ST. HELENA — Listen up, death moms, leadfoots and Spring Street drag racers — the City Council wants you to slow down.
At Mayor Ann Nevero’s suggestion, the council is considering an anti-speeding campaign aimed at making local streets safer.
The council brainstormed Tuesday, bringing up ideas ranging from lower speed limits to publishing the names of speeders in the St. Helena Star. A subcommittee of Nevero and Councilmember Mario Sculatti will meet and come back to the council in September with a menu of options.
Sculatti said the city should work with the school district, since some of the most infamous speeders are so-called “death mothers” rushing to get their kids to school on time, often while texting.
“For a slogan, how about ‘Don’t be a death mom,’” he said.
Nevero said traffic seems to be a universal concern around town, even though Police Chief Jackie Rubin said locals — not tourists — are largely responsible for what she called a “shocking” epidemic of speeding.
“Every street in town is a nightmare,” said Rubin.
The problem seems to have spiked since the Highway 29 roadwork started, as drivers familiar with St. Helena’s streets zip through residential areas to avoid delays.
Nevero said efforts to cut down on speeding are consistent with new policies the council has recently added to the General Plan. The revised plan will emphasize that the city’s primary traffic goal is to make streets safer and encourage biking and walking, not move cars around faster.
Pam Smithers said she’s lived on South Crane Avenue for 24 years. Problems with traffic and speeding got worse when St. Helena Primary School was built, and the road has continued to get more and more dangerous.
Smithers proposed a three-pronged campaign of education, enforcement and engineering. The latter could involve bike paths and traffic circles, she said.
Councilmembers also suggested more stop signs on high-speed straightaways like Spring Street, combined with a citywide 25-mph speed limit. Rubin said a 20-mph probably wouldn’t hold up in court.
Rubin said hiring a traffic officer would be the best option, but the cost would be upwards of $130,000 a year. She said regular officers do as much traffic enforcement as they can, but they’re often called away to deal with more pressing matters.
Officers have been handing out more speeding tickets, even though most of the revenue from fines goes to the state and the county, said Rubin. She suggested publishing traffic fines in the Star to remind people how expensive they are. Sculatti admitted he recently got a $500 speeding ticket outside the city.