Pedestrians, Crosswalks and Frogger

I think many would agree that motor vehicle regulations have been put in place to address safety issues and to keep us safe. To be effective, these laws must be understood and applied fairly, not arbitrarily or capriciously. Given that broad statement, how should we drivers respond to pedestrians in crosswalks?

If you condense the VDOT Crosswalk statutes to their understandable part, what are we required to do when we come across a pedestrian and a crosswalk? VDOT laws can be found at http://www.virginiadot.org, specifically for crosswalks; 46.2-924 Drivers to stop for pedestrians.

If the speed limit on the road is 35 MPH or less, you are required to “yield the right of way to any pedestrian crossing…” Drivers entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change course, yield, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.

So, there you are driving down Pacific Ave down at the oceanfront and somebody steps into the crosswalk. You now slow down and some horn-happy driver behind you lets you know that apparently he is late for some important occasion. Or, even worse, that driver whips around you and then almost nails the pedestrian in the crosswalk. It is getting almost as dangerous for you to stop (getting rear-ended) as it is for the pedestrian if you don’t stop.

It seems like driver-pedestrian encounters are too commonplace and a lose-lose situation with mostly deadly consequences. People from other parts of the world where pedestrian crosswalk laws are rigidly enforced don’t know what applies. Some pedestrians become trapped in the no-man’s land, the center median as they seek temporary refuge. What gives?

How does the city and state (Dillon rules; state makes the laws, not the cities) solve this continuously dangerous situation? ENACT UNDERSTANDABLE LAWS, EDUCATE EVERYONE, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, ENFORCE. As for Frogger, it was a great video game in the mid-70’s where you, as a frog, tried to cross a busy road. This game should never be attempted in real life by us or our fellow drivers and pedestrians.

Miami and Virginia Beach are “are the top two areas of the country most at risk for residential…”

Miami and Virginia Beach are “are the top two areas of the country most at risk for residential…”.

Numbers like $39 billion do not seem to connect with most people in Virginia Beach, myself included. But, I can envision what a CAT2-3 hurricane could do to our community and my house. The thought of such losses can be daunting, but consider what you can do to limit the potential loss. And, that is what we are attempting to do at SDCC. We can’t give you a complete cure all package, but we can at least work to inform you how to limit the damages. We won’t pack your “go kit” for you, but we will tell you what you will need in it.

VMRC Joint Permit Application for Long Creek Dredging

On 30 January, the VMRC sent a letter to notify the residents along Long Creek of a Joint Permit Application #11-1830 concerning maintenance dredging. The commission requests protests to their application to be submitted within 15 days of the date of the memorandum (done by 14 February) if you wish to express your concerns with this project. The Permit letter and project drawings should be available on the VMRC website (www.mrc.virginia.gov) and will soon be made available on the http://www.SDCC.info site. I have attached my reply to this posting.

February 2, 2012

Mr. Justin D. Worrell, Environmental Engineer
Virginia Marine Resource Commission
2600 Washington Avenue
Newport News, VA 23607

Re: Joint Permit Application #11-1830, Long Creek Maintenance Dredging

Dear Mr. Worrell:

I thank you for giving our residents the opportunity to comment on the proposed maintenance dredging permit for Long Creek. One of our residents asked me the purpose of this notification as she has never received one before in the 37 years of living here. As she was not able to decipher the attached drawings, she asked how she could make an informed decision on this permit without sufficient information. I acknowledged her concerns. Is your letter of 30 January to serve as sufficient information or will public hearings be held?
On my review of the permit, I too have strong concerns. Many of the residents and boaters using Long Creek acknowledge that periodic maintenance dredging is needed every 4-5 years, but we question the scope of this project. As I have attended the majority of the Beaches and Waterways Advisory Committee meeting related to the Neighborhood Dredge (Spoils) Program for the Lynnhaven basin, I am very aware of the strong mistrust that many have of the city’s true motives concerning the proposed dredging of the Lynnhaven Basin, and Long Creek, and in particular, the use of Maple Street and Crab Creek areas as permanent mechanical transfer sites.
Concerning Long Creek and this permit, we are concerned with lack of thoroughness related to the city’s planning, the lack of sufficient studies related to traffic, safety, and the impact on the neighborhoods mainly involved. We have strong concerns about the quality of the dredged material, whether beach grade or unusable spoils, and the stated need for the permit’s mechanical dredging. We vehemently oppose any use of the Maple Street containment area for anything other than hydraulically transferred beach grade sand as non-beach grade sand would have detrimental environmental impact on both the adjacent preservation area and the water quality of Long Creek, one of our prime fishing areas.
We are requesting that the Joint Permit #11-1830 be sent back to the city of Virginia Beach to more adequately address our citizens’ concerns. Until such time as these concerns can be substantially met, we cannot support this permit.

