Tahoe Ski Bum column: County needs to get behind electronic closure plan (opinion)
We are not unique in the fact that traffic apps have been showing shortcuts and causing headaches in neighborhoods, which have become freeways filled with people speeding through them to “save” up to a minute on their commute.
We do not have the luxury of support from our elected officials as other communities do, so we must come up with a solution ourselves.
Meyers is under siege every weekend with tourists trying to get home after a long weekend of enjoying what we sometimes take for granted and they are using traffic apps to try to get around the gridlock.
There are numerous horror stories of people urinating in driveways and confrontations with neighbors when they block our driveways. We are now even seeing large semi-trucks and buses on our side streets and this is all due to the use of the traffic apps.
So what do we do?
A little over two years ago we had several meetings with our officials to try to come up with a short-term solution for some relief while we work on long-term solutions. Traction control signs and the nudge system were employed — neither of which were enforceable or especially effective.
The California Highway Patrol and others found a California state law called the “ag rule.” This state law is enforceable by the California Highway Patrol as the state law enforcement agency. The ag sections specifically state the CHP has the authority to enforce their codes.
So how does this work?
When someone is stuck in traffic they get on a traffic app and it will direct them to the use of side streets to bypass the traffic backup. The traffic apps all get their information on road closures and highway information from Caltrans and El Dorado County, with Caltrans being the lead agency. If we were to upload an electronic closure based on the state ag law the apps would not show a shortcut.
CHP has identified several side roads for electronic closures that would prevent travelers from bypassing the Agricultural Station in Meyers.
CHP also has suggested the county work with Caltrans to place planned electronic road closures during holidays and other high-traffic-volume events.
Caltrans has the technology to do this now but the county does not. And Caltrans only implements closures for state highways — it is up to the county to request electronic closures for county roads.
The county also can have signs for the ag rule made and placed on side roads to inform tourists.
How many times have you seen tourists staring at their phone while speeding through our neighborhoods?
The city of South Lake Tahoe has indicated they will help with the placement of signs on Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
Caltrans has the technology to implement electronic closures now and the county is balking because they say they do not have the technology nor the funds. The cost of doing the nudge program is $200 per day and you will not see any EDCO officers out there doing enforcement because it is illegal to close a road.
It is legal to enforce a state law and if we can get the county on board with this free and permanent solution to the traffic apps perhaps we can get our neighborhoods back.
We have been trying to work with the county for over two years and have attended several meetings organized by our officials where the CHP and others have stated this will work and yet we have had no response.
I and others will be going down to the supervisors’ meeting with over 900 signatures, as of Wednesday afternoon, of local residents from a petition I started on change.org along with the horror stories that are circulating on social media like a frenzy. We are not closing roads and we are not telling the tourists they are not welcome here.
What we are doing is trying to prevent our neighborhoods from becoming freeways and toilets.
Please contact me with any stories — keep them short, please — and photos so I can have a complete package to take to the supervisors. Please sign our petition at: http://www.change.org/p/kenny-curtzwiler-implement-the-electronic-gps-closure-in-el-dorado-county? Send photos to: email@example.com.
Yes this is a Meyers problem, but we are one community up here and we need to come together on this as it affects us all. This is a solution that is backed by the CHP, Caltrans and most of the Meyers community.
The missing link in this is the support from our county.
Note to Tay: It was not a mutual decision, but thank you for the kind words.
Kenny Skibum Curtzwiler has been in South Lake Tahoe since the ‘70s and he knows “where the bodies are buried.” Reach him at skibumfamily @charter.net.