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Digital Billboard Urges Drivers to Stop...Draggin My Heart

Mar 14, 2023 07:42PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
If a stop sign isn't enough to convince you to come to a stop... will Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty be able to do it?

That's the thought behind a new digital billboard at Valley Drive and 6th Street, the site of numerous vehicles' failures to stop.

The digital billboard, mounted at the Greenbelt before 6th Street, displays song lyrics with "Stop" in them. This week's featured lyric reads "Stop Draggin My Heart."

"The sign at 6th and Valley Drive is a clever way to make drivers aware of the stop sign," Jessica Borello, community affairs officer with the Manhattan Beach Police Department, told MB News. "We are hoping drivers take a look and stop rather than 'roll' or completely run the traffic enforcement sign."

Borello continued: "Each Friday, the community affairs office has the sign changed to different song lyrics. Got any favorites? Maybe you may just see it up."

Borello said it was not yet clear how long the sign would remain up.

6th Street Stop Sign a Cause for Concern

However, not everyone is convinced that the billboard will help. Tom Williams, a neighbor who has been creating videos of cars blasting through the 6th and Valley stop sign ((Video 1, Video 2, Video 3), told MB News that he has seen "no improvements" since the city installed the digital billboard. 

"I believe all that the city initially accomplished when first installing the sign on the west side of the street was to annoy the neighbors directly in front of it and partially block the west side stop sign leading to some incidental stop sign infractions," Williams said.

"The city’s motorcycle police very rarely get much of a break when they’ve set up here," he added.

(Photo illustration/video screenshot courtesy of Tom Wiliams)

Williams started a petition last year calling for the city to take action at 6th and Valley.

"Soft measures like re-striping, increased enforcement, blinky stop signs, do not go far enough to address this issue. The only way to mitigate the speed with which people traverse these streets is to implement legitimate traffic calming measures like speed humps, lane narrowing, diverters, chicanes, etc.," Williams wrote in the petition.

Starting next week, Williams said, he plans to start collecting signatures from Valley residents to petition the city to undertake a traffic study and "hopefully compel some engineering changes to happen."

Traffic and Speed Concerns Ongoing

Concerns about traffic and speeding continue throughout the city.

At the March 7 City Council meeting, several residents complained about the high speeds at which drivers travel down North Valley Drive between 35th and 27th Streets. 

Neighbor Chad Feilke made an emotional plea for councilmembers to do something about what he said he and his neighbors call "North Valley Speedway" because "there are constantly cars going 40, 50, 60, even 70 miles per hour."

"Unfortunately, last Thursday, a 6th grader was hit on Valley Drive - he's going to be fine - but it could have been anybody. It could have been my sons," said Feilke. "I have two boys and I've begged you guys for years to do something. Please do something. Put a stop sign in at Valley and Pine before somebody gets killed. There's no way for these kids to go up on Veterans Parkway, there's no way for them access the Greenbelt from 27th to 35th...They have to play chicken; they have to run into oncoming traffic of cars doing 30, 40, or 50 miles per hour to get onto the Greenbelt."

In September, a car-pedestrian accident at 2nd and Peck Avenue in Manhattan Beach caused minor injuries to two Pennekamp Elementary School students.

The students were crossing in the pedestrian crosswalk with a crossing guard present when they were hit by the car. A crossing guard on site said that the car did not stop at all at the crosswalk.

And in 2020, the hit-and-run death of a family dog on 1st Street in East Manhattan Beach inspired the "#ChewieStrong" campaign, with signs appearing all over town urging drivers to slow down.

"It's an issue throughout Manhattan Beach," said Mayor Steve Napolitano at the March 7 City Council meeting in response to the complaints about North Valley Drive. "People need to slow down. People need to respect that there are pedestrians, bikers, and everything else."

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