Open letter to city officials
To the city of El Paso de Robles,
–I want to congratulate you on having a beautiful, prosperous and vibrant downtown. I had the opportunity to visit on Tuesday afternoon, November 14, 2017. Driving north from a weekend at Jalama Beach, I decided to stop somewhere for an ice cream cone.
I took the Spring Street exit off 101 because the sign indicated that I would find a downtown area, rather than a strip mall, which was my goal. Coming downhill on two lane Spring Street, just before 4th Street, I saw a sign indicating that I needed to move to the left lane to continue to downtown. I looked to the right and saw that a right turn would bring me to a rail-yard. The left lane was full of vehicles, so I indicated that I needed to merge, which I did. When I was pulled over by a motorcycle officer in the next block, I was told that my merge was too late, that I merged in the intersection. He gave me a ticket. Welcome to Paso Robles!
I walked back up Spring Street. The motorcycle officer was back at his spot, watching for unsuspecting motorists. I saw two signs indicating the lane change, one near the top of the hill and another near the intersection, none sooner. The striping does not change until just before the intersection. I saw other motorists merging before and into the intersection, but the officer had moved along by then. Clearly the intersection is tricky, and I’m not alone in my confusion.
The officer on duty at the Police Station explained that the Spring Street corridor is heavily enforced because of the number of accidents there. I do understand that enforcement changes behavior; however, citing confused visitors, who unfortunately will probably never be back, is unlikely to change the circumstances at that intersection.
According to the clerk at the courthouse, this violation it is likely to be $230 plus $40 for on-line traffic school. As a “mature” driver with an excellent driving record, I find this to be particularly galling.
I respectfully suggest that you:
1. Look at the number of citations issued at that intersection, where the violators live, and whether it is becoming safer over time. Ask yourselves if you can cite your way out of traffic problems at that intersection or along Spring Street.
2. Engage your traffic engineer to work out a better and safer welcome to your city, using lane markings, better signage, bulb-outs, traffic calming, etc.
3. In the interim, consider placing a sign at that intersection indicating that yes, you can turn right and get downtown (in addition to the rail-yard) and then post directional signs to downtown.
4. The staff at the Chamber of Commerce mentioned a new hotel at that intersection. If it is not too late, work with the developer, the Chamber, and other interested parties, to make the entrance to your city safe and welcoming.
Former elected official
Retired municipal employee