Parking and traffic problems, safety and growth were the concerns of residents at the Wilmont (between Wilshire and Montana) Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting on June 16.
Police Chief Timothy Jackman began the meeting by noting that his department has three top concerns: homelessness, youth and gang violence, and traffic and safety issues. The good news about gangs is that shootings are down by 48 percent, due to hard work by both the police and neighborhood groups. With traffic problems, he emphasized that drivers and pedestrians alike must “play the defensive. It doesn’t matter where you are – please pay attention when you’re walking.” He fielded questions about police response time to parking and traffic problems, and said that the current police response time for non-emergencies is about 30 minutes. But “we’re going to be looking at everybody” in terms of their responsibility.
Jackman concluded: “I’ve been here almost six months now and I’m having a blast. I’m thrilled with the involvement of the community.”
Next on the agenda was a report by chair Jeanne Dodson on Wilmont’s parking problem. She told the neighborhood group that she recently met with Planning and Community Development Director Eileen Fogarty, who told her that within the next few weeks the City is hiring a consultant who is an expert on parking. She also mentioned the Land Use and Circulation Element study, which in one year’s time should be reporting its findings, at which time the zoning ordinance will be rewritten to reflect the City’s needs.
Dodson said there is no one solution to the parking dilemma, but that several ideas can be implemented, including diagonal parking, shorter red zones and “hidden” or “shared” parking (the use of parking spaces and lots that are not used full-time, such as church parking lots).
The neighborhood group was asked to vote by paper ballot on several resolutions including support for the Main Street 4th of July parade, a moratorium on building, which several people were in avid support of, and a resolution to get a stop sign at the corner of 4th and Idaho, where a recent pedestrian fatality occurred (smmirror.com/MainPages/ DisplayArchiveArticle.asp?eid=5479).
The stop sign issue bothered many people, and some suggested that the City Council take action. Councilmember Kevin McKeown reminded the group that a process must be followed according to state laws, because if the Council creates a policy, it would be liable for legal actions resulting from that policy. It would be more productive, he said, to go directly to the Traffic Department than the Council.
One man summed up the meeting’s concerns aptly: “We have to look at our individual responsibility every day – and we need to start speaking with our neighbors.”