Death of Girl, 3, Stirs Fight for More Parking : Traffic: Pomona mayor threatens legal action to close social services office on W. Holt Avenue unless more space is found by county facility.
The mayor of Pomona, contending that the county’s failure to provide adequate public parking at a social services office contributed to the traffic death of a 3-year-old, has vowed to seek legal action that could close the facility.
Mayor Donna Smith said she will ask the City Council at its meeting Monday to have the city attorney file a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the county in an attempt to get off-street parking for clients at a Department of Public Social Services office on W. Holt Avenue.
Similar lawsuits are routinely used by police to close unsafe structures and such places as drug houses.
“If (county officials) cannot provide for their customers, they should get out of business,” said Smith, who has been complaining publicly about the allegedly unsafe conditions outside the department facility since the death of Yasmine Infante Tapia.
The child was killed Dec. 9 when she darted in front of a truck while jaywalking across the busy, four-lane Holt with her uncle, said Pomona Police Chief Lloyd Wood.
The uncle, Wood said, had dropped his sister in front of the social services office and parked illegally in a shopping mall lot across the street. The child was likely hurrying to follow her mother into the building, he said.
Smith and Wood contend that if there had been sufficient public parking at the office, there would be no need for clients to park across the street and risk jaywalking.
But Virginia Collins, an assistant county administrator, rejected that contention, saying such an accident could have happened anywhere. She acknowledged, however, that under a longstanding policy, little or no public parking is provided at county-owned sites with the exception of health care clinics and hospitals.
Collins did not know when the policy was established or why.
There are 240 parking spaces adjacent to the facility, but 200 of them are reserved for employees, she said.
Since 369 employees work at the office, employees and clients park on residential streets and in private lots, according to Pomona officials.
Smith said the city has been complaining about the paucity of public parking spaces around the social services office for years.
During his 18-month tenure as police chief, Wood said, he has gathered videotapes of people jaywalking in front of the office as well as numerous complaints from nearby residents and business owners and passed those complaints to county officials.
“We advised (county officials) if they didn’t do something someone would get killed,” he said. “The scenario was exactly as we predicted.”
Since then, Smith said, county officials have ignored her letters, phone calls and facsimiles urging them to correct the problem.
Pomona City Atty. Arnold Glasman said Thursday that there was still a chance that a solution could be worked out with the county. If that does not work, he said, the city could and would take legal action.