San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor Slowing It Down in San Carlos. | The White Oaks Blog
Living in San Carlos January 5, 2012

Slowing It Down in San Carlos.

by Chuck Gillooley

A Chronic Problem.

Despite the plethora of wonderful things that there are about the City of Good Living — the schools, the downtown, the weather,  the location, etc.. — San Carlos has a dirty little problem that it hasn’t been able to solve for decades:  Speeding…as in vehicles speeding through its residential streets.  If you live on Brittan, or Melendy, or Saint Francis, or Eaton, or Howard, or Cedar, or countless other streets in San Carlos,  then you know exactly what I’m talking about — drivers blazing down your street in blatant disregard of the posted speed limit.  And it’s not just limited to passenger vehicles, either.  Delivery trucks are some of the worst offenders.

Why do people think it’s perfectly OK to speed through their neighbor’s front yards?  I don’t get it.

A Design Flaw.

The most significant cause of all the congestion and subsequent speeding in San Carlos is the actual layout of the city itself.  San Carlos was not a “planned community” where things like ingress and egress were taken into account up front.  The city basically evolved westward from the bay on its own timeframe in the mid-1900’s, so it ended up being interconnected by a whole network of narrow, crowded streets.   In planned communities like Redwood Shores, or places across the bay like Danville, you’ll see dedicated access roads with the neighborhoods then branching off of those roads.   These access roads are generally multi-lane to handle the density, and most important, there are no residential properties that have frontages on these access roads.

Consequently, drivers in San Carlos are forced to navigate their way through narrow residential streets to get wherever they’re going — downtown, or from their homes to work (or vice versa).   And for whatever reason, patience is not a virtue that many drivers possess when they navigate the streets of San Carlos.

Happy New Year to Me.

I live on a street where speeding is a constant problem.   On the morning of December 30 2011, that fact hit home in a personal way.  This is what I awoke to that morning:


At about 6:00 that morning, a speeding 21-year old driver lost control of his car and plowed into both my and my neighbor’s car.  According to the police report, the driver was traveling well in excess of the posted speed limit in foggy and wet conditions.    Since he did not apply the brakes before the accident, the impact slammed my car (front) into the car behind it and pushed both cars completely onto the sidewalk, narrowly missing a woman who was taking her dog for a morning walk.   Both cars in this picture are likely total losses.

In the 20+ years that I have lived on this street, this is second time that I’ve had a car mangled by a speeding driver.  Both accidents were completely avoidable.

Enough is enough.

It’s Time to Fix the Problem.

Speeding isn’t a new problem in San Carlos.  I can distinctly remember those days back in the 1970’s when there was still a San Carlos High School and a particular San Carlos Police motorcycle officer (who will rename nameless, but will live on in infamy for many San Carlos residents) used to sit at the bottom of Melendy Drive and write tickets as fast as he could to the unsuspecting high school students bombing down the steep grade.

But you can’t blame the San Carlos Police Department for the chronic speeding problem.  They are generally very responsive when citizens have complaints about residential speeding.  But speeding is ubiquitous in San Carlos, and there are only a finite number of officers on duty at any time.    They can’t be everywhere at one time.  It’s akin to killing a swarm of bees with a flyswatter — the numbers just don’t work.

But the brute force techniques that were used to control speeding back then are still in place now:  namely a patrol officer with radar.    It’s time for the City of San Carlos follow the lead of neighboring communities and start solving an age-old problem with modern solutions.

New Solutions to an Old Problem.

For whatever reason, San Carlos has always been reluctant to take innovative measures to curb its speeding problem.    It took a full-blown community meeting on our street that resulted not in the 4-way stop sign that we requested, but a roundabout that ultimately did absolutely nothing to slow traffic.  Note to City:  Roundabouts don’t work.

Hats off to our neighbors in Belmont and Redwood City, who are far more forward thinking in their approach to solving their respective speeding problems.   Speed bumps are not viewed as a curse in those cities like they are in San Carlos.   And Menlo Park has used attractive “gateways” as calming mechanisms at the entry point of some of their busier streets.   The only street modifications that I can see in place in San Carlos are the tw0 roundabouts (one on Howard Avenue and the other on Elm Street), the chokers on Cordilleras, and a couple of speed bumps on Beverly Drive.   Otherwise, the streets are virtually unchanged from when the they were built.

