Dear Street Smart:
As an express delivery courier in west Simi Valley, I have been coping with a problem for the past 3 1/2 years.
It seems that several street names have never been entered in the Thomas Guide map book for Ventura County. These are in the Lake Park Village community in Wood Ranch.
The missing streets include Huyler Lane, Augustine Way, Shelburne Lane, Ridgeton Lane, Norfleet Lane and Fieldstone Way.
This has to be a great inconvenience for residents, vacation substitute couriers and people who don't make regular deliveries here, such as furniture store employees.
Will the Thomas Bros. guide ever include these streets?
Firstly, the roads you mentioned are not public streets. The metal security gates outside this condominium complex are a good tip-off.
These streets are private drives, used and maintained by the people who live in Lake Park Village, says Marlon Villarama, a Simi Valley associate engineer.
Nevertheless, some confusion is understandable because condominium residents use these private streets in their addresses.
Villarama says the city and local firefighters had to screen these street names to avoid duplication with roads elsewhere in Simi Valley or nearby cities. Finally, the names were recorded with the county.
When the most recent Ventura County Thomas Bros. guide was compiled in 1991, the company checked these county records, says Al Gastelum, a researcher with the Irvine-based map-maker.
For some reason, these private streets were overlooked. Or perhaps they hadn't been recorded at that time.
In any case, the missing streets won't be missing much longer.
"They're all going in the 1994 edition of the Ventura County Thomas Guide, which should be available in late November," Gastelum says.
Dear Street Smart:
A dangerous and growing traffic problem exists in my Camarillo neighborhood, and the city's traffic department has told me that nothing can be done.
The hazard is at Truman Street and Sweetwater Avenue, directly opposite Arneill Ranch Park. More and more drivers are discovering that this is a short-cut between Arneill Road and Temple Avenue, with no obstructions or stop signs.
In addition, the park has head-in parking for 25 cars, which back out into this intersection. To make matters worse, this intersection is located along a city bicycle route and is used by children walking to and from schools, the library, a public pool and the Boys & Girls Club.
There are poles already in place upon which signs could be affixed, making this a three-way stop. A crosswalk could easily be painted on the road for the safety of young children.
Is there anything that can be done to effect these simple and inexpensive changes?
Within the next few weeks, Camarillo workers will place devices on these streets to count how many cars are using this short-cut, says Tom Fox, the city's traffic engineer.
But don't get your hopes up. To qualify for a three-way stop under Caltrans rules, 500 vehicles an hour, on average, must pass through this intersection from each approach.
City staff members say it's unlikely these streets carry that many cars.
When stop signs are put on streets with low traffic volumes, "we get the 'California roll,' where drivers don't stop, they just roll right through the intersection," says Roc Pulido, Camarillo's traffic assistant.
That could endanger pedestrians, especially children, who step into the street, trusting that an oncoming driver will obey the stop sign, he says.
Similarly, traffic experts rarely paint crosswalks on the street anymore because they give children and others a false sense of security. "That paint just does not stop a car," Pulido says.
Finally, traffic engineer Fox says stop signs in residential neighborhoods just don't do much to slow drivers down. After stopping, these drivers often speed up again to make up the time they just lost.
"Stop signs are to control the right of way," Fox insists. "They're not meant to be a speed deterrent."
Nevertheless, Fox says a yield sign or a sign that calls attention to the parking area may be put up to alert drivers to the hazards you've described.
Dear Street Smart:
I agree wholeheartedly with Fred A. Laue, whose letter you published last week. He wanted a yield sign, not a stop sign, on the right-turn lane where Channel Islands Boulevard merges with Harbor Boulevard in Oxnard.
I have been traveling this route for many years and was greatly disappointed when this sign was changed to a stop. It's totally unnecessary. Pedestrians and bicyclists know how to cross the street. I've walked these routes, so I know what I'm saying.
One more concern: When you're traveling west on Channel Islands, the traffic signal at Peninsula Road has a green arrow for left turns. Then the signal turns to full green, so that cars can move straight ahead or turn left if there is no opposing traffic.
Why can't the signal at Harbor and Channel Islands be set up this way?
If you want to turn left on Channel Islands toward the beach, you can only do so on the green arrow. The signal should sometimes turn green for all lanes, so that you can turn left or go straight onto Harbor.
The city's excuse is probably that you cannot see far enough to judge oncoming traffic because of the curve in the road. In my estimation, there is about 400 to 500 feet of visibility, which, for me, is perfectly safe.
The foregoing is fully justified. I have 70 years of driving experience.
Herbert E. Hewston
Your experience serves you well. You've accurately predicted at least part of the city's response.
"The visibility is reduced because of the curvature of Harbor Boulevard," says Joe Genovese, Oxnard's traffic engineer. "You can't see oncoming traffic well."
But there's a second reason why cars can't turn left here without a green arrow.
About three years ago, because of the large number of cars turning toward the ocean at this corner, the city added a second left-turn lane. The Peninsula Road intersection you mentioned has only one left-turn lane.
Genovese says it is unsafe to let two lanes turn left on a full green. Two drivers, side by side in the double pocket, might disagree about whether there is enough time to turn left safely before being broadsided by oncoming cars.
In addition, one vehicle in the double pocket could block the second driver's view of oncoming traffic, leading to a collision, Genovese suggests.
For these reasons, Oxnard leaders are unlikely to change the way this signal operates.