Carmel Valley planning board green lights stop sign for problem intersection on Worsch Drive

By Karen Billing

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board approved a stop sign for a problem intersection on Worsch Drive where it turns into Carmel Park Drive at Santa Nella Place. The board voted 12-1, with one abstention, at its Feb. 27 meeting and the sign could be in place within the next 45 days.

The sole dissenting vote was vice chair Manjeet Ranu who said this problem exists throughout Carmel Valley and they can’t continue to just throw up stop signs.

“A stop sign is one way to deal with calming traffic, but there are many different ways to solve this issue,” Ranu said.

Ranu said they should aim to solve these issues through design, such as necking down a street or creating a pedestrian refuge island that can actually enhance the look of a neighborhood as well as slow traffic. He said he knows those design solutions cost money and take some time but he suggested that it is perhaps time to put Carmel Valley’s big, wide roads on a “diet.”

Planning board chair Frisco White agreed and proposed that the board form a subcommittee to take a comprehensive look at design solutions for Carmel Valley’s streets. He said the community does have available Facilities Benefit Assessment (FBA) funds for those kinds of improvements.

Neighbor Joe Rossettie spearheaded the effort for the Worsch Drive stop sign and presented a petition last week signed by 105 people, 85 of them residents and frequent pedestrians, and 20 who have a vested interest in the issue, such as Carmel Del Mar Elementary School Principal Eileen Delaney.

Rossettie became serious about pushing the issue after a December 2013 accident at the intersection that almost resulted in children getting hit by cars.

The portion of Worsch Drive features a downhill and a curve going south and Rossettie said people can pick up speeds there very quickly. Many families use the Santa Nella cul-de-sac as a drop-off spot for children as the court abuts a pathway that leads right into Carmel Del Mar School.

Pedestrians on the west corner of Santa Nella face a completely blind corner due to the curve. They have to venture out nearly halfway into the lane of oncoming traffic to see if any cars are coming up the hill.

“It isn’t just about kids. Residents cross the street to use the trail or to go shopping,” Rossettie said. “It’s just not a safe intersection.”

During public comment at the meeting, a married couple (the Hornblowers) who have lived in the community for 28 years, said they do not feel it is a problem intersection. They said the majority of the people do not speed and there is not a need for a stop sign.

Another resident who spoke up in favor of the stop sign agreed that it is a small community and speeding isn’t constant but the cars that do speed, paired with the line of sight issues, create enough of a danger to warrant a stop sign.

The board’s approval of the stop sign included that some signage be posted ahead of the stop sign to help residents adjust to the change initially and continue to serve as a reminder moving forward.