Carmel Valley planning board OKs stop sign at Del Mar Trails Road-Mona Lisa intersection

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board unanimously approved a new stop sign at Del Mar Trails Road and Mona Lisa Street in light of neighbors’ concerns after a pedestrian’s death this spring.

Resident Anna Crotty presented her case before the planning board, arguing that a crosswalk alone does not slow down cars that are traveling upward of 55 miles per hour on the curved residential street.

The board was in favor of the proposal, keeping in mind the tragedy of April 30, when Azita Hafezi-Saghafi, 57, was struck and killed while using the crosswalk at the intersection.

Crotty was previously a part of community efforts to bring a stop sign to Worsch Drive where it turns into Carmel Park Drive and Santa Nella Place in 2014, and a crosswalk for the intersection at Camarero Court and Del Mar Trails in 2012. She said both measures had an impact on pedestrian safety.

“My experience at Worsch is that the stop sign does the job,” Crotty said. “We don’t see perfect behavior, but it’s a huge improvement, and we actually let our children cross the street there.”

After April’s fatal accident, the city changed the color of the crosswalk in July, which Crotty said seemed to make it even less visible. The white paint was replaced with yellow and the “Abbey Road”-style white striping across the inside of the crosswalk was replaced with just two yellow lines.

The traffic study conducted at the intersection did not come up with the numbers to support a crosswalk.

“I was a little disappointed by the traffic study, quite honestly,” said board member Chris Moore. “It took three to four months to complete, and the result was (that) a stop sign was not warranted. It seemed like the same old tired idea … I think it was thinking a little too inside the box. A lot of people were very concerned, and a person was killed. I would’ve liked to have seen a different approach to this intersection.”

Moore said adding a four-way stop would alleviate cut-through traffic and speeding and help make the crosswalk safer, as cars would actually slow down and stop.

Crotty said the city engineer found that there were not a lot of reasons for pedestrians to cross there; but she pointed out that the intersection is near Pacific Sports Resort, a church, two schools and Del Mar Trails Park.

“Not enough people cross because it’s too dangerous,” Crotty said.

While the traffic study didn’t come up with the numbers to support a crosswalk, Crotty did — with a petition signed by 200 people.

Board member Ken Farinsky said Del Mar Trails Road is one of the areas that the planning board’s Livability committee is looking to address with some long-term planning solutions. The road features a bike lane that turns into parking, and the committee has discussed converting the entire bike lane to parking on one side to narrow the road so it doesn’t seem so much like a highway.

The Livability committee is planning a community workshop from 2-4:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Carmel Valley Library. Residents can attend and give input about pedestrian, bicycle and transit issues in Carmel Valley and Pacific Highlands Ranch as the committee works to develop possible solutions.