Editor’s note: This article was updated as it incorrectly stated speed cushions were going to be placed on Ladd Lane, Central Avenue and Memorial Drive. Last update was Jan. 4 at 8:37 a.m.
Hollister is considering a speed cushion policy that aims to address residents’ traffic concerns in a timely manner. The Hollister City Council first discussed the policy on Dec. 20, but postponed voting until it can be reviewed at a special council session on Jan. 22 at 9 a.m.
At the Dec. 20 meeting, the council raised concerns over the proposed policy’s language regarding the process of removing speed bumps and the lack of input from fire, police and the council itself.
Hollister’s acting City Engineer Mark Falgout said the policy is meant to provide “an avenue for citizens and for the city to process the citizens’ requests in a timely and efficient manner.”
“It doesn’t change what we’re doing when the council asks us to look at particular streets,” Falgout added, noting that the policy will not deny requests from the council if analyses of specific traffic areas are sought.
As written by the city’s engineering department, the plan for installing speed cushions on public streets is seen as “a means of assisting with traffic calming measures,” and intended “to reduce vehicular speed for passenger vehicles while allowing large emergency vehicles to pass unaffected.”
Mayor Ignacio Velasquez told BenitoLink he has been trying to implement speed cushions in Hollister for several years, but he did not have the support from the previous city council.
Velasquez said Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso suggested the council look into the speed cushions placed in Los Banos. Velasquez said he took pictures of the speed cushions in Los Banos and showed them to the council.
“With this council, they were willing to look at it,” Velasquez said. “This is a policy to try to get people to slow down on those residential streets and respect each other.”
Carol Lenoir, who served on the council from October 2018 to December 2020, told BenitoLink she never saw speed cushions or traffic calming on the agenda during her term.
Lenoir said she suggested placing speed bumps in the city’s speed zones, similar to the ones on Monterey Street in front of San Benito High School, and that she “never would deny traffic calming procedures in residential areas.”
Former councilmember Honor Spencer told BenitoLink that during her term, from December 2018 to April 2021, a presentation on traffic calming was given and the council also held a discussion on the matter.
“I was not against [speed cushions], but just a little concerned with the cost of them,” she said. “Chief Reynoso was interim chief, and therefore was part of the discussion.”
Reynoso said the discussion with the mayor took place before the police department’s motorcycle traffic division was activated. Hollister Police had received many traffic and speeding complaints from residents, said Reynoso, which led him to tell Velasquez about not having enough officers to monitor each of the affected streets.
“I pointed out that several cities around Hollister were using speed humps and that they were very effective in slowing down traffic on residential streets,” Reynoso told BenitoLink. “Watsonville, Sacramento and Los Banos have been using the type that allows fire engines to traverse the speed humps without slowing or causing damage to their frames. The full report was provided to the city council by our planning and streets department about two to three months ago. After the presentation, council decided to order speed humps and install them in several locations on a trial basis.”
Reynoso said this trial is what led the council to pursue the adoption of a full speed cushion policy.
At the Dec. 20 meeting, Councilmember Tim Burns said he had concerns about how the proposed policy was written.
“I’m not supportive of it,” he said, adding that he had requested street cushions to be placed on Beverly Drive, but according to the policy, his request would not be considered since there is not a direct impact on the front of homes in Sunnyslope Village.
“On Beverly Drive, from Sunnyslope to Hillcrest, there are no residents, but then it does appear to be a speedway,” Council member Burns said.
He added that the policy “doesn’t speak” to specific requests from the police or fire departments, council member requests, safety factors, appeal fees, or school zones.
“And there is a 10 year removal policy, that if you request to remove [speed cushions], you couldn’t install speed cushions for up to 10 years after,” Council member Burns added. “I just can’t support it based on this.”
Councilmember Dolores Morales asked about the process of receiving requests from city officials or residents for speed cushions.
Falgout said traffic analysis is part of the installation process, and that data needs to show “a certain percentage of the vehicle trips exceeding the speed limit.”
Falgout said the current policy does not allow speed cushions to be removed for a period of one year once they’ve been installed.
Answering Burns’ question, Falgout said if there was a request for removal, a similar engineering evaluation to the installation evaluation would take place. He said factors such noise created by speed cushions—revving of car engines or the bounce of cars on the cushions—may be a reason for the removal of speed cushions.
Councilmember Rick Perez expressed concern about how the installation of street cushions on one street could impact traffic on neighboring streets. This was also mentioned during public comment by John Bejar, who said the speed cushions placed on Cerra Vista Road, between Sunnyslope and Union roads, have created more traffic on his street, Highland Road, which is parallel to Cerra Vista.
“There were already a lot of cars on Highland, and it just shifted more,” Bejar said. “When they did this on Cerra Vista, before this policy, nobody talked to me. And I live smack dab between Sunset and Vallejo, which are the two stop signs, And in the morning—50 to 60 [mph]—in front of my front window.”
Velasquez told BenitoLink speed cushions will soon be placed on Buena Vista Road.