A group of parents and their children are petitioning Pleasanton city leaders for an additional crossing guard at Vintage Hills Elementary School, citing an intersection they say poses a threat to their children's safety.
Three Vintage Hills students were among those who argued their case for the extra crossing guard during public comment at the Feb. 19 City Council meeting. They also presented a petition signed by more than 100 people and requested adding more traffic safety features at the corner of Concord Street and Grillo Court, a narrow cul-de-sac and primary drop-off and pick-up point for families avoiding waiting in front of the school.
Parents like Kate Duggan, mother of two children enrolled at Vintage Hills, told the Weekly that drivers frequently speed in and out from Grillo. "I've been crossing it for years so I'm used to it, but I don't feel comfortable," Duggan said. "I don't trust the parents is what it comes down to."
"It's only 10 or 15 minutes a day," Duggan said, but witnessing countless close calls over the years has made her nervous every day during that brief period.
Drivers waiting on Grillo for a break in traffic suddenly dart onto Concord without stopping for students stepping into the crosswalk, she said, while others trying to make unprotected turns onto Grillo from Concord and avoid the designated drop-off and pick-up zone at the front of the school encounter similar circumstances.
A letter with the group's petition described three 8-year-old boys almost being hit in January while in the crosswalk and "the driver rolled down the window and told the kids to be more careful."
Another parent recently witnessed a driver "accelerate into a crowd in the crosswalk and then actually flip off the kids and parents crossing the street."
One parent also recently hit a car with their hand that was backing up into the crosswalk "filled with kids" as the driver was executing a three-point turn at the neck of Grillo.
Christy Duncan-Anderson, another concerned member of the group, said many parents turn around at that area to save time circling back around in the court and added that driver behavior is at its worst in the morning, when many people are hurrying to work.
Vintage Hills principal Ann Jayne added her support to the initiative, stating in a letter that "it is a dangerous area and has become increasingly so." A crossing guard posted just down the street said there are "a lot more cars, drop-offs than there used to be," adding to the congestion.
Visibility is also more of a safety issue when motorists illegally park in the red zone close to the corner on Grillo, so the city's Transportation Division is adding another red curb in several weeks. Traffic engineer Mike Tassano said it should "de-congest the throat of the court so that there's fewer elements to negotiate as they try to gain access to Concord."
The city has moved crossing guards to different locations before, but Tassano said pleasing everyone wasn't possible. "Moving guards ... isn't something we can do, so we try to limit the number of crossing guards we have to elementary schools and try not to go more than two guards per school," he added.
The city's Traffic Safety Committee will review the traffic volume and make a recommendation ask for another crossing guard this spring. If approved, the new guard would be installed by fall and funded by the Pleasanton Police Department.
For the moment, school officials and neighbors have added traffic cones by the red zones to discourage illegal parking and improve visibility at the crosswalk.