Neighbors’ concerns prompt Carmel Valley board to rescind decision on High Bluff stop sign

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board recently rescinded their approval for a stop sign at High Bluff Drive and Grandvia Point as they seek more community input.
The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board recently rescinded their approval for a stop sign at High Bluff Drive and Grandvia Point as they seek more community input.
(Karen Billing)

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board voted to rescind their March 26 decision to install a stop sign and crosswalk on High Bluff Drive after hearing concerns about noise, pollution and quality of life expressed by the residents who live on the corner where the sign would have been installed.

The residents, Christina and Frank Winter, said they were unaware of the board’s impending action last month and requested a further analysis of possible solutions and more community outreach.

The April 23 decision to rescind approval for the stop sign on High Bluff Drive and Grandvia Point was not unanimous — a 9-3 vote.

Board member Shreya Sasaki said she was concerned about setting a precedent and didn’t want revisiting prior decisions to be a part of the board’s monthly process. Chair Frisco White said that this was the first time in his 15 years on the board that he has made such a request.

“We are a community-centric board, and it’s in our best interest to give an opportunity for the residents to air their issues,” White said. “We’re here for the community.”

Resident Sean Coughlin initially made the request for the stop sign at the three-way intersection near Overlook Park. There is no safe way to cross the street, and the curve of the street makes crossing over to the park dangerous for the families who live in the area. Coughlin said he had walked the neighborhood and gathered 68 signatures in support of the stop sign, and many were excited by the board’s March 26 decision.

The Alta Mar HOA board that represents the neighborhood told Coughlin that they were in favor of the stop sign, but they failed to notify residents that the process was in the works.

The Winters said that they were never approached by Coughlin and that they heard about the stop sign plans only three days before the March 26 meeting, which they were unable to attend.

Christina Winter said they have lived in their home on Grandvia for 21 years and raised two children without incident, just telling them to use “common sense” when crossing.

“The noise of acceleration and deceleration is going to be a problem and impact our quality of life,” she said, noting that all their bedroom windows face the sign, which will be only 40 feet away.

The Winters said they represent five other residents who are against the stop sign.

“I feel there is no factual analysis that this is a problem,” said Frank Winter, adding he didn’t see the need to degrade their quality of life to solve a problem that does not exist. “We’d be forced to bear the burden for the entire community.”

Coughlin said while it may seem like there is animosity between the neighbors, they are making an effort to collaborate.

“I respect their opinion,” Coughlin said of the Winters. “But if you buy a house on the corner of a busy road, I think there’s a reasonable expectation of some noise, and that a stop sign might be put in at some point.”

He said people can use all the common sense in the world to cross the street, but if a car comes quickly as he’s pushing his 6-month-old in a stroller and holding his 5-year-old’s hand, there might not be enough time to get out of the way.

Board member Ken Farinsky said he knows there are a lot of little kids like Coughlin’s in the neighborhood and he would have a hard time voting against the stop sign. As the Neighborhood 5 representative, Farinsky agreed to work on gathering more community input and exploring other alternatives.