The Street Where I Live
Bethra, Community Activist

August 9, 1999

Tonight I went to the regular semimonthly, second Tuesday of the month, meeting of the Valley Glen Neighborhood Association (or Valley Glen Homeowners Association, or Valley Glen Residents Association, or two other variations I can't remember--and they can't decide on, though they have a logo and a web site).

Our councilperson was supposed to be attending this meeting and I had an agenda, so off I went.

I've been invited to six of these meetings in the past but never manage to make it. They are at 7:00 which is a bad time for us, what with dinner and alleged bedtimes. But, this meeting was a priority for me, and since Chuck still owed me big for being gone all weekend while I was home with a sick baby I figured it was my big chance.

As I said, I have an agenda. The street we live on provides a sort of mini-shortcut between two large avenues. People use this shortcut, which is not my issue. The fact that they use it at speeds hovering around 60 mph is my issue. I can't tell you how many dead animals I've seen on my street. I don't want the next roadkill to be someone's kid.

So I want speedbumps. OK, that or a stop sign.

I sat through long, sometimes boring, always semi-disorganized presentations by the Beautification Committee, the Planning Committee, the Finance Committee, the Safety Committee, and finally the Publicity Committee before our featured speaker was given the floor.

I should point out that upon arrival we were issued index cards and pencils to write down our questions for the fair councilman.

I dutifully wrote my question out, printing so there would be no problems reading my impeccable penmanship. I even included my name and phone number on my card. I'm involved, dammit.

My question: How do I go about getting a stop sign or speedbumps installed on my street? I then cited some pithy facts about the dead animals and breakneck speed at which drivers take my street.

I almost didn't turn it in. Was this the right venue for this sort of thing? I was given a handy pamphlet filled with important numbers such as large item disposal and animal control. Perhaps I should call one of these bureaus and see what they could do. But I was there, I figured what the hell. My question couldn't be any worse than anything this motley crew could have dreamed up. It turned out it wasn't.

The truly obnoxious vice president of the neighborhood association (who, btw, saw fit to interject and interrupt every other presentation of the evening with points of his own that could just as easily been left unsaid) was reading the questions out.

I sat through a bunch of questions on topics that had been addressed earlier, but what the hell. Mr. vice president then said he was reading the last question. Was this one finally going to be mine? No. It was something about home-operated business. Pithy, no doubt, but not my issue. Before Mr. Councilman answered the last question he said he'd be taking questions and comments from the floor.

As I heard the last question, not mine, being read, I got ready. I moved to the edge of my seat. I was going to be up running as soon as this man took a breath.

I saw my chance. I raised my hand, stood up, and started talking simultaneously. "How do I get speed bumps or a stop sign installed on my street."

No one laughed. In fact, some people actually said, "Yeah!"

Unfortunately, I then got my answer.

First you have to have 2/3 of the people on the affected street sign a petition requesting said speed bumps. Then this is submitted to both the planning commission and fire department. They both have to approve the request. If the request is approved then it goes to the council for implementation. Sounds great. Right. Well, each council district is limited to two sets of speed bumps per year. Two sets! The other way to go is if we get approval then we can raise the money privately to have the speed bumps installed. Cost: approximately $2000. Ouch.

Stop signs are a little easier to get done but our street doesn't really have intersections so it doesn't lend itself to a stop sign. I don't see the Department of Transportation putting a stop sign in the middle of a block for no apparent reason.

A lesser woman would be deterred. The councilman said that his office could help me with the petition and paperwork. Immediately after he answered my question I got up, approached his aide and got a card. I'll be calling their office first thing tomorrow morning to get the ball rolling. I'm going to print flyers and go door to door to every single person on my street and lobby for this. Maybe I'll even organize some kind of fund raiser to get the money for this.

Oh, and while I was there I signed up for two committees: Publicity and Safety.

Hey, maybe I should run for office?

Until next time. . .