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    Haunting Words: City Mgt. Recommended But Council Declined "Pending Further Study" Cutting Crossing Guard At 6th/Daisy...One Block From Recent Fatal 7th/Daisy Crash

    (December 28, 2005) -- Earlier this year, city management advised eliminating a crossing guard at 6th/Daisy, one block from the site of December 22 two-car crash at 7th/Daisy that killed a mother and daughter.

    However in July, the City Council voted 8-0 (Reyes Uranga absent) to retain the 6th/Daisy crossing guard "pending further study"...with management indicating at the time that it intends to review that location and others for possible future elimination of crossing-guards as part of an ongoing cost-cutting budget-balancing effort.

    Years ago, parts of 6th St. and 7th St. were turned into one-way streets for traffic exiting and entering the 710 freeway, even though the area west of Magnolia Ave. is basically residential and Edison Elementary School sits directly between 6th and 7th Streets. Locals are aware that traffic now frequently zooms at higher than residential speeds in these areas.

    On Dec. 22, a two-car crash on 7th St. at Daisy Ave. killed mother Maria Alonso Garcia, 41, daughter Rosa Ochoa, 24, and seriously injured a second 15 year-old daughter.

    In May 2005, city management presented the recommendations of a "Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee" comprised of 13 members (none of whom are elected and nearly all of whom are appointed by the City Manager) which concluded that 12 locations citywide (including 6th/Daisy) were no longer hazardous and no longer required an adult crossing guard.

    Nine members of the committee representing Council districts are appointed by the City Manager; one represents the PTA, chosen by the PTA; one represents LBUSD, chosen by LB's School Superintendent; one represents the City Traffic & Transportation Engineer (appointed by City Manager); and one represents non-public schools in the LB area, appointed by the City Manager.

    The Committee's recommendation for 6th/Daisy was:

    This signalized intersection is located at the southeast corner of the Edison Elementary School campus. A pedestrian bridge over 6th Street is provided west of the intersection for students approaching the school from the neighborhoods to the south. Recent school service boundary changes, resulting from the opening of Chavez Elementary School, no longer require students to cross 6th Street to attend their home school. A re-evaluation study conducted in the fall of 2004 revealed that the majority of the students crossing at the intersection do so in the western crosswalk, which is protected from vehicle conflicts by the one-way street and the traffic signal. The re-evaluation study ultimately revealed that the intersection does not meet the Municipal Code warrants for the deployment of an adult crossing guard. In reviewing the study the Committee also concluded that the service boundary change would also result in a marked decrease in the number of students crossing at the intersection in subsequent school years. On November 16, 2004, the Committee voted unanimously to deem this intersection as no longer hazardous permitting the re-deployment of the adult crossing guard beginning with the 2005-2006 school year.

    On May 10, the Council received management's recommendations and sent the matter to the Council's Public Safety Committee (Councilmembers Val Lerch (chair), Bonnie Lowenthal (vice chair) and Patrick O'Donnell (member)) for a hearing.

    On June 20, the Public Safety Committee held an early evening meeting at which city staff reiterated its call to eliminate crossing guards at all 12 locations. However the Committee balked at cutting crossing guards at 6th/Daisy and Palo Verde/Willow, while voting 3-0 to cut crossing guards at ten other management-recommended locations.

    On July 12, the item returned to the City Council, at which time Councilwoman Laura Richardson urged also retaining a crossing guard at Willow/Magnolia. The Council agreed and voted 8-0 (Reyes Uranga absent) to eliminate crossing guards at nine of twelve locations, retaining crossing guards at 6th/Daisy, Willow/Palo Verde, and Willow/Magnolia "pending further study."

    City management publicly acknowledged that eliminating the crossing guards was a cost saving measure but said the cuts were justified on the merits. At the July 12 Council meeting, Assistant City Manager Christine Shippey said cutting ten of twelve crossing guard locations would save $112,000 a year; cutting the third will presumably save somewhat less.

    City Hall Traffic Engineer Dave Roseman indicated at the Council meeting that changes are being implemented at Willow/PV (signal improvements) and at Daisy/6th (reconfiguring lanes near bridge) and added, "I don't want to speak for the committee but I think that they were concerned that they wanted to see the effectiveness of those improvements prior to the removal of the guard."

    However later in the meeting, management reiterated its intention to reexamine the three temporarily spared intersections for possible elimination in the further review...along with up to 15% of other crossing guard locations in the city next year (and in subsequent years).

    The nine locations at which the Council voted to eliminate crossing guards were:

    • Nieto Avenue and Vista Street
    • 7th Street and Olive Avenue
    • Bellflower Boulevard and Arbor Road
    • Lakewood Boulevard and 23rd Street
    • 7th Street and Cerritos
    • Orange Avenue and 60th Street
    • Bellflower Boulevard and Spring Street
    • Bellflower Boulevard and Wardlow Road
    • Studebaker Road and Keynote Street

    If the Council had declined to eliminate crossing guards at the locations proposed, the Council and/or management would have had to come up with commensurate savings elsewhere to remain faithful to a management-created, Council-approved Deficit Reduction Plan.

    LBPD says that on December 22 at roughly 4:48 p.m., a 1995 Honda Accord traveling westbound on 7th Street broadsided a 2001 Kia Spectra (in which the familymembers were killed) going southbound on Daisy Ave.

    The driver of the Honda was arrested and now faces criminal charges.

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