San Jacinto City Council approves needed pedestrian and bicycle safety projects

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The narrow sidewalk at east of the San Jacinto Cemetery on San Jacinto Street, which is impassable due to the location of the power pole, will be improved by the city of San Jacinto in the next two years as part of the recently approved street safety plan. Valley News/Tony Ault photo

The San Jacinto City Council considered necessary street safety projects to be completed within two years and extended an urgency ordinance allowing restaurants and hair care businesses to operate outside until the coronavirus pandemic subsides, during the regular city council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 4.

The teleconference meeting also heard the council giving unanimous approval to a “for” explanation on the proposed one cent sales tax measure being placed before the resident voters in the Nov. 3 general election ballot written by the city.

The five-member council all reported their presence in the teleconference and heard a final complete Streets Safety Assessment Report made by Stuart McKibbin and the city engineering staff based on studies made by Fehr and Peers consultants hired by the city in 2019.

The study was conducted with the approval of the council who expressed concern for keeping the public safe on the streets of the city. Public safety for the council and city staff reached beyond just fire and police protection by looking into ways to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety on city streets.

The objectives of the CSSA are to improve safety and accessibility for all people walking and biking in San Jacinto, the staff reported. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rough pedestrian pathway on Menlo Avenue east of San Jacinto Street in San Jacinto may become a safe sidewalk with the city council’s approval of a two-year street safety plan, Aug. 4. Valley News/Tony Ault photo

The report outlined four major projects, some of which have already begun, where better safety for pedestrians and bicyclists are critical. Those projects include: improved or new sidewalks between San Jacinto Avenue and Midway Street; those between Esplanade Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue; and from San Jacinto Avenue to Seventh Street. The sidewalks and walkways for the students at Megan Cope Elementary School were also placed on the priority list, by the consultants and engineers.

The staff showed photos of the sidewalks that are currently in use which some are far too narrow and blocked by telephone poles, along southbound San Jacinto Avenue in front of the cemetery, or not in existence today. Proposed plans for those projects were also discussed finding favor with the council. The report, in detail, may be found in the city’s Aug. 4 agendas and meetings on the city website.

Crystal Ruiz, mayor pro tem of San Jacinto, said, “I am glad to see the projects moving forward.”

Mayor Andrew Kotyuk said, “This has been a long time coming. It couldn’t be at a better time.”

Councilmembers Alonso Ledezma, Joel Lopez and Russ Utz all agreed, praising the staff for getting funding for the project. The recommendations in the report were accepted in a 5-0 vote.

There was little direct discussion about extending the current urgency ordinance to allow restaurants and hair care salons to move their services outside on the sidewalks or driveways to comply with the latest coronavirus business closure orders issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom and county health authorities. The urgency ordinance was extended until restaurants can resume indoor dining and barber shops and hair salons are able to open their doors once again.

The earlier urgency ordinance was initially to end by Aug. 4, but the state is still staying with its original closure order from July 1. The urgency allowed businesses to operate on sidewalks or parking lots so long as they are not hindering pedestrians or motor vehicle movement.

In other business the council mulled over the wording it will be using to explain the one-cent transactions and use tax that will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. The proposed one-cent sales tax money would all stay in the city and be used as general fund revenues but be spent mostly on public safety and needed infrastructure repairs.

The council gave its consent to make a professional services agreement extension with Dave’s Hauling, right of way cleanup work for the next nine months and contract with Sierra Pacific Industries and California Choice Energy Authority on behalf of San Jacinto Power.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.