Monroe neighborhood’s attempt to solve speeding was blunted, but now city making uniform policy
Michael Whitney photo
Monroe Police last week set up a speed limit trailer on Rainier View Road, where neighbors want to see unsafe speeding halted. The neighborhood posted its own radar signs up for many months until being given a takedown notice saying the independent act posed liabilities for the city. The neighborhood is asking to work with the city to give a legal permit to put permanent speed signs back up.
MONROE — A frustrated neighborhood’s aim to have drivers respect a 25 mph speed limit, which led to erecting its own speed alert signs, is prompting the city to develop a uniform policy on traffic control.
Sinclair Heights neighbors have struggled with speeders on their main street, Rainier View Road, since the neighborhood was built about 2004, said Arin Hedin, one of five people on the homeowner’s association (HOA) board.
Hedin blames inconsistent enforcement for why the neighborhood took matters into its own hands. The neighborhood paid for its own speed radar signs and put them on poles. Neighbors said drivers responded by slowing down.
One glitch: State and city law says you can’t put up your own radar sign, not even in your yard. The signs came down a few weeks ago when the city warned it is a legal liability.
So, the neighborhood petitioned to get a city permit to put its signs back up. No luck. Last week, the City Council voted 5-1 to deny Sinclair Heights’ application since it is illegal. (Council President Heather Rousey dissented.)
The road off of Chain Lake Road goes through Sinclair Heights first, but is also the route to reach homes in the Trombley area and the Eaglemont subdivision developments which have slowly surrounded Sinclair Heights. Eaglemont has brought more than 3,000 homes that weren’t there 10 years ago.
Offending drivers pass through at 30 to 35 mph, and some clip by upward of 45 mph, from data the radar signs collected while it was up. Hedin says the signs counted 330,000 vehicles during the near-11 months they were up.
The next morning after the meeting, Monroe Police stationed a speed radar trailer on the road. Mayor Geoffrey Thomas directed the police chief to work with the neighborhood. A Tribune reporter visited the evening of Thursday, April 29 and saw that most drivers stayed under 25 mph where the trailer sits.
Neighbors note the speed trailer is temporary, though, and say speeds will creep back up if a sign’s not posted or if no police officer is sitting there.
“Please allow us to reinstall our radar signs or install alternative measures at the city’s cost,” Lisa Brown, a Sinclair Heights HOA board member, asked the City Council.
Speed bumps could be an option, Hedin said.
Two neighbors said families don’t feel safe enough to let kids play near the street.
There have been crashes.
Drivers coming down the hill approach a tight kink at the edge of the neighborhood where there’s a retention pond. Residents have seen three cars end up in that pond in the past two years, Hedin said. One destroyed a neighbor’s car parked on the street before continuing on into the pond.
The city previously handled traffic control applications on a case-by-case basis. The situation at Sinclair Heights is prompting a citywide policy on traffic control measures to be developed.
Council members broadly agreed last week that the city needs a uniform policy, voting 6-0 to direct creating one.
The City Council will be discussing this as soon as later this month in the “P3” City Council subcommittee, and the full council will likely take a look in June or July.
Neighbors hope a bypass road, 191st Avenue SE, which the city had been working on would send traffic away from Sinclair Heights. That road would connect from the west of the Sinclair Heights neighborhood on Rainier View Road with a straight shot to the roundabout near Walmart.
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