Time for a Poll.

Are you in favor of the City installing speed bumps on its biggest problem streets?  What about calming devices like gateways, chokers and roundabouts?  Or, should the City just leave the streets as they are and let the police handle the problem?  Register your vote in the poll at the top of the blog.

Do yo have a story about speeding on your street?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

In the meantime, I need to get back to searching for a new car….
__________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
Don’t miss a single update!
_____________________________________________________________________________

GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Slowing It Down in San Carlos., 4.2 out of 5 based on 5 ratings
Comments 14
  • I previously lived right off of Melendy, and speeding on that street is really bad! Some irresponsible drivers drive insanely fast around those turns, especially during commute times probably while heading to/from work on the 280.

    One or two speed bumps would do wonders to reduce the speeding and make it safer for residents (especially ones with kids) in that area.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I live on Brittan Ave between Alameda & Crestview. We see a great number of drivers speeding both uphill and downhill, probably because roadway is quite wide. I would like to see speedbumps etc used to slow traffic and much more police enforcement of the 30 mph speed limit.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Add this to another of those irresponsible SC incidents. Yesterday at Highlands Park, an off leash dog almost mauled an elderly walker. The owner was busy chatting with other off leash dog owners congregating on the grass field. Did she apologize? No! Behind the batting cage on the artificial field is a sign stating that off leash dog owners would be aggressively cited as of Nov 2011. We can’t afford police enforcement for all situations and we can’t trust self enforcement. What’s left? Speed bumps all over the city? No dog walking in the parks without a leash and mandatory poop bag?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Janet, You’re right, enforcement is the key. All the rules in the world won’t make these problems go away until we enforce the ones that are already on the books. Traffic calming may solve minimal incidents, but Chuck’s street has roundabouts and look where that got him?

    We had a police chase up our street earlier this year and the car being chased crashed into a curb and became pinned between two houses causing some pretty major damage; both driveways had to be replaced and one house had to completely relandscape. Luckily it happened at 4 am so nobody was injured.

    A bit off the subject, but I have appointed myself the neighborhood parking cop. It amazes me how many of my neighbors with 2 and 3 car garages and wide driveways park some of their many cars indefinitely on the street. I’ve reported 1 neighbor in particular with 2 of their 4 cars parked days and weeks at a time on the street.to the city and they get tagged, but never towed. These cars are also registered in Florida and these people have lived there for 7 years. I’ve also reported them to the CHP “cheaters” program and still nothing. When the authorities are handed problems and they still choose to do nothing, we have a problem.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I am all for a few speed bumps here and there, or a few more stop signs. PD can’t be everywhere and if a few strategic speed bumps were placed on some high need streets, it would be a significant improvement.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • As a corollary to this issue, I think we all should more actively advocate the reduction of car traffic throughout our city. This won’t solve the problem Chuck raises but I think San Carlos has the opportunity to become much more walking friendly. We have a beautiful downtown that is easily within walking distance from many homes. With new developments like the transit village and Wheeler plaza more people (and cars) will be injected into our town and I believe that without establishing safer/more convenient ways to walk through our town the traffic problem will become catastrophic. There were many “postman’s paths” that have been shut down throughout our city and I think if we opened those back up as well as looked for more ways to create a more “walking friendly” city with greenways connecting our lovely parks we could create a model town that further reinforces a healthy lifestyle and tight knit community without the additional traffic burden (we’ll be the envy of the peninsula). With the additional funding required for these two developments, we should require each of them to have a proposal that extends beyond the site development and demonstrates how they can finance projects to reopen these “postman’s paths” and develop additional walking/park like features throughout our town.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • With regard to postmans paths, our postman doesn’t even walk anymore. He goes from house to house starting and stopping his postal truck. I’m not saying he is part of the speeding problem, but why does a perfectly fit and relatively young mail carrier need to drive to each home? I walk our 3 dogs twice a day around our neighborhood and as a nearly 50 year old man, I manage just fine. Yes he would have to carry mail, but he can push a mail cart too.

