Board approves moving Pacific Highlands Ranch stop sign

Pacific Highlands Ranch residents wanted to see this stop sign at the end of their driveway removed or moved.
(Karen Billing)

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board agreed to move -- but not remove -- a stop sign in the Almeria community of Pacific Highlands Ranch at its June 27 board meeting.

In May, residents Susanna and John Tran came to the planning board to request removal of the stop sign at Sunrose Crest Way and Marble River Road which is directly in front of their home.

“We are generally supportive of stop signs but only if they are properly placed,” John Tran said. “We should enhance the safety of the entire subdivision but not at the expense and increasing the danger of the homeowner.”

Several homeowners spoke out against the removal and presented a petition signed by 17 homeowners in favor of keeping the sign.

“Removal of the stop sign would be absolutely reckless, and will put the safety of our children in jeopardy,” wrote resident Zeina Rashid in a letter to the board. “Almost every neighbor on Sunrose Crest Way that I have personally spoken to agrees that removing the stop signs for aesthetic reasons, is not a good enough reason to risk the safety of our families and others.”

Carmel Valley Planning Board Chair Frisco White said he was in favor of removing the sign but there still needed to be a sign on Sunrose Crest. The board unanimously approved moving the sign immediately west, on the other side of the Trans’ driveway.

The stop sign was one of 17 approved by the planning board in October 2018 as part of an effort from the board’s PHR livability subcommittee. The Trans moved into their home in December 2018, the second to last phase of homes in the Almeria development, and they never had an opportunity to voice their opinion. Tran said they were surprised when the stop sign was placed at the end of their driveway in February.

“It creates a hazard when we back out and it’s an accident waiting to happen,” Tran said. “It’s a very awkward position in front of our home.”

White agreed that the stop sign is in “a ridiculous location” so close to their driveway. Moving it down a little to the west was not an option due to a curb cut-out and a fire hydrant.

“We don’t even think there needs to be a stop sign. There’s plenty of stop signs in the neighborhood and reducing one will not affect the safety, ”said Tran, who proposed alternatives of relocating the sign to a half a block east at Sunrose and Clover Hill. He was not in favor of the board’s approved solution as it moves the stop sign further from the actual intersection.

Tran said he and his wife have observed very low volumes of traffic, even at peak times. He said they mostly see traffic from landscaping companies.

Offering a different viewpoint, Sunrose resident Niky Farid said she has witnessed cars traveling at high speeds on the street, particularly in the mornings as some drivers use this street as a short cut to avoid traffic on Carmel Valley Road.

“Although the stop signs do not solve the problem of our street being used as a short cut, they do force drivers to slow down and be more careful,” Farid wrote to the board, adding that the stop sign is essential for the safety of children walking or biking to Solana Ranch Elementary School.

PHR board representative Stella Rogers did not support the idea of moving the stop sign and “kicking the can to neighbor down the road” on Clover Hill. Rogers believed that there needs to be a stop sign somewhere as the speeds generated on that long road will be high without one.

“There has to be something there to slow people down or you are going to see cars blazing through in front of your house,” Rogers said. “To me, that’s way more dangerous than you accidentally hitting the pole.”