Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Q&A with L.A.U.S.D., A Potentially Very Serious Hazard, and A Possible Solution

Mr. Rod Hamilton from the Facilities Services Division of the Los Angeles Unified School District visited the February meeting of the Governing Board of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

Mr. Hamilton was supposed to be joined by a representative of the L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation to offer answers, on both sides, concerning the Memorandum of Understanding between the Dept. of Parks and Rec. and L.A.U.S.D. over the rights by L.A.U.S.D. to use roads and other facilities owned by the Dept. of Parks and Rec. on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

Nobody from Parks and Rec. showed.

Mr. Hamilton offered answers to every single question asked of him, at the meeting.

Here are some of the issues Mr. Hamilton informed the Board and audience members about.

Contrary to rumor, the Memorandum of Understanding has NOT been approved of by the Dept. of Parks and Rec. Governing Board.

Mr. Hamilton stated that the MOU was still in draft form, but the Dept. of Parks and Rec. is scheduled to vote on the matter at the March Meeting.

Mr. Hamilton stated that the swimming pool that is being proposed will be 25 meters by 25 yards and you should be able to pick out the location of the pool on the illustrations below.

Mr. Hamilton also stated that there will probably be 19 more parking spaces added along Barlow-Saxton Road, on L.A.U.S.D. Property. They may already be illustrated on the right side of the Outdoor Education Center.

The next part of this blog will deal with what Mr. Hamilton stated during the meeting and you can take from it, as you please.

There will be 37,000 square feet of solar panels on top of the buildings at the new campus. It is estimated the panels will generate 55% of the daily electrical needs of the campus.

IF the District goes ahead with putting wind turbines on the site, it is estimated that they will produce the remaining 45% of the electrical needs for the new campus.

If SRHS 15 becomes the first school in L.A.U.S.D. to have wind turbines, and develop 100% of the electrical needs of the campus, using solar and wind, it may be one of the only campuses the planet to have complete electrical needs met by naturally provided means.

We would surely see one former Vice President visit San Pedro.
***Ed. Note: If it comes to pass that 100% of the electrical power needed is generated by solar and wind, or perhaps only 75% of the needs can be met, I would expect that there will be a whole bunch of political, and business types that will swarm into the area to see how it is accomplished.

The dynamics of increased exposure throughout the world was not studied in the EIR and would have impacts for businesses, residents, traffic, and studies throughout the area for some time.

This may be one heck of a great idea, but the issues regarding how San Pedro will handle the added interest and presence, hasn't been studied, I believe.

Angels Gate High School will have new modular facilities close to the Oiled Bird Recovery Center and that construction will begin this June.

It is also expected that the Early Childhood Education Center will also be moved, but it may move after Angels Gate does.

Demolition and the beginning of movements of old buildings to sites closer to the Marine Mammal Center will commence in March.

The Removal Action Work plan will not have been discussed, debated, or approved of by then, but if L.A.U.S.D. does not fully follow regulations and safe procedures established by a large number of governmental entities, there could be lawsuits, injunctions, and work stoppages on the site.

According to Mr. Hamilton, construction on South Region High School #15 will begin by the end of 2009.

Alma Street will be widened, but it probably will not be straightened out much more. Sidewalks will be added at L.A.U.S.D. expense.

The widening of Alma Street will be between the access point at Main Street and go south to 37Th Street.

Mr. Hamilton offered that drivers and other who will eventually access the school site will adopt their own routes to and from the school.

There should be no expectation that Alma Street would not eventually become the primary access route to and from the campus, even thought school officials and elected representatives adamantly stated that Alma would not become the primary access point.

Currently there are no plans to have the Alma/Main access be an emergency access point, only.

According to Mr. Hamilton, the members of the Board of Education would have to vote to make the Alma access for emergency access only.

Barlow-Saxton Road is expected to be upgraded using funding from L.A.U.S.D.

Improvements to roadways on Dept. of Parks and Rec. land, other than Barlow-Saxton to the point where it enters L.A.U.S.D. property, would have to be paid by the Dept. of Parks and Rec.

L.A.U.S.D. will pay for signals at the intersection of Gaffey Street and 30th/31st.

The folks at the Military Museum have expressed in having the "Radar Building" on L.A.U.S.D. property moved onto the site of the Museum.

The Museum supporters would most probably be required to fund the move of the building and any other building moves that bring those buildings onto the Museum site.

