More speed humps are coming to Devine streets after the City Council unanimously approved an Ordinance to place two of them on Lorraine Drive during the Regular meeting held on May 18.
Michael Muniz, who lives on Lorraine Dr., brought the request before Council.
“We’ve had a problem for some time with speeders,” Muniz said. “It’s mainly on weekends, late at night, and two weeks ago we had a hit-and-run. Fortunately nobody was injured; I don’t know if they caught them. But they were racing side by side on Lorraine Dr.”
Muniz noted that there are speed humps throughout the city, citing North Bright Drive and Jack Nicklaus Drive by name, and said that a lot of senior citizens live on Lorraine Dr.
“Summertime is coming up, kids are about to get out of school, and they’re playing on the streets,” Muniz said. “And my concern is that somebody is going to get hurt if something’s not done.”
According to a letter from Chief Kandy Benavides to City Administrator John Vidaurri dated May 11, the Devine Police Department conducted a 10-hour traffic study on Lorraine Dr. using both marked and unmarked vehicles. Sixty-one vehicles were observed, with none going above the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit.
District 3 Councilman David Espinosa said the situation was brought to his attention “a while back” and that he thought PD had done a study at that time.
“Just to let you know, I’m in favor for this,” Espinosa said. “If it’s come up twice, obviously there’s a problem. I don’t know if any of the other Council folks, if they agree with me, but we’ll see what we can do.”
District 1 Councilman Rufino “Flipper” Vega, who is Muniz’s Council representative, said that he and his daughters have seen cars speed on the street.
“I’m all for this, because I know they do [speed], I hear it,” Vega said.
District 5 Councilwoman Debra Randall thanked Muniz for bringing the issue to Council’s attention and said that she was sure speed humps were necessary.
“What I’m going to say has nothing to do with this in particular,” Randall said. “District 5 wanted three speed bumps and a speed reduction and it took three meetings, and more than one resident to come to a meeting to say there was a problem.”
Randall said again that she was glad Muniz brought the speeding issues on Lorraine Dr. issues to Council and asked if speed humps would be approved based on the concern of a single resident.
“Because if we are, just remember, we’re going to have a lot of other people coming in and doing this too,” Randall said. “I’m not saying we should say no on the speed bump. But you need to be aware that we’re setting a precedent.”
“Well, technically Council asked you to go and get a petition together, is what Council asked for,” Thompson said.
“And I did,” Randall said.
“Yes you did,” Thompson agreed.
“Because they didn’t take the word of one person,” Randall said.
Thompson himself initially suggested using a petition to make decisions on whether to grant citizen requests for speed limit changes and/or speed humps for their streets at the Regular meeting on March 16. Council followed Thompson’s lead, voting 4-1 over Randall’s objection to table her request for speed humps and a lowered speed limit on West Malone Drive pending the possible institution of petition policy (see “Council considers petition policy for speeding issues” in the March 24 edition of The Devine News).
The petition policy was then discussed at a Special meeting on April 6. No action was taken on changing W. Malone Dr.’s speed limit or installing speed humps because it had not been placed on the agenda (See “Decision on Malone Dr. speed limit, traffic humps set for April 20” in the April 14 ed. of the News).
When the matter was on the agenda again at the Regular meeting on April 20, Council unanimously approved speed humps and a lower speed limit for W. Malone Dr (see “Council discusses street repairs, lowers speed limit on Malone” in the Apr. 28 ed. of the News
At the May 18 meeting, Espinosa said that the daughter of a Mrs. Velasquez who lives on Lorraine Dr. brought concerns about the street to him over a year ago and asked City Secretary Dora Rodriguez to search for the traffic study that was done at that time.
“Unfortunately it’s not the first time, it’s actually twice,” Espinosa said. “It may not have come to the table, but it did come to our attention.”
“It hasn’t since I’ve been on Council,” Randall said. “But that’s okay, I’m sure they did, but just want you to understand we’re setting a precedent with one person coming and asking for speed humps.”
District 2 Councilwoman Angela Pichardo noted that two speed humps have already been installed in one district.
“So I think that to be equitable, I think that we should consider speed bumps in other districts, because I don’t think District 5 is the only one having this problem,” Pichardo said.
“I’m not saying not to consider them,” Randall said. “I never said that.”
“No, I understand what you’re saying,” Pichardo said. “But what I’m saying is we are setting a precedent–”
“But that’s that you implied,” Thompson interrupted.
“–but we already set that with two [speed humps] in one district,” Pichardo continued.
“And it took three meetings and petitions from the other residents,” Randall said.
“Let’s expedite it then,” said Pichardo, who was not on Council when the W. Malone Dr. speed reduction and speed humps were discussed and approved. “Let’s not waste all that time that you had to go through doing your interviews and getting signatures.”
Pichardo then asked Muniz about the accident he’d mentioned.
“Yes, a hit-and-run,” Muniz said. “They actually hit the car and threw it on the curb.”
“So that would be a concern,” Pichardo said. “Just to put that out there that we’ve already established, too.”
Lorraine Dr. resident Gloria Gutierrez, who identified herself as Muniz’s sister, took to the podium and described the traffic issues on the street as “really scary.”
“This happens a little after ten o’clock at night, but this is all the time, you guys,” Gutierrez said. “It’s really getting out of hand.”
Gutierrez said her neighbors down the street are elderly and that residents are afraid to let their grandchildren play outside for fear of speeders.
“I literally saw that dually, he was going so fast, whoever it was that was driving it, that they weren’t even able to stop at the stop sign and just continued to go through Mr. Perez’s property,” Gutierrez said. “And the scary part is that Mr. Perez and Mr. Esquibel, they sit in the middle of that sometimes at night, and something devastating could have happened right there.
“I just want you guys to know that.”
Pichardo asked if she could make a motion to put the question of speed humps for Lorraine Dr. on next month’s agenda to expedite the issue.
“Only because [Randall] took some time, it took you a while to do that, and so let’s get things done quickly and effectively–” Pichardo said.
“Then make the motion to do it tonight,” Randall interrupted.
“And take care of our city,” Pichardo finished.
“You can make that motion if you want to,” Thompson said. “However, you do need a second, I don’t know why we just, if we’re going to want it, just go ahead and do it tonight if that’s what Council’s already made up their mind.”
A Vega-Pichardo motion to approve up to two speed humps for Lorraine Dr. passed 5-0 with support from Espinosa, Randall, and District 4 Councilwoman Kathy Lawler.
By Marly Davis