By Catherine Manso

The San Juan Capistrano City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a petition from a group of residents to add speed humps on a residential street, near an elementary school.

The speed humps would be located along Via Madonna, between Via Del Cerro and Camino Santo Domingo, a block from Ambuehl Elementary School.

Residents living on Via Madonna and the surrounding neighborhood complained that speeding cars traveling on the street threatened neighborhood children, as well as students at the school.

“If we can stop that one speeder and keep him from hitting that one youth, we’ve done our job,” said resident Morgan Smith.

The city conducted a survey of the 26 residents on Via Madonna. Twenty-four residents signed in favor of the speed humps while two abstained.

“We are all here for the 26 people who can’t speak up … This isn’t a Via Madonna issue. This is a neighborhood issue,” said Sarah James, who helped to organize the petition.

The city’s Public Works and Utilities Department conducted a study at the location to determine if the installation of speed humps met city standards. Four out of the five standards were met, including the petition, speed limit on the road, as well as traffic flow and road geometry. The final condition that was not met was that 85 percent of the traffic on the road needed to travel at 30 mph or more; 25 mph was recorded.

Although the city’s Police Services did not object to the speed humps, the Orange County Fire Authority recommended against them, saying that they would add 10-20 seconds to response time. However, Mayor Sam Allevato said the greater concern was the safety of the residents and children.

“Seconds are important in an emergency situation, but it is outweighed here. The benefit far outweighs the possibility of time,” Allevato said.

The location of the speed humps will be determined by the city’s traffic engineers. George Alvarez, traffic engineer, is in the process of preparing plans for the installation of speed humps on Via Madonna. “We have a contractor that’s going to be starting to work in late March,” Alvarez said.

“These are the type of issues that are most challenging,” Councilman Derek Reeve said. “Often times we have neighbors going against neighbors. In this case, this is a direction we should go.”

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