A group of North Hollywood residents celebrated a victory Monday in a 15-year battle to slow speeding drivers on their street with the installation of new stop signs.
About a dozen of them watched as two stop signs were tacked onto posts on Bellaire Avenue. The cross street, Hart Street, already has two signs.
Before, residents said, motorists would race through the intersection at speeds up to 60 m.p.h., unfettered by stop signs or signals along the half-mile stretch of Bellaire between Vanowen Street and Sherman Way.
“They sail through here like a bat out of hell,” said Vic Hamra, 70. The situation is especially bad in the mornings and evenings, when the street is glutted with commuters trying to avoid the traffic on Coldwater Canyon Avenue, he said.
John Rose, who has lived on Bellaire since 1953, said he began the drive for the signs 15 years ago after two girls crossing the street were hit by a car and injured. Then and every few years afterward, he asked the city Department of Transportation for a signal or sign but was told that there wasn’t enough traffic or serious accidents to warrant one, he said.
Rose, whose four sons grew up in the neighborhood, said he was particularly worried because children walk to nearby Coldwater Canyon School and St. Jane Frances Catholic School. The crossing guard at the intersection sometimes had to wait for a break in traffic to guide children across.
Tom Jones, senior engineer with the Department of Transportation, said previous requests were denied because there were no reported accidents in the intersection, although there have been two or three a year nearby.
After his appeals were rejected again last year, Rose persuaded an aide to Councilman Joel Wachs to come to the street and view the problem. Wachs then urged the transportation department to reconsider the request for the stop sign, which it did.
Jones said 400 cars an hour have been counted driving on Bellaire in the late afternoon. Eighty-five percent of the cars were traveling 41 m.p.h. or less. “It’s not the Indianapolis 500, but it is high for a residential street,” he said.
Accidents Outside Home
Longtime resident Larry Frank, 62, said that about six years ago, as he and his wife slept in a front bedroom, a vehicle driven by a drunk driver jumped the curb, crashed into his fence and hit his car. He said that about five years ago, his daughter’s car, which was parked in front of the house, was rear-ended.
“It’s difficult backing out of the driveway when cars are going that fast,” Frank said.
Jaime Reyes, 38, said his family’s two Dalmatians and a pet cat have been run over since they moved to the street three years ago. “I don’t have pets anymore because of the problem with the street,” he said.
For a few days, extra stop signs sandwiched by orange road cones in the middle of Bellaire will alert drivers to stop, transportation department officials said.