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Cerritos City Council Meeting Minutes

MINUTES OF A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CERRITOS
HELD AUGUST 25, 2009

CALL TO ORDER

The special meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m. in the Sierra Room of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos, California.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The assembly recited the salute to the flag.

ROLL CALL

The City Clerk noted attendance of the following Members of the City Council:

Councilwoman Carol Chen
Councilman Jim Edwards
Councilwoman Laura Lee (arrived at 7:12 p.m.)
Mayor Pro Tem Joseph Cho, Ph.D.
Mayor Bruce W. Barrows

Staff members in attendance:

Art Gallucci, Cerritos City Manager
Josephine Triggs, Cerritos City Clerk
Hal Arbogast, Cerritos Public Works Director
Kanna Vancheswaran, Cerritos Assistant City Engineer
Gary Smuts, ABC Unified School District Superintendent
Dr. Mary Sieu, ABC Unified School District Deputy Superintendent
Gina Zietlow, Gahr High School Principal
Michael White, Gahr High School Assistant Principal

PUBLIC COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Those present who wished to comment on other than the agenda item were invited to the podium.  There was no response.

MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION AND/OR CONSIDERATION

A review of possible additional options to mitigate Gahr High School pedestrian and automobile traffic congestion impacting the residents dwelling in the tract of homes located north of Artesia Boulevard at Mapes Avenue and west of Gridley Road at Abana Street.

Assistant City Engineer Vancheswaran provided an overview of the staff report dated August 25, 2009 in conjunction with a PowerPoint presentation.

Interested parties were invited to present testimony.

Doug Kline, Cerritos resident, asserted that the School District has indicated the traffic/pedestrian congestion problem near Gahr High School and the residential area is not their problem.  He expressed safety concerns, noting that cars block the streets in this residential area during student drop-off/pick-up times and cars are racing in this area.  He suggested that student drop-off/pick-up occur only at the gym area on the Gahr High School campus and indicated that in the past a teacher was assigned to oversee student pedestrians from the Gahr High School campus during peak times.

Willodean Wiswell, Cerritos resident, presented a photograph of where cars are two abreast on Abana Street and causing traffic congestion.  She added that she is unable to get out of her driveway after 2:00 p.m. due to this traffic congestion and suggested installing speed bumps.

Wonder Brown, Cerritos resident, expressed concern that it would only be a matter of time before a major traffic accident occurs in this area and that this is an opportunity for Gahr High School administrators to police activities of students and parents in this regard.  Ms. Brown noted that truant students sit on her fence, which poses a security concern, and suggested that a person constantly overseeing the area between 7:30 a.m.–8:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. would send a clear message to parents and students.

Beatrice Rodriguez, Cerritos resident, indicated that it takes about 20 minutes to get out of her driveway to exit the tract from Abana Street onto Gridley Road.  She suggested prohibiting left/right turns from Gridley Road during peak times and that residents be provided with a special placard exempting them from these prohibitions.  Ms. Rodriguez was not in favor of a gated community for this residential area.

Shirley Chambers, Cerritos resident, observed that vehicles crowding Abana Street and Mapes Avenue during student drop-off/pick-up times make it difficult to get out of the tract in the mornings and afternoons.  She added that students leave school using the park as a short cut and climb over her fence as well as loiter and smoke in the park after school hours.  Ms. Chambers expressed concern with cars that turn wheels in the middle of the street, which could possibly spin out of control and hit pedestrians or residences.

Annetta Breedlove, Cerritos resident, expressed that the efforts of the City to address this issue have not been enforced and indicated a need to know what the School District is doing to try to help clear up this problem.  She commented on her efforts to resolve the situation and noted that students gathering on street corners in the residential area is a problem.

Steve Hopkins, Cerritos resident, reiterated the comments of Mr. Kline with regard to a drop-off/pick-up area in the gym area.

