Impact of this project on our neighborhood health and safety

View the slide presentation made to the Planning Commission here...

1.    Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Planning Commission.

2.    I’m here today to bring to your attention to the significant negative impacts on our neighborhood relating to parking, pedestrian safety, residential street safety, noise, air pollution and construction traffic.

3.    The applicant proposes that all retail, office and residential traffic enter and exit by way of the alley located behind the project site.  Both alley exits intersect with our residential streets. We did not see any required mitigation for a stop sign at either alley exit.  We also noted that the building design has minimal setback at the rear and will most likely create a visibility problem for pedestrians, motorists and delivery drivers.  This particular sidewalk is on the way to the church, pre-school, playground and heart of Kensington.

4.    The applicant promised us in a previous presentation that he would mirror the existing Starbucks building plaza on the corner.  We are wondering if he will mirror this alley exit as well. 

5.    Unaccountably, the analyst performing the Initial Study that formed the basis for the Mitigated Negative Declaration somehow determined that there would not be an increase in hazards for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists due to the proposed design features.

6.    At the very least, a Pedestrian Behavioral Study and Count balanced against a study of the flow of traffic on residential streets would be in order.  We would like to see existing safety issues mitigated as well.

7.    Immediately to the north of the project site, and in the same block, is our community church and center of neighborhood activities.  The church has no off-street parking, so many people walk to community functions.  Many of these activities take place in the early evening as the peak hour traffic generated by the project will be exiting the site.  During elections and weekend events, however, large numbers of people may be coming and going from this location. Unless something is done to ensure that project traffic is directed onto Adams Avenue, the opportunity for pedestrian/car collision will rise.

8.    With the widening of Marlborough Drive and the removal of parking north and south of Adams Avenue, nine on-street parking spaces will be lost.  Patrons running into Starbucks for a quick cup of coffee to go, including the local police, frequently use the gas station parking lot for short-term parking.  As you can see, delivery truck drivers just use the red curb for their short-term parking.  The applicant says that by closing the curb cuts on Adams Avenue some on-street parking will be restored.  However, he has also said that he may re-paint some portion of the curb on Adams white to allow Fedex trucks to make deliveries should he have Fedex/Kinkos as a retail tenant.
9.    In my block of Edgeware Road we will feel the impact of shoppers who don’t want to be bothered with driving underground and parking when they just want to run in and use the ATM and the proposed bank.  We will also be the recipients of traffic when drivers realize that it will be quicker to drive up Edgeware to Alder and then down Kensington Drive, or even Terrace once the bollards are removed, and by pass a traffic signal or two before getting on the freeway.

10. Edgeware Road, south of Adams Avenue, is already the recipient of cut-through traffic from City Heights and East Talmadge, and speeding is causing problems here today.  Parking is already impacted by the local coffee shops, including Starbucks.  Again, the lack of on-street parking brought by this project will only exacerbate an existing problem.

11. Returning to the problem of traffic on our residential streets, I want to point out that as Kensington Terrace customers and tenants choose to take the faster residential shortcuts in and out of Kensington, they will most likely pass our pre-school on Alder Drive.  The pre-school is separated from the church on Marlborough Drive by the alley that runs directly north from the project site and may also be used as an entrance/exit by customers.  Neither this alley nor Alder Drive were included in the Traffic Study.

12. We have tried to have a dialogue regarding the need for a plan to discuss a proper traffic study that includes our residential streets.  We have also asked for a plan that specifically addresses how retail customers and office tenants will be routed directly to and from the project parking garage and Adams Avenue.  We have had no satisfaction on either count.  Posting signs “encouraging” people to turn one way or the other is not the solution. We feel that this omission shows a high disregard for our concerns for the safety and well-being of our families and neighbors.With regard to CEQA, the court noted that under Pocket Protectors v. City of Sacramento (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 903, "relevant personal observations of area residents on non-technical subjects may qualify as substantial evidence."  This particular ruling involved the issues of traffic impact and accidents.

14. Kensington residents already enjoy the game of “drive around the delivery truck”. Our neighborhood streets are too narrow to support the types of commercial traffic generated today.  Even with a twenty foot wide alley, it is to be expected that some number of delivery truck drivers will choose to pull alongside Edgeware Road for quick drop off.  With some portion of the alley painted red and reserved for Fire and Rescue parking, and two entrances for the parking garage and townhome garages, there may not be enough space for concurrent deliveries behind the building and we will see a repeat of this scene on Edgeware Road.
15. One of my neighbors is an Environmental Health specialist and she was kind enough to provide us with these calculations.  She has provided two numbers, not knowing from which direction trucks will exit the project site.  Assuming smaller trucks would be used if the alley were the exit point from the site during underground excavation activities, 2,220 truckloads of soil would move along Adams Avenue, hopefully in the direction of I-15.  If the trucks exited directly onto Adams Avenue, then perhaps larger trucks could do the job with fewer trips, estimated here at 1,222.  That is a significant number of large truckloads moving slowly down Adams Avenue, with a corresponding amount of wear and tear.  Is there a plan to resurface what’s left of our streets after they are done? How long will we have to drive behind these lumbering beasts?

16. Here we have the 4700 block of Edgeware Road again, at the project alley east exit.  Note the existing condition of the roadway surface.  Can our residential streets handle the volume of traffic that the (flawed) traffic study predicts?  Has the City found money in its stressed budget for road improvements in our neighborhood?  How long after building occupancy before my street is full of potholes?

17. Both during construction and after project completion, a great number of our community have major concerns about the impact of traffic, noise and air pollution on our children as we travel to and from, and enjoy, the library and playground.  Adams Avenue and Marlborough Drive will see an increase in traffic composed not only of cars, but of construction equipment in the short-term, and delivery trucks in the long-term. This is a significant impact on the health of our children.

18. I would like to point out a discrepancy concerning the Initial Study and Environmental Assessment that were prepared as part of the MND.  In the study the analyst stated that there were two closed cases concerning Leaking Underground Fuel Tanks at the gas station tanks.  However, a query run against the State’s Geotracker system shows that there is a third Open case at this site.  We do not understand why this was not reported in the Initial Study, and we have not received any information regarding this case.  We have many concerns about the proposal to stockpile soil onsite in order to segregate contaminated soil prior to shipment to offsite disposal facilities.  Runoff of contaminants during rainstorms, or airborne particulate matter during Santa Ana conditions are significant environmental impacts and have not been properly addressed.

19. Everything you hear today in our presentations should present a fair argument that there are significant cumulative environmental effects and substantial adverse affects on people caused by this project.  Yet in the Initial Study Checklist the analyst has dismissed the cumulative impacts and the adverse affects on people that we have demonstrated to you.  We ask that you make no such arbitrary decision.

20. We also ask that you Do Not Certify Mitigated Negative Declaration Number 105244, and that you Deny the Planned Development Permit Number 360181 and Vesting Tentative Map Number 360180.