Scotts Valley is a wonderful place to live. Convenience is a large part of what makes it so. Wonderful forest hikes, beaches, libraries, schools, grocery stores, restaurants, and many other wonderful businesses are located quite centrally. However, this advantage has begun to appear as a disadvantage for part of our community. Living so close to many wonderful amenities has begun to alarm part neighbors off of Bluebonnet Lane, as they experience “alarming traffic daily.” According to local David Jones, “Living on Bluebonnet Lane, I have seen speeding traffic, over-weight trucks, traffic endangering SV Middle School students, dangerous conditions for pedestrians (especially seniors and people walking dogs) … In addition, Bluebonnet Lane does not have complete sidewalks and there are no streetlights.”
Jones is further concerned as “[The neighbors] have brought these matters to the attention of the SV City Council; SV Traffic Advisory Commission; the SV Police Department and Fire Department, and the Santa Cruz Metro Transit manager. So far no measures have been taken to remedy this situation.”
I reached out to Tina Friend, the Scotts Valley City Manager, to receive details on the City’s side of the story. Friend began hearing from the Bluebonnet Lane neighbors this past fall when the Aviza Project, a development at 440 Kings Village Road, “which is now being proposed for a residential development… The neighborhood is concerned about the vacant or underused parcel becoming used and bringing in more traffic. Ever since then, they’ve become very strong advocates at every City Council meeting, especially those pertaining to the Capital Improvement Program.” Friend summarized the Traffic Review Committee’s findings, “Sometimes there’s a disconnect between perception and reality… We’ve studied the LoS (Level of Service), it’s the way to measure the road volume, how much it’s being used. 10 months ago, the traffic was far, far less than the road rating (how much traffic the road is rated to handle) … From an engineering perspective on road efficiency, it’s not as high as they experience it.” The most recent study of Bluebonnet Lane reveals an A LoS measure, the highest rank possible, meaning drivers experience little (10 seconds) to no delays on the road due to traffic. Friend further explained the dichotomy between perspectives, “You can live on a residential street, with just housing, but Bluebonnet has been zoned as a high-density street. It has a lot of housing units in a small area, is next to a major shopping center, library, major regional park, and the middle school. The road is intended and designed to connect traffic flow, but they feel their street is more residential.”
Action has yet to be taken on the road, “With public policy, you need to understand the problem before providing solutions. The neighbors have already promoted many solutions, but we still need to study the issue. We can’t shut down an intentional thoroughfare. I don’t mean to say the road is perfect as it is, there could be improvements.” Friend recollected that last fall plans were being discussed to place a flashing traffic sign and replace the missing piece of sidewalk, “there are things to do, but more around pedestrian and bike safety.” However, it may take a while for these plans to come to fruition, “Since the meetings last fall, we’ve hit a tail spin with COVID, a lot of our normal business is very strange now…. We don’t have another Committee Meeting planned.”
According to Friend, the City Council’s “tailspin” involves more than just safety precautions at meetings. “We were already experiencing a budgeting crisis, but with huge losses in our major revenues of sales and hotel taxes, we’re currently rethinking all of our spending.” Keep an eye out for a detailed article on the City of Scotts Valley’s newest budgeting crisis.
Interested in your street? Check out a helpful document on Scotts Valley street performance here: http://www.scottsvalleygeneralplan.com/Links/Fact_Sheet_Mobility.pdf.