David Shaffer, Cerritos resident, indicated that the City has done a good job in efforts to address this issue and the School District needs to be involved.  He expressed safety concerns with the speed of vehicles traveling through his neighborhood because he has a small child and expressed his opinion that the gated option would not work well.

Carol Bosma, Cerritos resident, opined that most of the people traversing the neighborhood seem to come from Gridley Road, noting that the last three years have been the worst.  She noted that residents should be given exemption stickers should any restriction on vehicular traffic in the neighborhood be undertaken.

Discussion ensued regarding the traffic circulation scenario currently in place at Gahr High School, which was designed with participation of the School District, reviewed and approved by the City Council after public testimony at a City Council meeting, and funded by the City.  The possibility of encouraging traffic to exit onto Studebaker Road in an attempt to relieve the burden on Artesia Boulevard was also addressed.  Reference was made to law enforcement patrols and citations issued during student drop-off/pick-up times, and it was noted during discussion that it appears that issuing citations has not had a significant impact on the traffic and pedestrian congestion in the nearby neighborhoods, that parents and students continue to use these neighborhood streets to drop-off/pick-up students and that similar situations are experienced near elementary schools.

Additional discussion was held regarding the efforts of the School District to advise parents and students of the appropriate traffic circulation pattern to utilize when dropping-off and picking-up students, including a dial-out system, letters throughout the school year, and newspaper articles.  The possibility of the School District participating in traffic and loitering abatement was suggested, and it was noted that the School District cannot participate in off-campus enforcement, other than moving students along at the corner, and that its responsibility is education and on-campus activities, while making every effort to make it as convenient as possible for school traffic to come onto campus.  It was also pointed out that the classrooms are closer to the residential areas, which is considered more convenient when dropping-off/picking-up students, resulting in traffic/pedestrian congestion is these residential neighborhoods.

Further discussion concerned the possible option of gating the residential neighborhood in this area and it was recommended that a survey of affected residents be undertaken before consideration of this option.

Shirley Chambers, Cerritos resident, asked that affected residents be notified of any further consideration of this matter.

Annetta Breedlove, Cerritos resident, expressed that the traffic/pedestrian congestion constitutes a public nuisance and should be the basis for requiring parents to drop-off/pick-up their students on campus.

Sherrie Wilson, Cerritos resident, supported restricting school-related traffic from Mapes Avenue and suggested surveying the residents in this neighborhood.

Al Barlevy, Cerritos resident, referenced the retractable steel bars utilized at the Brea Mall as a traffic control device and suggested the use of these bars in the residential area affected by student-related traffic.

Sophia Tse, ABC Unified School Board Member, commented on her efforts at outreach to students, residents and business owners in the area and expressed her interest in working with the City to solve this problem.

David Montgomery, ABC Unified School District Board Member, noted that working together, the School District and the City can solve this problem.

Leah Nass, representing management of the Chevron service station at the northwest corner of Artesia Boulevard and Gridley Road, stated that there are a large number of students loitering on the property, fights break out, and there is a theft problem.  She added that students are constantly asked to clear the area and commented on a recent incident involving a pedestrian and vehicle, noting that some type of campus security would be effective in addressing this problem, since security could identify students.

Discussion followed regarding the possible use of traffic calming devices; possibly implementing a staggered school schedule; possible installation of speed bumps; suggesting more effective communication with the parents; and assigning school district personnel before and after school to oversee problem areas.

MOTION:  It was then moved by Mayor Barrows and seconded by Councilwoman Lee to direct City staff to work with School District staff and bring back to the City Council as soon as possible further recommendations, taking into consideration the testimony and discussion this evening.  The motion carried unanimously.

In response to Council inquiry, it was noted that affected residents would be notified when the matter comes before the City Council. 

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 9:23 p.m. 

/s/Josephine Triggs                   
Josephine Triggs, City Clerk
 

ATTEST:

/s/Bruce Barrows                     
Bruce Barrows, Mayor

Approved:  September 10, 2009

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