A View From Across The Street

Ellen Vinck, H.O.A. President of Rancho San Juan

Some of my fondest memories are of my high school years and truth be told it seems like ages ago!  Well, actually, I guess it was — at least decades. I live across the street from the high school in the Rancho San Juan Community and since March have been the president of the homeowner’s association.  Even though I have lived in RSJ for over three years, my house is at the furthest end away from the school. On warm nights when my sliding doors are open, I can hear the sounds of the band practicing, the roar of the crowd at a football game or other event.  It instantaneously brings me back to my own high school days. I was president of my senior class, was on the newspaper staff and was also one of our school mascots (we were Trojans, and yes, I was Helen of Troy — please don’t tell anyone else who lives in my community!)

Living here has been a wonderful experience and I have great neighbors, but the one issue that wreaks havoc is the same issue that I’m sure causes severe agitation, annoyance and sweaty palms to many SJHHS parents — THE DREADED DROP OFF AND PICK UP TIMES!  I have observed first-hand the long waits, cutting in of vehicles, illegal maneuvers, speeding and generally poor driving just in the effort of picking up or dropping off a student. It’s the one time I’m glad to be on the retired side of life and not having to deal with this difficult issue.

Having said that, from our side of the street, this also wreaks havoc when our entry streets are used as drop off sites in the morning, causing students to cross the dreaded Stallion Ridge Road in a lighted crosswalk that many drivers don’t respect.  Or, in the afternoon, trying to leave our community only to be blocked by parents or older siblings parked in the red zone in our entry streets, waiting to pick up their student. That old saying “a few ruin it for the majority” certainly holds true here.  As parents, we would never tolerate bad language or the breaking of the vehicle code by our teenage drivers, but yet, we see this happening by parent drivers every day.

Just yesterday, when attempting to go to the school for a meeting at 3:00 (yes, that was not smart planning on my part!!!) I drove out our gate closest to the school, only to have the entire U entry filled with parked cars waiting for students.  But why should I have been surprised? This is a daily occurrence. The left turn lane into our entry was backed up as far as I could see it, preventing residents from even being able to come home. Obviously the line to enter the school was backed up to La Pata.  This is the usual everyday situation. It was then that I spotted the Sheriff right in front of me and I was actually excited to see him!! Maybe now it might not take eternity to make my left hand turn to the school. Wishful thinking on my part. He was literally pulling up on the left side of the parked vehicles making it known that they shouldn’t be parking in the red fire zone.  Hmmm, they didn’t seem to care. I put on my left blinker signal and the Sheriff made a U-turn back around our entry to literally “push” these cars out. Even with the possibility of a ticket, they didn’t want to move. THAT is the problem.

I sat at the stop sign for about ten minutes before being able to turn left into the lane crawling toward the school.  After waiting to make that turn, I sat and continued to watch the Sheriff push people out of the gate entry horseshoe. I also watched him finally pull over a driver, hopefully then ticketed, for not respecting the crosswalk with pedestrians in it.  This is a very DANGEROUS SITUATION. One that deserves all parents or drivers to respect the rules of the road and protect the lives and ensure the safety of all students. Saving ten minutes, while jeopardizing lives just isn’t worth it. The multiple accidents, many involving vehicle vs. pedestrians, is a misnomer.  They are not “accidents” which mean that something happens that is totally unexpected or unpreventable. They are PREVENTABLE COLLISIONS. Speaking as someone who has endured the pain of a sibling killed in an avoidable collision, THIS IS NOT WORTH THE RISK. PLEASE ASK YOUR PARENTS TO EITHER SIT IN LINE WITH ALL THE OTHER PARENTS, OR WAIT UNTIL 3:15 TO PICK YOU UP.  Isn’t it worth your life or the life of another student? Nor is it safe to be standing in our entry street sidewalks. That also was proven out a few weeks ago. I would like to encourage all the SJHHS students to have this conversation with your parents if you are using this process for either drop off or pick up. YOUR LIFE COULD DEPEND ON IT!