By Anthony Conklin
The Laguna Woods Golden Rain Foundation board has voted to replace 21 stop signs throughout the Village with new solar-powered, flashing red LED lights. The project will cost an estimated $42,913, to be funded from the Equipment Fund.
The purpose of the new stop signs “is to capture the driver’s attention through supplemental visual input,” the explanation of the project says.
The new signs are “intended to increase stopping compliance and reduce or prevent accidents by alerting the drivers of upcoming roadway changes, so they do not unintentionally run the stop sign.” The red flashing lights “will not only cut the cost due to the signs not needing to be hardwired, they will still flash day or night during a power outage when all the street lights are out.”
In the meeting July 5, board members gave arguments both for and against the project.
GRF Treasurer James Hopkins used evidence from a study in Texas that showed the effectiveness of flashing LED stop signs.
“Red LED lights embedded at each corner of a sign had consistent benefits for day and night-time stops,” Hopkins quoted from the study. “Overall, the rate of vehicles not stopping was reduced by 28.9% after the installation of (these) stop signs. This also reduced the rate of vehicles blowing through stop signs by 52.9%.”
Director Debbie Dotson called the signs a “preventive measure for those high-traffic intersections where a lot of people walk.”
“This is an important step for our vision-impaired and our walkers in the community,” she said. “You never know what you prevent.”
Director Reza Karimi wanted to clarify the costs of the new stop signs.
“The cost is around $34,000, not $48,000, for the stop signs because of labor, which we already have and accounted for,” he said. “We are doing our due diligence to make sure we are helping people who asked for our help and support on this issue.”
Karimi said he believes that if this project saves even one life, it will be worth it.
Director Elsie Addington said she doesn’t believe the new stop signs are needed.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea” to put in the new stop signs, she said. “I just don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate for our Village at this time.”
After the discussion, the board voted, 9-1, to approve the stop sign replacement project.
The adjusted daily COVID-19 case rate in Orange County increased to more than 32 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the OC Health Care Agency, as of Monday, July 11.
The testing positivity rate – the number of swabs and spit tests that return positive for the coronavirus – increased to 17.4%, and the health equity rate – the test positivity of disproportionately impacted neighborhoods – rose to 17.8%.
To date, county public officials have recorded 1,332 COVID-19 cases and 78 related deaths in the city of Laguna Woods.