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Plan to Ease Traffic in Santa Ana Area Passes

Times Staff Writer

A plan designed to reduce traffic in Santa Ana’s north-central neighborhood has been approved by the City Council, an action applauded by residents. But a vocal core of opponents waving miniature green Flower Street/Memory Lane street signs showed up to criticize the proposal .

One hundred people were still present when the council made its decision shortly before midnight Tuesday . Just one representative from each side was allowed to speak, because a formal public hearing which drew more than 200 residents had taken place two weeks earlier.

The neighborhood is bounded by 17th and Bristol streets, the Santa Ana Freeway and Broadway. Many residents complained that their streets are congested with cars heading for the Civic Center during the week.

Flower Street resident Bob Davies spoke briefly, urging that the council implement all the stop signs, “no-right-turn” and “no-parking” measures instituted last April. The fully installed plan, he said, will “be an action to preserve the residential character of the neighborhood.”

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Jim Lowman, who lives on Bristol Street and operates an insurance firm there, cited a petition signed by 3,000 persons who oppose the plan and argue that it will push traffic onto his and other surrounding streets. He also suggested that two left-turn lanes be retained from Flower Street to Memory Lane and that traffic citations issued since April be forgiven.

“We’re growing in numbers every day and we’re not going to go away,” he declared.

Some neighborhood residents argue that the city’s plans for the downtown area, which include the Westdome Arena and the $90-million Centerpointe office-hotel complex, will compound the problem. Flower Street resident Barbara Taylor complained that she often has to wait long periods just to back out of her driveway--sometimes as long as 20 minutes at rush hours--and that drivers often toss out cans and other trash on their way through the neighborhood.

“As it is,” she said, “Flower Street provides the easiest access from the Santa Ana Freeway to the Civic Center.”

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City Traffic Engineer George Alavarez pointed out that the city implemented a similar plan in the northeastern neighborhood in 1982, and added that other sections of the city will be studied on an area-by-area basis.

Part of the city’s plan is to call on Caltrans to close the Flower Street off-ramp from the Santa Ana Freeway. Other aspects include:

- A “no-right-turn” lane from eastbound Memory Lane onto Flower Street during the morning rush hours. Two Santa Ana motorcycle officers man the corner at those peak times, handing out $52 tickets to motorists who fail to obey the posted warnings.

- A ban on parking on 17th Street during rush hours.

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- A right-turn arrow at Bristol and 17th streets.

- A stop sign at the Flower Street off-ramp where it crosses railroad tracks north of West Orange Road.

- Installation of traffic diverters that would prevent northbound cars on Ross and Flower streets from proceeding past 17th Street.

In addition, the City Council voted to postpone consideration of a request by residents of Greenleaf Street to build a wall that would separate their homes from 17th Street, which they say would end parking by customers of a bank and business college, and the accompanying noise and trash.

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The residents collected $9,500 in order to pay for the construction. A staff report recommended rejection of that proposal, suggesting instead a permit-parking program for the street, which would be offered to other similarly impacted streets throughout the city.


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