The historical buildings slated to be moved closer to the Marine Mammal Recovery Center, will be moved at L.A.U.S.D. expense.

Mr. Hamilton reminded everyone about the meeting regarding the demolition plans for the site. The flyer for that meeting, on Thursday evening, is on this blog.

Now to the potentially hazardous situation, some reasoning, and the possible solution.

Below is an illustration depicting, in a very rough form, what can be expected at the site, according to current plans and illustrations.

You should probably click over the illustration to better view the issues.

What is illustrated is the SRHS 15 campus, the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center, the access points to both facilities and the geometry currently planned for Gaffey Street.

According to Mr. Hamilton, there will be a signalized intersection, with crosswalks at the intersection of Gaffey Street with 30Th. Street on the west and 31St. Street, on the east.

At the intersection of Gaffey Street with Barlow-Saxton Road on the west and 32Nd. Street to the east, the current geometry of two stop signs will remain.

There has been and will not be any change to any stop signs along Gaffey Street between it's intersection with Leavenworth Drive at the entrance to Angels Gate Cultural Center and the new signal at 30Th and 31St.

Here is the potentially very hazardous condition that the proposed geometry presents.

Drivers traveling northbound along Gaffey, as they move downhill, north towards the intersection of 30Th Street may attempt to speed down the hill to "catch" the stale green or yellow light that will occur at 30Th. Street.

Drivers attempting to access northbound Gaffey Street by turning left off of Barlow-Saxton Road may not be able to properly judge the speed and distance of the vehicle heading north along Gaffey.

Those turning drivers on Barlow-Saxton may also not be able to safely judge vehicles that sped through the signal at 30Th and Gaffey and head south, up the incline of Gaffey Street.

There appears to be a serious potential of very bad traffic collisions at or near the intersection of Gaffey Street and Barlow-Saxton Road.

Youthful drivers, drivers in a hurry, fog, excessive speed and other factors, along with the very close position of the signalized intersection make for a brew of destruction and injury that nobody wants.

If lawsuits arise from collisions at the intersection, which taxpayer-based entity may be found liable?

It costs usually a minimum of $285,000 Dollars to fund a four-way signal, with crosswalks.

One consideration is to place a double-signalized intersection along Gaffey at all four intersecting streets, but it is highly doubtful that the L.A. City Department of Transportation is willing to pay for the added costs, whether it is warranted or not.

L.A.U.S.D. has offered to pay for the signals at 30Th./31St. and Gaffey.

There is also the consideration of placing crosswalks at Gaffey and Barlow-Saxton/31St.

While it may be warranted, necessary, and required, it still offers a serious potential for injury, death, and collisions because of the location being on a steep hill, close to an intersection too many drivers will speed through.

There is also the factor that Alma Street may become the primary ingress and egress route for the facilities on land owned by L.A.U.S.D.

This is something many officials promised would not happen and some of them have already gone back on their words.

This was not unexpected by me and many who have found that trust of just about everyone, other than teachers within L.A.U.S.D. is questionable at best.

So, after pondering the issues, I may have considered a solution that would cause very little disruption along Gaffey, except for folks turning west onto Barlow-Saxton from northbound Gaffey. (There is no left turn lane proposed).

Make Barlow-Saxton through the two campuses and Main Street one-way roads.

Vehicles would enter the properties from Gaffey Street, with probably 90+% of drivers turning right onto Barlow-Saxton from southbound Gaffey Street.

When leaving the SRHS 15 campus, drivers would easily be able to turn right and proceed a few feet to 30Th. Street, where they can eventually turn either northbound or southbound on Gaffey Street.

This concept would also insure that Alma Street would never become the primary ingress and egress route for SRHS 15, Angels Gate H.S., the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center, and the Early Childhood Education Center.

The concept does put burdens on residents along 30Th, but only eastbound traffic would be more greatly impacted.

This idea would also allow for changes in the geometry of the parking lots and drop-off point for the new campus.

This is also, in my opinion, the only solution that would not mean that property along 30Th. would not have to be taken for a more safe route to and from the facilities.

Everyone should have the safest environments to live, drive, and work in.

Although I have found L.A.U.S.D. to be very resistant to actually providing members of the community with any real input into the final product, I should imagine it may only take one life, several serious injuries, quite a bit of personal property damage, and several lawsuits where they are the defendants, to get the message across.

They can pay now or pay later. I can only hope they pay for safety now rather than for settlements later.

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