Council: Traffic problems continue
to plague SPHS area residents
Published:  November 21, 2014

Traffic problems continue to plague residents in neighborhoods surrounding Santa Paula High School who at Monday’s meeting questioned why the City Council only designated one street for a parking district and councilman questioned the lack of notes from a joint council/school district committee.

Several speakers voiced their frustration with the situation at the November 17 meeting, where they were told other streets are still being considered for parking restrictions. 

Questions and complaints about traffic and parking issues in the high school area first surfaced in late 2013, but it wasn’t until September that the council adopted resident-only parking restrictions for Palm Court, which the council believed was the most impacted, especially during sports events and on weekends.

The wider parking district presented to the council in September came after surveys, neighborhood meetings and public input that designated several potential parking districts, but they opted to start with Palm Court.

The decision was criticized by various speakers at Monday’s meeting who told the council they are being forced to park blocks away from their homes and put up with blocked driveways among other disruptions. 

Longtime East Santa Paula Street resident Lois Zsarnay, who lives across the street from the rambling campus, told the council, “The traffic, the noise, the nuisance is unbearable,” and she asked that the council adopt a wider parking district. 

She also noted that parking enforcement has been lax with an officer telling her he was reluctant to ticket those from out of town.

Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez said the guidelines of the Palm Court parking district are still being finalized and noted the city is working with the school district to launch a shared-costs traffic study to address various issues.

Campus construction which temporarily eliminated parking spaces and added worker cars as well as the growing population of the school have added to parking problems at the historic campus located on Santa Paula and 6th streets.

Resident Kyle Campbell said he has a law enforcement background,  he suggested the city create a safety corridor around the school; with adoption of the Palm Court parking district the council has “only pushed the problem from a 5 mph zone to a 35 mph zone... “

He also urged police enforcement of traffic rules to deal with the increased traffic congestion in the area.  

Councilman Martin Hernandez said the study should also address safety issues such as crosswalks and crossing guards as well as parking.  

Hernandez noted that “One council member,” serving on the school district/council joint committee said in September that the two entities, “had a very positive meeting on these issues and that he would provide notes... I have not seen notes and I’m not sure if other council has,” minutes he said should be provided. 

The high school said Councilman Ralph Fernandez should be doing more to address the parking issue, which the council had had to deal with - and take blame for - by default.

Mayor Rick Cook said all schools in the city have traffic issues that must be addressed and he urged residents to continue to stay involved after he, Gonzales and Fernandez end their terms of office.

Effective December 1 Cook, who stepped down and Fernandez and Gonzales, who were defeated earlier this month in their bids for reelection will be replaced on the council by Jenny Crosswhite, Ginger Gherardi and John Procter. 

Gonzales made a motion to receive and file the report, “And pass the ball to the incoming council... “ 

The resolution for the Palm Court parking district is expected to return to the council at the December 15 meeting.

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