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Laws don't work without enforcement

We have written here on more than one occasion about the habit of auto delivery trucks parking in the center left turn lanes of our busy streets. It keeps going on because we really don't have traffic enforcement: the Supervisors and the Sheriff defer to the CHP, which is responsible for traffic enforcement in unincorporated areas. The CHP is not adequately staffed for the job and their other assignments take priority. There's also a land use component to the problem in that many of our auto-commercial businesses are on land that was never intended for car sales, but the county let it happen. So when a used car business is allowed to occupy commercial property that used to be a 2-lane gas station or a washer-dryer store with a small parking lot, there's no place for the car carriers to park to load or unload cars. Further, many of our long-established dealerships either don't have delivery space or their dealership site has devolved into three separate businesses (as is the case for the former Braley & Graham Buick dealership at Fulton and Loma Vista). According to the CA Vehicle Code, the center left turn lane is there to facilitate turns. You can stop there while you wait for a safe opportunity to turn, but you can't park. If you leave your car there while you go into Starbucks for take-out coffee, say, you risk getting a ticket.

If a street has a center left turn lane, you must use it to prepare for or make a left turn, or to prepare for or make a permitted U-turn.
(CVC §21460.5 (c))

Locally, however, if you report trucks loading/unloading cars in the center left turn lane, the CHP's approach is to "work with" the dealerships, rather than write tickets. That sort of "soft" enforcement can improve things, but, ultimately it doesn't work because it is easy to ignore rules that don't have consequences. So the routine use of our community's center left turn lanes for delivery has persisted. But don't think car carriers are the only scofflaws. Maybe you have seen FedEx and UPS delivery trucks use the center left turn lane. And there was yet another example during midday today: a truck was unloading food supplies for Kaiser - in the center left turn lane on Cottage and it was blocking the emergency entrance used by ambulances. No big deal, you say? Well, what if you were the patient in the ambulance? Seconds matter, don't they? Besides, Kaiser Hospital is a huge facility with a very big parking lot. The excuse that "there is nowhere to park for deliveries" doesn't work there. Delivery trucks have been going there for decades. Why, today, did a delivery truck park in the center left turn lane at the ambulance entrance? Well, maybe it's because rules don't mean anything if they aren't enforced. And that's just how it is in our unincorporated nowhere land, isn't it? Are you OK with that?


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