Mountain View Voice

News - April 17, 2009

Curb enthusiasm

by Daniel DeBolt

The City Council unanimously made an exception to the rules Tuesday, allowing the Rex Manor neighborhood to keep its much-loved rolled curbs.

The city was preparing to rebuild 10 streets and sidewalks in the area — just north of Central Expressway between Burgoyne and Farley streets — when public outcry over the benefits of the rolled curbs caused city staff to reconsider the idea, eventually recommending an exception to the city standard.

A city survey found that 78 percent of the neighborhood supported rolled curbs, and only 15 percent preferred vertical curbs.

"In our experience and for our neighborhood, rolled curbs fit. They suit our needs," said Rich Tanner, a Rex Manor resident.

The rolled curbs allow a flatter sidewalk with no dips for driveways, and homeowners have made use of the resulting design flexibility, relocating driveways without changing the sidewalk.

But to some, the flexibility can be a bad thing, letting drivers park their cars on sidewalks and lawns.

The city's standard vertical curbs could provide a little more safety for sidewalk users, as it is harder for a car to jump a vertical curb.

Several council members said they were fans of rolled curbs, including Tom Means, who said that as a kid who grew up with rolled curbs he found they were better for floating boats down the gutter in the rain.


Posted by RMT of Rex Manor, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 22, 2009 at 9:40 pm

"Vertical curbs" were supposedly intended to prevent illegal parking, but in fact, it can't. At most it may reduce one specific type of illegal parking, but that marginal improvement would come at a high price indeed.

Before throwing out the baby with the bathwater (which would then never be recovered), it would be wise to first try something which virtually everyone wants tried (well, all but one guy that is).

Since the city has never made one effort to inform the people of the laws regarding how to lawfully parallel park at rolled curbs, it's no surprise that so many people violate the laws they are not even aware of. So, making an effort to notify people of the laws should be tried first.

It's vastly cheaper and easier to send out a notice of the laws than any other method to address the illegal parking issues.

Only one person objected to letting the people know the laws. All he wanted was to flood the neighborhood with cops writing tickets for every possible violation they could come up with and to out-law owning more than 2 cars per house. But then that guy also refered to Rex Manor as a quote: "low-income slum" which has "gone to hell because of all the minorities and foreigners who have moved into the neighborhood". So, I don't think his opinions are very common in the neighborhood.

Keeping the public ignorant by design is no solution to anything.

Making a reasonable effort to inform the public of the laws is highly likely to get most violators to comply with the laws. Even if it's only to avoid whatever the fine would be if they got a ticket for illegal parking.

Rolled curbs and flat sidewalks provide a wide variety of real benefits, vertical curbs not only take away the benefits of rolled curbs, but vertical curbs don't provide any real benefits in return for the loss.

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