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City’s EV fleet charging stations soon to be off limits to public
Dear Street Smarts, Q: Sunday, we went downtown for the 'Eat Like A Greek' festival in our Chevy Volt. I knew that the City Hall parking lot would be ideal--close by and electric charging stations, which I didn't know were free. Well, I was right and all went well. However, parked at three of the four charging stations were city-owned Nissan Leaf's, none of which was plugged in! Can you find the right person to ask: Why aren't the city-owned EVs parked elsewhere in the City Hall lot on the weekends, so the public can have access to all of the charging stations? Thanks. Joe Schwartz, Santa Cruz A: Sounds like things are about to change in regard to public use of that lot. "The City of Santa Cruz has been awarded another Nissan Leaf for our fleet from the Air District, said Cheryl Schmitt, transportation coordinator for the city. "So we are going to convert that one public space at City Hall to a 4th fleet space and find a different location for a public space." Stay tuned on when the changes will come about. Q: Someone on Monroe Avenue in Aptos has set two rows of temporary plastic speed bumps in the road. Since they aren't actually fixed to the road and are made up of multiple sections, they are often disorganized and don't actually seem like they improve safety. Is it legal to do this? Can anyone just decide to install temporary speed bumps in front of their house? Wes Gray, Santa Cruz A: Monroe is a private road so county public works has no jurisdiction; however, the Aptos/La Selva Fire Department may have a problem with the speed bumps as they slow down fire and rescue efforts, as well as increase vehicular damage, traffic on alternate routes, property damage, injuries and civil liability, said Dave Herndon, Division Chief of Fire Prevention. Speed bumps also cause a variety of environmental impacts and violate the Americans with Disability Act. In 2006, his agency published a report on "The Effects of Traffic Calming Devices on Emergency Responses and the Public," when "it became popular to install speed bumps countywide in neighborhoods based on local petitions," he explained. "The report sites that it is inconclusive that speed bumps reduce accidents in area’s that typically are at very low risk for accidents to start with. In fact we see accidents caused by speed bumps for cyclists, skateboarders and vehicles that are surprised to encounter them at normal speeds." Generally speaking, fire departments strongly dislike speed bumps as they are tasked with responding to life threatening emergencies within six minutes 80 percent of the time. Speed bumps, which are hoped to slow down cars in neighborhoods, make fire vehicles slow down too. With fire season ramping up in the midst of a terrible drought season, perhaps ask the folks on Monroe which is more important: controlling the speed of a few drivers or ensuring public safety of many in the event of a disaster? Property owners responsible for sidewalk repairs Last week, a reader wrote in to express thanks to Santa Cruz city staffers who had a hand in increasing safety for cyclists by having vegetation trimmed that blocked the bike lane. This week, those staffers want property owners to know that they are responsible for sidewalks, too. " A lot of property owners don’t know that they are responsible to maintain the sidewalk," said Cheryl Schmitt, the city's transportation coordinator. Read up on property owner responsibilities at http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=33347.
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