Having had enough with what they say is a dangerous intersection in front of the Pacific Drive Elementary School in Fullerton, parents showed up to the City Council meeting Tuesday to demand action.
“I’m very concerned that because there’s no light there, and nobody respects the traffic guard … I’m very worried that my children will get hit one day,” parent Angelica Hermosillo told council members during the meeting’s public comment section. “We don’t want to wait until somebody gets hit, or killed … before something gets done.”
Hermosillo also translated the other parents’ and the crossing guard’s concerns to the council.
Crossing guards risk their lives every time they try to stop the traffic because people too often speed through the crosswalk, even when the guard is in the street trying to stop traffic, said crossing guard Laurena Rodriguez. She wants a stop sign at the crosswalk in addition to the streetlight.
After public comment, the parents chatted up Fullerton Chief Dan Hughes, who expressed his appreciation. Hughes has helped increase police patrols in the area to help with the safety issue, said Egleth Padilla-Nancci, who led the group who came to the council meeting.
Later in the week during interviews with a Voice of OC reporter at the school, several parents said another issue is that the crossing guard’s shift ends at 3:15 p.m, which means there is no one there for children in after school programs, which sometimes end after 5 p.m.
Padilla-Nancci said that a lady’s stroller was hit last year, but thankfully it was empty. But as is so often the case, that incident wasn’t reported because the mother was afraid of being deported.
Padilla-Nancci and the parents said that they would at least like a streetlight installed to illuminate the area that they are concerned about, especially when winter hits and night falls earlier.
Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz said his office regularly communicates with school principals regarding safety concerns at the schools, adding that the city is doing an analysis of the area surrounding the Pacific Drive Elementary crosswalk.
Felz said city staff should have an idea within a week or so on what action can be taken at Pacific Drive Elementary. He also said that the issue is not expected to be on a council agenda because it’s in his department’s purview to handle it.
Felz did make it a point to say Valencia Drive is lightly traveled compared to other streets in the city.
However, Padilla-Nancci and other parents say that traffic is heavy in the morning and that district school buses pulling into the lot next to Fullerton School District offices in the morning pose a danger.
“We take this very seriously,” Felz said, adding that depending on the results of the analysis and a study by Southern California Edison on the feasibility of a streetlight his staff could end up pushing for one.
But based on the volume of traffic and the formula cities use to determine where to place stop lights, the three-way intersection and crosswalk wouldn’t warrant a stoplight, Felz said.
Mayor pro tem Jennifer Fitzgerald said that the city is currently addressing the issue with the school district and parents.
Felz doesn’t expect the issue to go before council at their next meeting on Oct. 20. Meanwhile, Hughes is scheduled to meet with parents today, Padilla-Nancci said.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC intern. Please contact him at Scustodio21@csu.fullerton.edu.