’t want to create an issue for another division in Public Works; I would have to solve that one separately.”
He said the streets division will offer input like if a possible site is subject to a lot of flooding.
“We want to hear that,” he said. “ER may say, if you can move it a couple of feet because this is where a person typically puts their trash can, or whatever, we want to hear that.”
Zaragoza said the big trucks that service the City are affected by driving over the Speed Humps.
“They are heavy,” Wolfe said. “Even just routinely driving them down the street, they’ll wear out. Think about driving that over a Speed Hump; creating that jolting or change in vertical deflection that puts more wear and tear on those mechanical devices and significantly more cost.”
This story will continue on October 14.
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