By Victoria Martinez
Skytt Mesa residents will see a number of new stop signs and road markings on their streets in the coming months after a community effort to create safer roads in the Solvang neighborhood resulted in the city agreeing to complete a number of traffic calming measures.
Over the past few years, Skytt Mesa residents have seen an increase in traffic throughout the neighborhood as some drivers use the community as a thoroughfare between Route 246 and the center of Solvang. As they saw more speeding and reckless driving, neighbors decided to organize.
“It’s emotional, because people’s safety is at hand,” said one of the neighborhood representatives, Mientje D’Arelli.
D’Arelli and another neighborhood representative, Greg Janke, began organizing neighborhood meetings to discuss the issues and approached the City Council on Aug. 14 with their concerns.
After asking her neighbors to keep a log of observed speeding or reckless driving behaviors in the neighborhood, D’Arelli received reports of more than 25 incidents.
Families even spent time creating and posting signs throughout the neighborhood reminding drivers to slow down.
In response to residents’ concerns and complaints, the Solvang Public Works Department asked Coastal Community Builders to hire a traffic engineer to complete a study of traffic volumes and speeding within the neighborhood along with recommendations as to how some of the problems could be resolved.
The study was conducted in August and the report received and reviewed by the city in December. Based on the traffic engineers’ recommendations and input from Skytt Mesa residents, the city council authorized spending approximately $12,000 on traffic calming measures within Skytt Mesa.
The city will be installing two additional stop signs at the intersection of Mid Mesa Drive and Saw Leaf Lane to create a 4-way stop, and “25 MPH” pavement markings at both entrances and all new crosswalks, as suggested in the study.
If city officials feel it’s necessary, they will also install centerline and shoulder stripes on designated streets. The city had purchased two electronic “speed feedback” trailers before the study was completed and has committed to rotating one of them throughout the Skytt Mesa neighborhood during the next year. The work should be completed by June.
D’Arelli said that the majority of neighbors she has talked with are cautiously optimistic about the city’s planned improvements, though some still think road improvements such as speed bumps or landscape medians would have a greater impact. The city will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate the need for further traffic calming measures in 2019.
“I appreciate the city’s willingness to move forward with some improvements.” D’Arelli said.