Dufferin Closure Between Stewart and McAllister: Public Hearing
Update 07/16/09: http://www.riversideandbeyond.com/dufferin-is-closed-at-mcallister-what-now/
Update 07/14/09: www.riversideandbeyond.com/dufferin-to-close-council-votes-unanimously/
The City of Riverside intends to close Dufferin Avenue between McAllister Parkway and Stewart Street, eliminating the intersection at McAllister Parkway and Dufferin. For residents of nearby communities including Bridgeport, Stone Harbor, The Orchard and Victoria Grove, this action will cut off a vital route for shopping, work, school, etc. More importantly, it will also cut off the only alternate route for residents in this area to “get down the hill” and/or access the 91 in an emergency or if La Sierra is ever blocked.
If this will affect you, the City of Riverside has set a hearing for July 14, 2009 at 1 p.m. (details below). I plan to be there.
Update. New documents July 10, 2009:
– City Council Agenda for July 14, 2009 which lists the 1 p.m. hearing
– City Council Memo dated July 14, 2009 recommending approval of the “traffic modification and street vacation of Dufferin Avenue” (closure)
Update. New documents posted July 6, 2009:
– Public hearing notice published in the Press Enterprise on 07/06/09
– Public hearing notice posted on Dufferin Avenue (as of 07/06/09)
I first found out about this when I saw bright pink signs posted by residents around the intersection of McAllister and Dufferin announcing the closure of Dufferin. Since then I’ve found the following documents:
- Riverside City Council Memorandum dated June 9, 2009 from the Community Development Department Planning Division to the Honorable Mayor and City Council, with attachments (“The Memo”); read The Memo by clicking here
- Resolution No. 21836 adopted by the Riverside City Council on June 9, 2009 (“The Resolution”); read The Resolution by clicking here
The County of Riverside sent a letter to the City dated April 23, 2009 (pages 27-31 through 27-33 of the Memo) raising some issues and requesting additional steps before moving forward. The County is supposed to build a street (referred to as “A” Street) from McAllister Parkway to Van Buren to provide much needed access to the residents that will be affected by this closure, but the street has not been constructed and, according to the letter, “is not apparently moving forward at this time”. I appreciate the letter written by the County, and hope that our County Supervisor, Bob Buster, actively gets involved to make sure that this vital access is not removed. If you would like to contact Bob Buster, click here to visit his website.
Why is the City taking this action? Section 5 of The Resolution states that it “is necessary to minimize neighborhood concerns regarding cut-through traffic, speeding, and public safety.”
Let’s examine these claims (pages cited are from The Memo):
- Minimize neighborhood concerns. According to the Draft Planning Commission minutes from May 7, 2009 (pages 27-73 through 27-80), 20 out of 30 speakers spoke in opposition to the proposed closure. In addition, this closure directly benefits three properties on Dufferin within the City of Riverside, which will have driveway approaches installed at the “knuckle” so they will have continued access to Dufferin and Stewart (page 27-6). The rest of us will have no access. This closure will be for the benefit of a few but the detriment of many.
- Cut-through traffic. Only 39% (556 out of 1,415 trips) of all peak hour traffic entering Dufferin Avenue at Van Buren or McAllister Parkway is cut-through traffic according to a traffic study conducted on February 19, 2009 (pages 27-73 and 27-9). So, while this closure will take away a vital route from many residents, it will only reduce 39% of the traffic. Although the “39%” was incorrectly calculated as 51% when the traffic study was first reported, the City’s Associate Planner stated that the mathematical error does not affect the staff’s recommendation to proceed with the closure “as it continues to represent a significant amount of traffic cutting through the greenbelt”. I would bet that much of the “39%” will end up on Victoria, so I’m not really sure what this closure will accomplish. Also, this traffic study was conducted while the La Sierra / 91 interchange was being constructed (as pointed out in the County’s letter referenced above), so the 39% very well could be inflated.
- Speeding. At best, this may eliminate 39% of the speeders, but it won’t eliminate speeding.
- Public Safety. Which public? For many County residents who live in the area, this closure will take away the only alternate route to access Van Buren, Tyler, the 91, etc. in the case of an emergency and/or La Sierra closure. Removing access to an alternate and more direct route that will be crucial in an emergency does not seem to promote public safety. One of the speakers at the May 7, 2009 meeting stated that an ambulance used this route to take him to the hospital, and that if the ambulance had taken the longer route, “he would probably be dead”.
The communities most affected by this are within the City of Riverside’s sphere of influence. I thought this meant that the City would consider the needs of both City and County residents when making planning decisions. From the City’s General Plan 2025 page LU-129:
Riverside’s planning area includes all of the land inside the City’s corporate boundaries plus land within its sphere of influence. A sphere of influence is composed of adjacent and near unincorporated lands that may be expected to become annexed to a City at some date in the future. […]
The City will continue to work closely with residents of potential annexation areas to ensure that community character and feel can be preserved to the maximum extent.
Unfortunately for us residents, it seems that being in the sphere of influence means the City of Riverside doesn’t want us to use its streets.
From Resolution No. 21836 adopted by the Riverside City Council on June 9, 2009:
BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Riverside, California, as follows:
Section 1: That the City Council of the City of Riverside hereby declares that in Planning Case No. P09-0205, its intention to modify the traffic pattern at the intersections of Dufferin Avenue and Stewart Street and Dufferin Avenue and McAllister Parkway, pursuant to Section 21101 of the California Vehicle Code and the Circulation and Community Mobility Element of the General Plan to provide for the construction of a permanent knuckle at the Dufferin Avenue and Stewart Street intersection, the removal of access at Dufferin Avenue and McAllister Street by the installation of a six-foot high fence at the southwesterly portion of Dufferin Avenue at McAllister Street.
Section 2: That the City Council of the City of Riverside hereby declares that in Planning Case No. P09-0206, it is the intention to set a public hearing to vacate a portion of Dufferin Avenue between Stewart Street and McAllister Parkway, within the City of Riverside, California, for the reason that the portion of said street is unnecessary for present and prospective use. […]
Section 7: The date, hour, and place for hearing all persons interested in the proposed traffic pattern modification measure at the intersections of Dufferin Avenue and Stewart Street and Dufferin Avenue and McAllister Parkway, and the vacation of Dufferin Avenue between Stewart Street and McAllister Parkway, is set as July 14, 2009, at 1:00 p.m. in the Art Pick Council Chambers of the Riverside City Council located adjacent to City Hall at 3900 Main Street, Riverside, California.
I am a fan of the City of Riverside. We eat at restaurants in the City, shop in the City, go to church in the City, and send my daughter to school in the City. I even wrote a review of the recent AVP event and complimented the City on a great event.
But in this case, I believe that the City is completely wrong and should consider the needs of all residents in its sphere of influence, not just those within the City.