      Sadly, as a culture, we seem to be moving away from walking to get around.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
    • Daniel,

      You bring up a very good point. If there’s a bright side to having my car smashed to pieces, it’s that I re-discovered how enjoyable it is to leave the car at home and actually WALK to downtown San Carlos. And I don’t live that close to downtown. That walk has now become a nightly event for me that I’ll be sure to continue if/when I get my car back!

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • I agree about speeding in San Carlos as a big issue. Personally, I think it’s a matter of time before somebody gets injured in front of Heather School.

    My mother was so horrified at the drivers flying up and down Melendy Drive, right in front of Heather — a hilly neighborhood with very limited visibility and practically nonexistent street parking, and a massively overcrowded school parking lot – that she wrote a letter to the city, begging them to install speedbumps.

    As is, a police car is parked in front of Heather most days at pickup time, and we do have volunteer crossing guards, and let me tell you, it’s a risky job! For those unfamiliar, this neighborhood has minimal parking and isn’t like White Oaks or Brittan Acres with sidewalks, flat streets and ample visibility. It is flanked by apartments, and many cars line the one side of the street where parking is allowed, making it even more treacherous.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I live on the St Francis Fwy. I asked what was being done about speeding at the Town Hall a couple years back and the officer said, “We looked into the speeding problem and discovered it was the residents themselves.” He seemed to think that was the end of the discussion. Uh, I don’t care who it is. Give them a ticket. I don’t really care if you make a complete stop (which is where I always see the cops waiting), but 45 in a 25 is not safe. I see it every day.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • That would almost be funny if it weren’t so ridiculous. Of course it’s residents who are the ones who are speeding — one would expect that San Carlos residents are the majority of drivers on San Carlos streets. The kid who wiped out my car apparently lives in San Carlos — does that make it any more acceptable?

      There needs to be a more proactive mindset into solving this problem — not just sitting back and making inane comments like the one you got.

      Thanks for your comment…

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • Chuck,
    Thanks for addressing this on your blog.

    As with Kathy, we live on the St. Francis speedway. Certainly many drivers using the road are San Carlos locals, especially during non-commute times. However, there is quite a bit of out-of-town traffic cutting through (from 280/Edgewood) at commute times.

    Prior to living in SC, we lived in North Palo Alto which went through a very painful traffic calming process – it ultimately slowed down traffic, but took two tries before the resident calmed down. The roundabouts they used were a little bigger than the one on Howard, but they do effectively slow traffic.

    Menlo installed speed bumps on a few streets and these did slow traffic when it passed over the speed bumps. However, cars accelerated and braked before and after the bumps, increasing the noise and possibly decreasing safety.

    4 way stops can also slow traffic, but they increase noise (braking and acceleration).

    I think that the first step is increased enforcement. Prior to the shift to the Sheriff’s department, conversations with Chief Rothaus led me to believe that the biggest problem was staffing traffic enforcement. I would think that with the greater number of resources available, that we might be able to get a roving radar unit to motivate drivers to slow down.

    Please ping Captain Rothaus and let him (and the city council) know your concerns. They won’t do much unless they feel the citizen’s are v. concerned.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • So, yesterday they addressed the speeding problem in San Carlos. From what I saw this was only done on San Carlos Ave. I will say I did see several people pulled over that day. However, I worry more about the side streets that people use, like Howard, Brittan and the street I live on with 2 schools and a church, Tamarack. On my street, its a morning and afternoon speedway everyday, weekends included.

    I have been talking to neighbors on the side of our road, we have no sidewalks and it just amazes us how they dont even bother to slow down. I guess they dont realize how much not only their lives but their childs life will be changed if they dont see another child run out or an elderly person walking. Those are my biggest fear in all this.

    I grew up playing on this street when I was young and so did my children. My grandchild will not have the same opportunity becuase its just too dangerous. I love San Carlos, my family has been here since the 30’s. I wouldn’t ever move, but its just sad to see others dont respect our neighborhoods like they would their own.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Leanne,

      Thanks for your comment. After all the hype about this traffic enforcement day, I was disappointed to not see a single traffic officer on my street that day. I have emailed and called the Dept for years asking for increased enforcement, so Howard should have been a no-brainer. It makes me wonder if the locations weren’t picked for maximum revenue return rather than maximum need…

      Speeding is a big problem in this city, and as the population of this area slowly increases, it’s only going to get worse.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
Leave a comment