Letter to the Editor: More safety measures needed for East Ocean Air Drive area

I applaud the Torrey Hills community’s efforts to slow traffic on East Ocean Air Drive by reducing the speed limit from 40 to 30 mph. However, in my view, additional measures will have to be taken if safety is to be significantly improved in the area. I have lived there since the first houses were built 11 years ago, and since I walk my dog in the vicinity every day, I can say from long experience that speeding cars represent a clear and continuous danger in that neighborhood.

East Ocean Air Drive runs from a point just east of Carmel Mountain Road, westward past the Vons shopping center at the intersection with Carmel Mountain, and on toward the various access roads leading to the 5 and 805 freeways. As such, it is heavily traveled by commuters on weekday mornings and evenings. And at all times of the day and night, on weekdays and weekends, far too many drivers travel on it at speeds of 50 to 60 mph, untroubled by the blind spots resulting from curves and the crests of hills.

The worst of the drivers routinely exhibit complete disregard for the safety of the people walking or jogging along that road and especially the people crossing it, a good number of them residents of the housing developments and the large apartment complex on the south side of East Ocean Air. Over a distance of nearly a mile, there is only one crosswalk on East Ocean Air Drive (at Senda Acuario) between the shopping center at Carmel Mountain Road and Calle Mar de Mariposa, the street leading to Torrey Hills Elementary School. So naturally children cross East Ocean Air at odd points on their way to the school, just as adults do as they head for the nearby park to exercise, walk their dogs, or push their young children or grandchildren in strollers.

Many times I’ve witnessed (or been in) situations where a speeding driver is fast approaching a spot where someone is crossing East Ocean Air Drive. The driver neither stops nor even slows down, despite the legal and moral requirement to yield to pedestrians and to be especially cautious in residential areas. Instead, the driver maintains his excessive speed and SWERVES AROUND the anxious pedestrian, crossing into the only other lane on the road and creating the risk of a head-on collision with a vehicle coming from the opposite direction.

Such drivers will certainly not be deterred from speeding or recklessness by a 30 mph sign. So in addition to lowering the speed limit, we must propose other remedies. I believe that two more stop signs and crosswalks are called for along East Ocean Air Drive, preferably at the points where Vereda Mar Del Sol and Corte Jardin Del Mar intersect it. The first of these residential streets lies at a point where westbound drivers tend to speed up; the second is on a stretch where a sharp curve and a hill crest create blind spots for drivers moving in both directions.

Additional stop signs accompanied by crosswalks would provide a threefold benefit. First, they would slow the traffic on East Ocean Air Drive. Second, they would improve safety conditions for pedestrians, particularly children and older people, who may be less alert to traffic dangers or less able to move quickly out of harm’s way. And third, for residents of the housing developments along that road, they would significantly reduce the risk of being broadsided by a speeding car as they turn from their side street onto East Ocean Air Drive. If these extra measures are not yet part of the community discussion, I urge residents of Torrey Hills to take them under consideration.

Winnie Woodhull