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Council puts the brakes on motorists outside main library

Photo Courtesy Of Darwin Poulos

Motorists in the Los Altos main library parking lot sometimes back up onto San Antonio Road.

Visitors to the Los Altos main library will soon notice something they’ve never seen there before – speed-limit signs posted per recommendations from the Los Altos Traffic and Library commissions.

To slow traffic and improve safety for motorists and pedestrians visiting the library, the city council Sept. 13 voted to post a speed limit – 15 mph – along the driveway from San Antonio Road past the front of the library and history museum through to Hillview Community Center.

“This is a congested area and it’s always going to be,” Councilwoman Megan Satterlee said.

Steps should be taken to minimize the danger to pedestrians, especially children, as they walk toward and away from the library, she said.

After reviewing several suggestions from members of the Traffic and Library commissions, city staff and traffic consultant Steve Fitzsimons, councilmembers authorized the following actions.

• Have library staff consider restricting the diagonal parking spaces along the access road to employees only (the number of spaces not to exceed the number of paid staff).

• Have city staff explore fencing options between public city property and adjacent private property.

• Direct owners of the private property across from the library to remove the electrical box and trim the shrubbery along San Antonio Road.

The options are a good start to protect people’s safety around the library, said Los Altos Library Commission Chairwoman Judith Suelzle.

With no speed limit posted currently, some motorists drive at dangerous speeds, as high as 30 mph, according to the Library Commission subcommittee, comprising Cathie Perga, Darwin Poulos and Suelzle. High traffic volume and dangerous driving make conditions unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists, stated the subcommittee’s report, submitted to the Traffic Commission last March.

Subcommittee members counted 200 cars traveling on the access road within a one-hour period on a weekday, Poulos said. Drivers backed out of the diagonal parking spaces in front of the library to make illegal U-turns and exit onto San Antonio Road, often blocking traffic in both directions and sometimes causing cars entering the library to back onto San Antonio. When the one-minute parking slots are full, drivers often parallel park along the curb of the access road across from the book return, impeding traffic flow in both directions.

Three signs at a cost of $800 will be posted around the library, according to Larry Lind, Los Altos senior engineer.

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