Monday, January 29, 2018

• Bus Stop Dilemma


UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF BLOG
To catch you up to speed on this issue, here's what I know of it. Sometime last year Wildomar Senior Assisted Living asked if the long time bus stop in front of their business could be relocated. Early in January the bus stop was relocated to the corner of Elm and Palomar. 
The red arrow indicates the location of the bus stop.
The concerns of those that live nearby are multiple. 

First, the buses have been going down the smaller streets (Maple and Illinois). You might be asking, "What's the big deal with that?" 

Those are NOT city streets. 

The city doesn't maintain them (there are quite a few streets like that throughout Wildomar). Any maintenance is paid for directly by the homeowners, and the streets aren't in tip top shape to begin with. Also, the safety of the neighborhood kids was mentioned more than once.
A look at the newly painted red curb, that removes about 80% of it from parking cars.
Second, the red curb (bus zone) was far longer than one would think it should be. By changing the color of the curb to red, it's made the customers of the store either park across the street or risk a ticket by parking in the red (yes, this is Wildomar, and we only have one cop and all that, but the point still stands). Also, the vendors that supply the corner store face the same thing. 

With that established, local resident Sandy Gibbs didn't let much time go by before she started emailing city councilmember Bridgette Moore about her concerns. She also took to posting on a couple of the local facebook pages.
Brian Gibbs looks on as his wife Sandy hands a copy of a signed petition to Jim Kneepkens (off camera) of RTA.
Though councilmember Moore was working on this from the outset, Sandy didn't hesitate long before putting together a petition that her neighbors signed outlining their views on the new bus stop location.
A busy location for a community meeting, but it worked well and gave a chance for the officials to see exactly what the neighbor's were talking about.
Before the informal meeting got started, I had a chance to ask Sandy for her thoughts on the matter. She showed me a time stamped image of an RTA bus using Maple that very day, even though the drivers have been told not to use them before.
Part of the printout that Sandy Gibbs handed to Councilmember Moore.
The meeting was in the vacant lot on the northwest corner of Elm and Palomar. It was attended by a dozen of the neighbors, and in addition to Councilmember Moore, Assistant City Manager Dan York was there as was Jim Kneepkens of RTA.
From left to right, Jeff (I didn't get his surname) Dan York, Bridgette Moore, Jim Kneepkens, Brian Gibbs.
It started with Councilmember Moore giving a brief background as to why the bus stop was moved, and also why their streets aren't maintained by the city. 

Brief background: Parts of Wildomar were built way back when, and the area in question is the original part of town that hearkens back to the beginning, more than 100 years ago. The streets weren't built to modern standards and the county never accepted them as official streets. When Wildomar became a city 10 years ago, they followed suit and didn't accept them as fully dedicated streets either.

It's an interesting concept how they aren't public streets and they aren't private streets either. There is a way to have those become part of the city street scheme, where they would take over maintenance, but that would require an increase in property taxes... and I'm not sure how that actually works if all the residents aren't on board with the idea.

It was asked by Bridgette Moore (and later Jim Kneepkens) if RTA could wait to move the stop until May, since they've just printed up the schedules, and they would be doing so again in May.

The words were scarcely out of her mouth before one of the residents emphatically replied, "No! No it's not ok. You asked, and I answered. No, it's not ok, that's way too long." (The same resident later threatened to park her car in the street, so that the buses couldn't pass, if necessary.)

Councilmember Moore wanted to make sure that the bus riders weren't going to be getting outdated info from printed materials that weren't accurate, and wanted to avoid the needless costs of reprinting guides that will be updated in a few months.

Brian Gibbs offered, "Can't you put a sign on there (the bus stop in question) saying the stop [has been] moved across the street?"

There is a bus stop in front of the post office that runs the same route, about a stone's throw away.
A convergence of three buses were all stopped at the same time while the meeting was going on. There were quite a few riders that got on and off them.
At that, Jim Kneepkens jumped in.

I'm taking blame for what my drivers are doing. I apologize and it will stop tomorrow. We will get out of your neighborhood as soon as we can. We'd like till May, but if you need us out earlier, we can make that happen. 


— Jim Kneepkens, RTA
Though one person wanted the changes sooner, "Tomorrow's good".

Mr. Kneepkens responded that he's going to notify his customers, since they depend on RTA, before any changes are made.

Here's where local resident Jeff (he didn't offer his last name) tossed out something that seemed quite reasonable, "We've got to allow them to have the process, but please, please, for my children's sake, please don't run those buses through Maple anymore."

In the end, it was agreed that the stop will be moved, and that until that's done, the buses will no longer be using the undedicated roads to get to the existing stop.  

As long as the residents had the ear of the locals, they asked several more questions ranging from the streets, graffiti, flooding, and even last year's big sensation — the Camelia Townhouse Project and zoning. 

They should have been reading Wildomar Rap all along and at least that question could have been skipped. ☺

I asked Sandy Gibbs if she was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, and she sure seemed to be. Even before this blog could be finished she'd already posted an update at facebook about it.

Observation time: 

I saw Wildomar city officials, and one from RTA, come to an offbeat location, as the sun was disappearing, to speak to the residents. This meeting lasted about 45 minutes and throughout it all the officials listened, and responded. Even to all the other issues that were introduced.

I don't know. Maybe this is something that happens everywhere else. Maybe LA's Mayor Gil Garcetti meets with a dozen residents too. LOL

Seriously, a big thank you to Bridgette Moore, Dan York (who gave many detailed answers to questions, and invited them all to City Hall on Valentine's day - it being a regularly scheduled city council meeting and all...☺), and to Jim Kneepkens for caring about the community.

What I'd like to see, even if only a dozen or so people show up, is to have townhall meetings in such "offbeat" places as this. Be it at the park, a Starbucks (or the new Bean at the Barn), or an open field, each of the city council members should be doing this once a year, and the Mayor could be doing it twice a year.

The public comment portion of the city council meetings is fine, but how much more grand it would be to have less formal opportunities to speak to the electeds, and some of the higher ranking city staffers. Sure, I know that you're very approachable at city events (which there are many), but others don't know it, and sometimes you're needed in several different directions at once (all five of you, though one of you more than the other four ☺).


If nobody shows up to your townhall meeting (which is an even bet most of the time) then at least you put in the effort.

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U P D A T E
As of February 11th, the bus stop in question had been removed and the red curb painted over. 
Photo courtesy of Sandy Gibbs.
A look at the new location for the bus stop, across from the Jolie Day Spa.
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"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."
– Ayn Rand

Wildomar Rap avoids the consequences of avoiding the consequences by eschewing the consequences instead.

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