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Open Letter to the City re: #Covid19Streets

April 30, 2020

To the Costa Mesa City Council,

There is a car-speeding problem in Costa Mesa on nearly every street. Our members have noticed and many residents have communicated to us an increase in speeding and other unacceptable behavior. We appreciate the efforts of the Police Department, but it is unrealistic to imagine that they are able to enforce driver behavior on all our streets. CMABS goal is to make our streets better and safer for all users. We would like to work with the City to this end.

Last August the Police Department conducted two crosswalk stings - one on Placentia Ave. and one on E. 17th St. Within a few hours, they had issued 43 tickets to drivers for failing to yield to pedestrians. More recently the Police Department monitored Fair Drive and issued 18 speeding tickets in a number of hours. These examples demonstrate to us that the problem of reckless driving is out of control in our community.

While street safety is always an important subject, the urgency is intensified during this period of sheltering in place. As the number of people in our streets increases, it becomes more important that the volume and speed of cars be reduced to safer levels. We need to be able to comfortably venture from our homes for health and sanity while maintaining safe social distancing. Many other cities have recognized this and taken advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconceptualize our public space.

With the increase of recreational use of our streets and the decrease in car traffic, cities have reallocated public space in a number of ways. The most common approach so far has been to limit through-traffic on certain residential streets. Just on the west coast, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, Redwood City, Emeryville, Alameda, Pasadena, and San Diego are in the process of employing these kinds of low-cost, high-return interventions we envision.

CMABS advocates for similar interventions to our public rights of way. The shelter in place order has presented a rare window of opportunity for our city to make our streets more comfortable in the present, but also to advance the goals for walkability and livability that we already have. CMABS would like to partner with the City. With our volunteer base and fundraising capabilities, we could potentially assist with outreach, design, implementation, and maintenance.

Lastly, we are pursuing a $10,000 SCAG Local Community Engagement and Safety Mini-Grant to fund a summer project. We would like to collaborate to determine how best to use these funds for the benefit of Costa Mesa residents.

Thank you,

Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets, Board of Directors

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