Residents plead for better traffic management

A larger-than-normal crowd turned out at a meeting of the Keizer Traffic Safety, Pedestrian and Bikeways Committee to talk traffic Thursday, Feb. 13. 

“We believe there is a problem. We want someone to acknowledge it and help solve it,” said resident John Henry Maurice. “During my time on this committee, many people came over and over again to talk about the problem. We need a solution that is multifaceted and broad-based.”

In 2019, members of the committee heard from most sectors of the city about speeding on neighborhood streets. Some of those involved are hoping a more united front pushes city officials to take action. 

Carol Doerfler, president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, said speeding in neighborhoods is about more than safety alone. 

“This has to do with property values. I have a neighbor who said they never would have bought their house if they knew how people sped down the street,” Doerfler said. “I think for the city to ignore this is just not right.”

In response to many of the complaints, the Keizer Police Department took action of some sort. While traffic officers – there are only two and a sergeant – deploy in problem areas and others that are known to be longtime trouble spots, radar trailers and speed signs that notify drivers how fast they are traveling were deployed in almost every instance. 

Keizertimes spoke with KPD traffic officers last month about speeding in neighborhoods. Lt. Trevor Wenning said they respond to many complaints by deploying unmanned controls and sharing data collected with concerned residents. Frequently, the data does not support the perceived need for enforcement. However, once those tools are put elsewhere in the city, the problems return, according to residents. 

“When the trailers leave, the solution goes away,” said Ken Gierloff, a resident of southeast Keizer. 

Gierloff, a longtime participant in the Southeast Keizer Neighborhood Association (SEKNA), said one solution that bore fruit in the past was noting the type of car and license plate, getting the name and address of the owner from Keizer police and then sending a letter of concern signed by the neighborhood association. 

Resident Wes Jackson agreed that enforcement was likely better suited to other types of crime, but advocated for redesigning streets to slow drivers down. 

“Part of the issue is the lack of sidewalks. I strongly support passive means of reducing speeds,” Jackson said. 

Marty Giovannini said problems are not limited to speeding. 

“Some residents living on Clearview (Drive Northeast) have expressed their concerns about parking in bike lanes. There is consistent parking in those lanes and there are a lot of kids on that street,” he said. 

Parking is not allowed in bike lanes, but Giovannini lamented that lack of any signage regarding the prohibition. 

“There should be some sort of notification,” agreed Steven Wolf, a member of the committee. 

Jackson’s suggestion of passive controls lit a fire under one member of the committee, David Dempster. Dempster proposed taking part of the next city budget talks and recommending a set amount be put aside to begin installing sidewalks throughout the city. He planned an initial request of $30,000 a year. 

“I’ll get a copy of the budget when it comes out and I’ll find that money,” Dempster said. 

“The key thing is putting some money aside whether it be to do repairs or have a match for a grant,” added Hersch Sangster, a committee member. 

City Councilor Dan Kohler, the council liaison, felt $30,000 was a big ask given that the city is struggling to find $15,000 for a human resources software program, but “You lose 100 percent of what you don’t ask for. The key is knowing when to ask,” he said.