Councilmember Cedillo Adds Stop Sign In Response To Fatal Hit-and-Run

New stop sign at Avenue 50 and San Marcos Place in Highland Park. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
New stop sign at Avenue 50 and San Marcos Place in Highland Park. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

On September 14, a hit-and-run driver killed 57-year-old Gloria Ortiz. Ms. Ortiz was walking in a crosswalk in the Northeast Los Angeles community of Highland Park. The hit-and-run crime took place at the intersection of Avenue 50 and San Marcos Place, adjacent to Aldama Street Elementary School. According to KTLA5, witnesses stated that the driver “just ran her over, didn’t even turn back.”

Local residents joke darkly that speeding drivers think Avenue 50 is the name of the speed limit, not the street.

Councilmember Cedillo speaking yesterday in front of Aldama Elementary School. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Councilmember Cedillo speaking yesterday in front of Aldama Elementary School. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Less than a month later, yesterday, community leaders joined Los Angeles Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Transportation Department (LADOT) head Seleta Reynolds to highlight city efforts to make Avenue 50 safer. New stop signs were added to the intersection where Ortiz was killed. The existing somewhat-worn continental crosswalk was freshly re-painted, actually freshly re-thermoplastic-ed. @HLP90042 posted before and after photos at Twitter.

Councilmember Cedillo, who has dragged his heels on safety improvements approved for nearby North Figueroa, spoke on his commitment to “street safety, particularly around schools and where people gather.”

General Manager Reynolds emphasized that “the biggest predictor of fatalities on a street is speed, and the biggest factor in speed on your street is design” and reiterated her department’s commitment to making “safety our number one priority.”

Local resident Monica Alcaraz, president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, praised the city’s quick response in adding the stop sign. She described walking to Aldama School as being safe when she was younger. Today, walking her daughter to the school, she fears for their safety. Alcaraz stated that Avenue 50 is dangerous when parents are making illegal U-turns and double-parking at school drop-off and pick-up times, and, then, when the students aren’t around, Avenue 50 is dangerous because so many drivers speed. Alcaraz urged LAPD to spend more time on traffic enforcement there to prevent future tragedies.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    So, council member Cedillo is celebrating slowing down traffic to improve safety on Avenue 50 by putting up a stop sign, but he is unwilling to slow down traffic on North Figueroa St to improve safety by putting in bike lanes–which would also increase the different choices of transportation that people would have.

    Funny how its OK to slow down traffic with intersection signalization, stop signs and pedestrian walk signals, but its not alright to do it by installing bike lanes. Also, why is it that the only type of those safety improvement installations that delays traffic which has to go through the gauntlet of community reviews and approval by the council member is bike lanes.

    Why are safety improvements for bicycling made so much more difficult to do than it is for pedestrians and drivers? Automobile manufacturers are required to install air bags, seat belts, safety glass and safety cells. Pedestrians are afforded the protection of sidewalks, crosswalks and walk signals. Yet, the LADOT doesn’t even bother to do intersection safety improvements for bicycling. Human beings are not born with exoskeletons to protect them.

    Separating people from danger is a fundamental principle of industrial safety, yet that doesn’t seem to apply to people who have to ride a bicycle in mixed traffic with the much greater mass and speed of motor vehicles.

  • ubrayj02

    Look, I can understand Cedillo’s desire to do the right thing (I don’t believe it, but his PR flacks swear that he cares about street safety) – but this is a bullshit piece of infrastructure. Avenue 50 is a bizarre mash-up of the worst of America’s stroad style with a funky, variable width, street car route. The area at Aldama Elementary is a freaking zoo when kids get out of school and a stop and start speedway every other time of the day. It is the same at Buchanan Elementary. The small walk-up retail that is now totally boarded-up with a few marginal exceptions has been crushed by this street design.

    What is actually needed here? I am not a professional placemaker, but the street needs to be re-thought. The lane widths need to be narrowed – but not with paint alone. The film “Poynton Regenerated” (on YouTube) shows how using some passive street treatments, raising sidewalks, using different types of pavement, can have a massive impact on safety and simply on the perceived value and nature of the area. Treating all of Avenue 50 like that one interchange in England is not cost-effective – but we should have that kind of attitude behind whatever changes are made to this street.

    I will bring this up again as well: at nearby Yorkdale Elementary a grandmother was killed and her grandkids severely injured. as she crossed in the corsswalk at a 4-way stop and an incompetent driver ran them all over in January of 2014. Stop signs, and road stripes, are not doing the job.

    Imagine if the pavement as you approach this whole stretch in front of the school looked like the patterned crosswalks LA burns into the asphalt, the curbs disappeared and car parking was done only on one side or in a median strip. Imagine lane width wide enough for vehicles to pass through in an emergency situation, but feeling narrowed by street trees, benches, and the presence of people. The housing along Avenue 50 is quite dense and yet people rarely feel comfortable walking on this street. Go after that problem and I feel that a much more effective solution to what plagues this street will be solved. Also, stop signs frustrate drivers and on this street they are often ignored – there is not consistent enforcement of the rules.

    Here is the video that showed me what a traffic calmed place looked like (as opposed to a traffic calmed stroad):

  • ubrayj02

    I’d also like to say that Cedillo thanking his know-nothing staff and the do-nothing LAUSD board member for diligently working to install this stop sign in exchange for a dead neighbor is DISGUSTING.

    The price of a stop sign is a dead grandmother.

    The price of a road diet is clearly worth more than the life of an 80-year old Korean War vet (Bill Matelyan killed at Avenue 26 just after Cedillo killed the Figueroa For All road diet).

    This is what “community input” means to Cedillo: show me the bodies. He doesn’t believe in preventative measures, only in dancing his public relations dance. Your PR b.s. does not work at the city level.

    His freshman year on council shows how ridiculous his claims to be an experienced statesman were in the 2012 election. He and his staff have pissed off engaged groups of neighbors all over CD1, thrown out years of community work, and have tried to paper over their incompetence with ridiculous public parties and the spending of one-time monies on press-release fodder. Devote some staff time to getting educated on something more than voting trends in CD1. Hire some urban planners, anthropologists, sociologists, or simply people who don’t think the world is one big House of Cards episode in spanglish.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Great example for what can be done to improve safety and livability on a street with businesses and very high traffic volumes.

    Roundabouts (large circle or a square shape in the middle of a intersection that vehicles move around, instead of having traffic signals) are frequently used to keep traffic flowing in several European countries, but these are usually severely limited in how much traffic this type of design can handle and can take up a lot more space than a traditional signalized intersection.

    The end of the video mentions that the redesign cost millions of dollars. This should be minus the amount that would have been spent for new traffic signals and repaving if this project was not installed.

  • J. Mendez

    Too little, too late.

  • James

    The exchange rate in Cedillo’s fiefdom is one dead pedestrian per minor infrastructure project/photo op.

  • James

    I have a hard time Cedillo and his staff are responsible for this. This stop sign was probably a part of an existing plan for the street which was installed early to give him a timely photo op.

  • Joe Linton

    Hmmm… “Existing plan for the street … installed” sounds like what people are waiting for on nearby North Figueroa. Cedillo could have stood in the way of Avenue 50 safety improvements, too, but he didn’t.


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