Bay Park

Bay Park's ‘Visibility Vigilante' Alters Speed Limit Sign to Get Drivers to Slow Down

Neighbors want the city to install stop signs or speedbumps at the intersection, but the city says the street doesn’t qualify for those traffic calming measures.

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Some North Bay Park neighbors are worried someone could be killed if the city doesn’t step in to stop speeding in their neighborhood. It’s happening near Clairmont High School. It’s is an issue neighbors say has been going on for years.

A neighbor who goes by “Visibility Vigilante” recently installed blinking LED lights on a speed limit sign located at Brandywine and Vista de la Bahia -– which is illegal – to slow down drivers.

Twenty-five mph is the posted speed limit on Brandywine Street -- about 0.3 miles downhill from Clairmont High School -- but neighbors estimate many people drive more than 20 mph above the speed limit.

“It’s so frustrating. It’s so dangerous,” neighbor Larry Hemmerly said. "I’ve talked to the police, I’ve talked to the city manager.”

Hemmerly and his family have been hit four times by drivers who speed past their home. Now, most neighbors back into their driveways so they’re not blindsided.

For more than a decade, Mike Gawarecki has also tried to get the city to install stop signs or speed bumps.

“They’re going too fast. It’s a residential area,” Gawarecki said. “Mainly, when school is in, in the morning because they’re late and they come up the hill at 45, 50 mph and at night.”

The city responded by letter in 2009 saying “an inappropriately placed stop sign may decrease safety,” and road humps are not recommended because Brandywine Street is classified as a collector street, designated as an emergency response route and the fire department doesn't allow them.

“Sounded kind of lame to me,” Hemmerly said. "They can go through a stop sign anytime they want.”

Wednesday, the city told NBC 7 it has evaluated the street multiple times, and in June 2020 conducted a 24-hour study of traffic volumes and vehicle speeds. The city found that most drivers go 9 mph over the speed limit and the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) was 1,067 vehicles per day.

In order for a street to qualify for traffic calming measures like speed lumps or v-calm signs, the city said it focuses on streets that have speeding of 10 mph or more above the posted speed limit. Based on city council policy, Brandywine Street is currently not a candidate for traffic calming. The city said it can re-evaluate again in a few years to see if the speeds change.

“The City of San Diego has responded to the communities concerns and will continue to evaluate the area at which time traffic counts and speed averages meet the conditions for installation of stop signs and speed signs,” city spokesman Anthony Santacroce said.

Neighbors said the city painted a white line to help keep drivers from crashing into vehicles parked on the street, and on occasion, officers will give out tickets but they’re concerned it’s not enough.

“It just seems like the city doesn’t really care. So, I’ve saved the documentation. If someone gets hurt seriously, I’ll just give the documentation to the families of the injured and the city will care then when they have to pay out millions of dollars in damages because they could have prevented it,” Gawarecki said. “It’s just a stop sign.”

The city said it also did evaluations for traffic calming measures, including flashing radar speed signs which also failed to meet the criteria for implementation on Brandywine Street.

Neighbors said their next step is to create a petition for a stop sign.

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