Colusa County Sheriff Joe Garofalo and the California Highway Patrol hope to slow down leadfoots in Princeton, even if it means showing up at their homes.
The speeding problem in the county’s small river community was once again the primary subject of Garofalo’s town hall meeting on Thursday, but the agency’s ability to reconcile the wants and needs of the residents with limited law enforcement resources hasn’t changed since the last one.
“Speed is still unreal,” said Diana Roach, who lives on the north end of town on Highway 45. “I used to call the Sheriff’s Department every day. I’m sick and tired of trucks passing each other in front of my house. I live here. I’ve got grandkids here, and one of these days, one of them is going to dart out. We also have the arrogant people who step on the gas in front of my house because I called in on them.”
In recent years, the county and state tried to meet the town’s traffic-calming challenges in the form of a streetscape with stamped pavement at the entrances to town to remind drivers to slow down. It worked, but only for a short period, residents said.
“I would like to see a yellow flashing light at each end of town,” Roach added. “Something’s got to give before somebody is hurt. I can’t pull out of my driveway.”
Residents said some motorists drive 50 to 60 mph through town in a 35 mph zone, which create a safety hazard for children walking to and from school.
With Highway 45 in CHP jurisdiction, patrolling the eastside has been challenging, said Public Information Officer Franco Castillo.
“The county is big, and most of our calls are on I-5,” he said.
But Castillo said the CHP would be willing to try something new. He wants residents not only to call the Williams CHP directly to report violators, but log times and record the makes, models, and license plates of the vehicles.
“If you can give us the license plate, then we can personally make a house call,” he said.
Castillo said that also knowing the times repeat offenders speed through town would be helpful.
Garofalo said his office would also boost efforts to patrol the area, and post a radar trailer for a time at the entrance to town.
Most people want to follow the rules of the road, he said, and often just need reminders to slow down.
“This isn’t a (problem) isolated to this area,” Garofalo said. “Almost every community meeting, it’s the same. It’s speeders. And a lot of the violators are people who live in the area as well. It’s not just the out-of-towners. It’s the locals, too.”
Meanwhile, Colusa County Public Works Director Scott Lamphier said the county would be applying for Safe Routes To School grant funding this summer for three projects, including one in Princeton.
“It’s a competitive process, so we will be competing against a lot of other agencies around the state for the money,” Lamphier said.
Lamphier said it could be sometime before the project is funded.
“If we do get awarded, it will probably be next year. But we do have a plan and we are working on it,” he said.
As with the Sheriff’s other community meetings, Princeton residents said they have a problem with “speeders” of another kind, when the people damaged from a lifetime of methamphetamine abuse come out at night.
Residents said the “weirdos” consistently knock on doors and rattle fences in the middle of the night.
There have also been several burglaries caught on camera that Garofalo said is under investigation.
Garofalo’s next town hall meeting is scheduled for 6 PM Thursday at the Maxwell Fire Department.
Garofalo said the meetings provide an opportunity for residents to share their thoughts and speak with staff from a number of agencies, including law enforcement, public works, and animal control. ■