West side Hollister residents sat down to discuss traffic calming measures along Central Avenue at a June 20 meeting, the first of three. This first meeting follows community opposition to the city’s attempt to put bike lanes on Central Ave.
Frederik Venter, transportation manager at Kimley-Horn and Associates, unveiled a “Complete Streets Toolbox” compiling ideas meant to calm traffic. Kimley-Horn also presented the Brigantino Park concept design back in March.
“We have along that stretch of Central Avenue 17 accidents in the last five years,” Venter said. “All of those would involve bicycle accidents, which is actually very sad because we’re trying to promote bicycles and I think there were kids involved in some of them.”
Some familiar faces were in attendance at the traffic calming meeting, including city program manager Mary Paxton, Hollister Councilman Rolan Resendiz and San Benito County Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz (who both represent constituents on the west side of town).
Venter asked attendees to describe the speeding incidents they’ve witnessed along the street. Sergio Barajas responded: “I live on the corner of Central and Miller and I have been walking my daughter to Calaveras School. And I walk my dog in the neighborhood. So I walk from almost all the way to Locust, which is the end of Central up and all the way to Marguerite. That whole stretch of road is bad for speeding. There are people that do not stop at all at the stop sign there.”
Among the traffic calming ideas that Kimley-Horn proposed was a median barrier at the intersection of Central and Westside Boulevard, and median islands on Central Avenue. The majority of residents responded favorably to both ideas. At the same time, Resendiz said his west side constituents want speed bumps on their streets.
The tool box also included beautification elements such as landscaping and pavement treatments like painted crosswalks.
Regarding landscaping, resident Damaris Barajas asked, “Who would be in charge of paying for the maintenance? Is it another property tax?”
Venter responded that often neighborhood associations help with maintenance, but that ultimately it will cost residents as well as the city.
Regarding the purpose of beautifying elements like pavement treatments, Venter said, “It increases your resale value of your property, not your property taxes.”
Resendez agreed. “Public art helps,” he said, “because it sends a message that we care about our community, we’re taking ownership of our community. And then it does kind of like deter crime and all those other things.”
Two more traffic calming meetings are planned. The next one will be another opportunity for residents to provide input on design concepts, and then Kimley-Horn will come back with a plan. From there, the Hollister City Council will meet to consider the budget for that plan. There is no information at this time on when or where the next meeting will be. Emails will be sent to the June 20 meeting attendees who signed up for updates.