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PCY traffic fueled by ‘rude’ parents, impatient drivers and street configuration

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Paradise Canyon Elementary school students use a crosswalk on Knight Way to Paradise Canyon Elementary School. La Cañada Flintridge Public Works staff are working with residents to ease congestion, but the problems are complicated.
(File Photo)

Some Paradise Canyon Elementary School parents are so caustic during pick-up and drop-off periods crossing guards have quit and PTA members refuse to work the car line — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the school’s traffic troubles.

“They’re cursed at, they’re yelled at — it’s uncalled for,” said Principal Carrie Hetzel. “We can’t even keep crossing guards at our school anymore. They quit because parents are so rude and yell at them every day.”

With problems including speeding and distracted drivers ignoring basic traffic rules around the school mounting, La Cañada city and school officials invited residents Monday to air their grievances and brainstorm possible solutions in a town hall forum.

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La Cañada Flintridge traffic engineer Farhad Iranitalab, right, talks with Paradise Canyon Elementary school parents Monday at a town hall meeting to discuss traffic and safety problems around the school.
(Sara Cardine / La Cañada Valley Sun)
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Public Works Director Pat DeChellis said the meeting was an opportunity for residents and parents to learn what’s been done so far to improve conditions on Gould Avenue, Knight Way and surrounding streets and make suggestions of their own.

“We’re here to listen,” he said. “The next step will be to take what we’ve learned and come back in early 2020 to present possible solutions.”

Staff members compiled a running list of resident complaints and promised to return in the new year with an update on corrective actions and improvements that might help alleviate the issues.

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A parent shares her concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety around Paradise Canyon Elementary School with La Cañada Flintridge Public Works Director Pat DeChellis in a town hall forum held Monday at the school site.
(Sara Cardine / La Cañada Valley Sun)

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Complaints ran the gamut from a lack of stop signs on Gould Avenue near the entrance of the Foothill (210) Freeway to no clear path for moms with strollers to walk, to vegetation growing over speed limit signs.

“We are at ground zero — we see everything happening 24/7,” said Gould homeowner Richard Hing, who helped lead a neighborhood effort to remove unsightly wheel stops installed in September to prevent illegal U-turns on Gould.

“I don’t know what the solution is,” Hing continued. “Maybe reeducate the parents. I don’t know if they have a clue about what we’re talking about today.”

DeChellis shared with the audience some proposals the city has been mulling, including several possible reconfigurations of a Gould Avenue median north of Knight Way and an effort to narrow travel lanes between Knight and Houseman Street, installing a 4-foot walkway on Gould’s eastern side and a 4-foot buffer in between the travel and parking lanes on the west side.

Meanwhile, several in attendance recognized sidewalks and lane striping alone won’t likely solve what’s become a complex problem involving attitudes, poor habits and a lack of enforcement.

Possible solutions included more before- and after-school options for students to reduce car line numbers, curb extenders to narrow the intersection at Knight and Paulette Place and possibly placing sixth-grade safety patrol monitors around campus.

“I want to thank you all for showing up tonight,” DeChellis said in closing. “We will be bringing these back to you as soon as possible with suggestions and solutions.”

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