Sincerely,

David M. Williams
President, Shore Drive Community Coalition
2104 West Admiral Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 234521

(757) 481-1668

What Will It TakeTo Be Heard?

Call me naive maybe, but I was taught in public school and spent my college and military years believing in our Democracy.  Even after egregious and impeachable acts of Richard Nixon, LCol Oliver North, and J. Edgar Hoover, and unnamed others who have hacked into our rights, our freedoms have prevailed somewhat intact.
The politicians of that “ill-clique”  up in Washington seemed removed from who we are and how we live our daily lives in a city like Virginia Beach.
I am reminded that all politics are local. The violations of our trust and confidence do not always occur  just from Washington.  Some of our citizens have experienced a trampling of their rights from our city staff and city appointed  “Advisory” committees. Any violations of our Constitutional rights should be directly challenged and corrected.

Should citizens be prevented from speaking at scheduled open forums or from asking the city questions concerning the safety of public projects that involve our neighborhoods? Should the city’s Public Works Department be the safety monitor and enforcer for those projects? Should a neighborhood’s rights be mauled to enable a “good ol’gal”  private business expansion? Should a neighborhood be pulped from dump truck traffic just to support  one private party who would commercially benefit? Mr. Fraim  has so stated. Ask Thomas Fraim, Chairman of the Beaches and Waterways Advisory Committee about open and transparent city staff meetings or free and open public committee meetings.

This Veteran’s Day, consider all those who have fought for our freedoms and our very Constitution. Consider this, if Hitler’s Third Reich had defeated us in WWII, or if Stalin’s communists had won the Cold War,  would our rights and our freedoms continue today? So, why should we accept any trampling on our rights,  back door politics, special deals, lack of transparency, and egregious acts from some city staff members?

Will the Mayor and City Council arrive at an honorable course of action that recognizes the mounting and significant citizen opposition to the Neighborhood Dredge (Spoils) Program?   Will city staff acknowledge the numerous serious flaws and lack of sufficient studies that exist in the Neighborhood Dredge (Spoils) Program?  We citizens will watch closely while some in City Council deliberate their fate and our  given rights.

The Pilot article notes, ‘the city has not identified any dredging project near the neighborhood.

Letter to the Editor about proposed Maple Street Dredge Spoils area at Pilotonline.com:

Re ‘Beach plans appeal over dredge site,’ Hampton Roads, Oct. 5: It is beyond my comprehension that the city of Virginia Beach, through its city attorney, would contemplate appealing to the Virginia Beach Circuit Court to reverse the Board of Zoning Appeals’ determination that the Maple Street site on Long Creek cannot be used for a public purpose. I was stunned to read of the appeal, especially since the public purpose intended is for the construction of a permanent, industrial dredged spoils transfer operation in the heart of a residentially zoned neighborhood.

Neighborhood Dredge Spoils Project, Our Constitutional Process

It is our Democratic process that permits us to freely petition our elected governmental representatives to address an issue that could potentially damage our property and take away from its value. It is our Constitution and our First Amendment rights that allow us the free exercise to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Should our own Virginia Beach City government be included in this right to “petition the Government”? I proclaim most strongly “yes” and have, as have so many others, put it all on the line to support and defend our Constitutional Rights.

Should a city appointed board tasked with making recommendations to resolve significant issues accept statements from the city’s staff, but not permit assembled citizens the right to state their position or to redress staff statements? Should derogatory statements that “there is much misinformation out there” be accepted without challenge from the board when the assembled are not permitted to speak to address the sources of that information?

To many citizens, these issues may be of small importance or no consequence, but I think it is vitally important. If we do not hold our local government accountable to us, we perch ourselves on the point of becoming irrelevant as free people with the power to elect. We merely become payer of taxes, not the proponent of our Rights. The rights exercised by City government are as important to us as the headwaters of a river. We must all be engaged and involved. It is our elected government whether it be city, state or Federal. We deserve what we get.

City Violates Zoning

In a letter to the Editor entitled “City Violates Zoning” (Sunday 6/18), Ms. Lynn Hume points out rightfully that the city is ignoring (violating) their own zoning protections.  What is appropriate for one area may not be appropriate for another area and that is why the city has zoning codes. Would you want a tattoo parlor operating in the middle of a residential area?  I did not think so.  So, why should the city be allowed to operate an industrial scale dredge spoils transfer site in a residential area?  If the city can expect us to accept this zoning violation, they will continue to ignore their city laws, misrepresent us while ignoring our petitions. Do we have a right to be represented  by our elected government?  I think we already declared our right to a representational form government.  Something about “taxation without representation” if I recall.