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TUSTIN : City OKs Stop Signs in Wake of Fatality

Spurred by emotional appeals, the City Council unanimously decided Monday night to place a stop sign at the intersection of Yorba Street and Amaganset Way, where a woman was killed last week while walking her dog.

The council also voted to place two stop signs on nearby A Street after residents of that neighborhood presented a petition bearing more than 100 signatures.

Both streets have received increased traffic during construction on the Costa Mesa Freeway, as on-ramps and off-ramps have routed traffic through Tustin.

Council members listened quietly while John Said, his children and neighbors pleaded with them to take some action so that others might not suffer the same fate at Paquita Said, who was killed last week at the intersection of Yorba Street and Amaganset Way, just two blocks from home.

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“My mother took her life into her hands crossing that street and she didn’t make it,” said Michael Said, visiting from Alexandria, Va.

“You have to be on your toes to cross safely there,” said John Said, Paquita’s widower. “How many more fatalities do we have to have there before we get a light?”

A week before Said’s death, a motorcyclist was killed in a traffic accident just two blocks from Yorba Street.

Anita Foley, who lives near Yorba Street, said she fought for a crossing guard at Amaganset Way several years ago after her son was nearly struck at the intersection.

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Neighbors said that motorists routinely zip along Yorba at more than 60 m.p.h., making it dangerous for pedestrians since there is no stop light, no stop sign and not much light from street lamps.

A flashing yellow light was installed about a year and a half ago but it is only active during the morning and afternoon hours when schoolchildren are present.

Residents of South A Street near 2nd and 3rd streets said they also are concerned because one child has been struck and several dogs killed along A Street.

“Without more stop signs, I feel it’s not a question of if but when a tragedy will occur,” Nancy Prescott said.

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Because the issue of traffic controls was not on the agenda, the council was required by the state’s Brown Act to declare it an urgent matter before approving the stop signs.

The council’s decision to erect the stop signs defied the advice of the city attorney, who said erecting the traffic controls without conducting necessary traffic studies will open the city to liability.

“The state proscribes, where, when and under what conditions the city can install traffic control devices,” City Atty. James G. Rourke said. “The city council and the traffic engineer don’t have the discretion to just decide these things.”

A study about a year and a half ago showed that the street did not meet state requirements for a stop sign or stop light, said City Engineer Bob Ledendecker.

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Nonetheless, council members said they hope that the stop signs can be erected as soon as possible.

Ledendecker said he expects them to be in place by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. Studies of automotive and pedestrian traffic are already under way for Yorba Street and will soon begin for A Street, he said.


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