By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City settles lawsuit over signs
A stop sign.tif
A controversial stop will remain on Fowler Road at Lunar. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier file photo

Action recently taken by the Ceres City Council completes the terms of a settlement of a lawsuit against the city relating to the controversial stop signs on Fowler Road at Lunar Drive.

The city was sued by Sherri Jacobson and her "Citizens for Ceres" group after the city in April 2013 ordered that the intersection become a three-way stop. Jacobson, who lives at the intersection, sued since the city admitted that traffic warrants did not justify a stop. City officials installed the stop signs in an answer to complaints about speeding on the street.

Fowler Road is a major route for parents to access Sam Vaughn Elementary School to the east as well as Eastgate residents to travel to Mitchell Road.

The city settled the lawsuit with Jacobson by agreeing to three conditions.

The first condition called for the city to conduct a new traffic study to determine the effects that the new stop signs have on traffic.

The second term called for the city to hold a public hearing to consider the effectiveness of the stop signs. The city held that hearing and determined that the signs have improved the speed related traffic safety concerns.

The third condition was carried out on July 28: The adoption of a policy that the city will notify property owners who are within 300 feet of a proposed stop sign that does not meet traffic warrants.

The agreement spells out that the city is not admitting any wrongdoing in setting up the stop signs.

Jacobson showed up at a July Ceres City Council study session and offered video of numerous vehicles failing to come to a complete stop at Fowler Road at Lunar Drive in her push to have the stop signs removed. But the video -- intended to "show the ineffectiveness of the stop signs" -- actually backfired. Members said while "rolling" stops occur at virtually all intersections, Jacobson's video showed how traffic was being forced to curb speeding.

"This video was great to see," said Councilmember Linda Ryno, "because while people ... may not be coming to a complete stop ... at least they're slowing down which, if I lived in the neighborhood, I'd be much happier than having them fly down the street."

Jacobson complained that the stop signs mean the squeal of brakes and acceleration after the stop and claims that motorists then speed up to "make up for lost time" from the signs. She cited the fact that in 2013 then City Engineer Toby Wells claimed there were no warrants for the stop sign and stated his belief that stop signs do not make for effective remedy for speeding.

In 2013 Mayor Chris Vierra, who is a private-sector engineer, also didn't feel the stop signs were warranted but he was outvoted.

A number of residents living in the area credited the stop signs for reducing speeds of traffic on Fowler Road. Roy Hawkins said "the stop signs have done wonders. We used to see the cars come by - I bet they were going almost 50 by the turns - and now that has just about stopped."

Wells said the city can be sued for anything but faces some level of liability for approving stop signs without the warrants but removing them would be equally risky.

City officials met with the neighborhood in late 2012 and heard of concerns about fast vehicles and launched an enforcement campaign. Police issued 52 traffic citations during a 40-day period, with all cited drivers traveling at least 10 mph faster than the 25mph speed limit.