Traffic congestion is due to poor planning

The opportune time to deal with traffic congestion is before it happens. After the fact it's just noise.

A small city with one main street is not conducive to commercial development that is dependent on a customer base much larger than resident population to be successful. The result is traffic that makes it seem as though the town's population has doubled.

In 1998 during the contentious deliberations over the La Cañada Properties/Sport Chalet development, some of us persistently pointed out that we lacked the street grid essential for reasonable traffic flow that comes with large-scale commercial development. The council majority, of whom Dave Spence was a member, simply ignored us.

When the Town Center was finally approved, the council compounded the problem by acceding to the developer's request to trade the public square, called for in the Specific Plan, for a “park” due to his need to accommodate a prospective tenant who never appeared.

What was revealed when the request was made was the “park” was to be used as a sump basin for rainwater runoff that would allow the development to meet state-mandated runoff standards. Thus the nearly new continuation of Beulah into the development was removed and a new entrance to the development, Sport Chalet Drive, was added — along with another stoplight. That decision baked congestion into the cake.

Not to be deterred by traffic flow, two years ago the council again overrode the Specific Plan and allowed a market to be located in the old Sport Chalet building. Who knew a town of 20,000 souls needed four markets within a half-mile of each other, with another two within a mile and a half.

Traffic studies that stop development are as rare as unicorns. What was lacking in 1998 was common sense, and what George Bush the first called the “vision thing.” A dozen or more cars in each lane stopped at every light is now common and a testament to poor governance.

Kent Schmidt
La Cañada Flintridge

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