All La Cañada schools seem to draw traffic troubles during drop-off and pick-up hours, and Paradise Canyon Elementary School is no exception.
For years, the city has eyed nearby Gould Avenue and Knight Way for improvements that would keep congestion in check and aid pedestrians in their foot travel to and from school. In 2015, when longtime Paradise Canyon resident Ralph Lipscomb left a $500,000 bequest to the city with instructions to it for street and public works projects, officials saw an opportunity.
The Public Works Department drafted plans for resurfacing streets and installing a single curbed median on Gould, from Knight Way north to Paulette Place, with a mid-block cutout to allow for U-turns. Sidewalks on both sides of Gould would be paired with a curb, gutter and sidewalk on the south side of Knight Way.
Parking and traffic issues could be eased, they figured, if a parking cutout were added on the south side of Knight to accommodate parents picking up and dropping off kids and Knight Way were widened. The city also proposed installing a mid-block crosswalk on Knight Way leading up to the front of the school.
But when staffers met with school officials and neighbors in a Nov. 2 public workshop to get input on the proposals, they learned some parts of the plan might do more harm than good.
Residents living on the south side of Knight Way petitioned against widening the street and the installation of a sidewalk and parking cutout there that would take up several feet in the public right of way, ostensibly diminishing their frontyards.
They also requested the entire south side of Knight enforce a no-parking restriction during school hours.
"We're not opposed to the gutters and curbs, but there's absolutely no need to put a sidewalk on the south side of Knight Way," said petitioner Gerald Berman, who's lived at 476 Knight Way with wife Glenda for the past 35 years. "The school doesn't want it and the residents don't either."
School officials expressed their concern over the mid-block crosswalk proposed for Knight, between Gould Avenue and Oliveta Place to the east. Paradise Canyon Principal Debra Cradduck said Wednesday kids crossing the street there without a crossing guard would be at risk. Also, encouraging parents to use that segment of Knight Way as a third drop-off area could create further backup onto Gould.
"I appreciate it, but it's just not going to be as helpful as it was intended," Cradduck said.
Nasser Shoushtarian, an engineer and project manager for the city, said staff are revising the project based on comments received from the public. So far, the mid-block crosswalk on Knight, as well as the parking cutout and sidewalk there, have been scrapped.
"We're waiting for the revised layout," he said Wednesday. "After we get that, we'll talk to the school and give the layout to them."
As for the petitioning residents, Shoushtarian said the city would likely have individual conversations about the revisions before taking the new proposal to the Public Works and Traffic Commission for review.
The engineer said the city hopes to start construction sometime in June 2018, after school lets out, and have the project fully completed by the time classes resume Aug. 16.