Mom petitions for kids' safety

COSTA MESA — The vice president of the College Park Elementary School PTA is gathering signatures to petition the City Council to install a blinking yellow light at two intersections where children, she said, are in danger of being hit by cars.

Michelle Pommier, a concerned parent and past PTA president, said intersections at Wilson Street and Fordham Drive and at Loyola and Fairview roads can be dangerous — especially before and after school, when motorists sometimes break the 35 mph speed limit and "whiz by."

Pommier said she's trying to gather as many signatures as she can before the Nov. 2 elections, but unfortunately, she added, the petition may not be ready until after the election.

"I just think something should be installed at these intersections, and it would be nice to get all this before the elections," Pommier said. "I'll take whatever the city thinks is the safest for the kids."

Due to budget cuts, the city of Costa Mesa has had to cut four crossing-guard positions from its budget, accounting for a savings of $50,000 this year.

While the intersections Pommier would like to improve were not affected by those cuts, a crossing guard lost her job near the school, in the vicinity of Notre Dame and Villanova roads.

Other locations where school crossing-guard positions were eliminated include Baker Street/Labrador Drive/Andros Street near California Elementary School; Presidio Drive and Presidio Square near Maude B. Davis Elementary School; and 16th Street and Santa Ana Avenue near Newport Heights Elementary School, according to the city. Crossing guards are still stationed at 16 locations.

With regard to Pommier's request, Peter Naghavi, the city's director of public services, said there are options, from installing a stop sign to installing yellow blinking lights in the asphalt to a yellow light on a pole.

But the best option, he said, is probably to have the children cross where there is a traffic light about 200 yards west of Fordham and Wilson, near the Home Depot and the Kmart east of Harbor Boulevard.

The installation of a stop sign, Naghavi said, would back up traffic along Fairview and Wilson.

"Then you'd be stopping 40,000 cars a day on those streets," he said.

The installation of yellow blinking lights would cost the city $70,000, he said.

And painting a midblock white stripped crosswalk, he said, would only serve to "provide a false sense of security" for the children.

"Then what you get is kids walking in the middle of the street, thinking they're safe, and most cars don't see the white lines," he said.

The installation of a pole with a yellow light, however, would cost $15,000, Naghavi said.

College Park Principal Julie McCormick said she appreciates any efforts to protect the more than 600 children who attend the school.

"We are pleased when efforts are taken to assist our students to safely walk to school," said Laura Boss, spokeswoman for Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Boss said last year yellow crossing lights were installed near Paularino Elementary School and that it has helped slow traffic down in the neighborhood considerably.

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