Council Slows Traffic Around Trace Elementary

Sam Liccardo knows first hand the impact of traffic laws. The District 3 councilmember mentioned an unfortunate run in he had with a Caddy during a discussion today on reducing speed limits around Trace Elementary School. 

“As somebody who’s been hit at 15 miles an hour, I can confirm that you don’t want to be hit at that, or at 25,” Liccardo said. In an interview afterwards, he described a scare he got at age 13.

“I was riding my bike over to some ball fields over by the junior college, and a guy hit me,” Liccardo says. “My body didn’t make much contact with the car. It just hit the bike and I went over the car. And then the driver yelled at me for screwing up his Cadillac.”

Liccardo admits that he wasn’t wearing a helmet (it was the early ‘80s, before they were in style) and says the incident was more a blow to his ego than anything else.

“I was even too embarrassed to tell my parents, because I was probably screwing up anyway,” he says with a laugh. “I wish there was something juicer there, like I was hit by a political opponent. But that wasn’t the case.”

Adolescent cycling transgressions aside, Liccardo and the rest of the council unanimously passed District 6 rep Pierluigi Oliverio’s recommendation to cut traffic speeds at Trace.

On July 5, the Rose Garden school lost 16 classrooms and a library in a devastating fire. The blaze has sparked local debate over school district money-saving measures, particularly because fire alarms and sprinklers were not installed in the building that was destroyed by flames.

The council’s decision to slow motorist’s down from 25 to 15 miles per hour came a day after the first day of the fall semester. It was motivated by the fact that the school’s 1,000-plus students must cross Dana Avenue, between Hester Avenue and Naglee Avenue, to attend class in portable buildings across the street.


  1. Sam, I feel your pain.  I had my paper route bike hit when I was a kid.  A guy made a right turn without slowing down, and clipped my front tire.  My butterfly handlebar flew and drove itself into my upper thigh about 2 inches from the scrote.  I got lucky with just a bruise.

    I was again hit by Weinersnitzel on Bascom Ave in Campbell as someone pulled out of the drive through.  They pushed me about 6 feet, completely unaware of my presence for about 3 seconds.

    I guess I’ve been pretty lucky.

    • I nearly got killed riding my bike on McGlincey Lane in Campbell, in 1986.  The car (doing about 45, driven by rowdies about the same age that I was) narrowly missed me, but it was almost all over right then (I actually closed my eyes out of sheer terror, right at the moment of decision).  That same summer, I VERY nearly drowned at Guadalupe Reservoir, too.

      Anyhoo, I’m not sure that a 15 MPH speed limit isn’t excessive (admittedly, I’m not aware of all the facts in this case).  At all the schools around here, kids never walk to school anyway, but are invariably driven there (thus making any street where there is a school located one you want to avoid at all costs, any time near when you’d suppose school either starts or lets out).  Perhaps in this neighborhood (not sure where Trace Elementary is located), kids still walk (or bike) to school, like I used to do in the 1970s (and I suspect Robert did as well).  Or is letting your kid walk unattended to school considered child abuse these days?

  2. Reducing speed limits when there is NO traffic enforcement is a waste of time. I live near Farnham School and these parents drive like a bat out of hell. Why? Because there are no Police Officers out here to stop them.

    • Not to worry Kathleen. Pierluigi has been in contact with the Hells Angels to outsource the traffic enforcement our own SJPD motorcycles officers did until this unit was gutted and cut in half last year.

    • This sate and every jurisdication in it has thousands of laws that are not enforced.

      This a.m. I was stopped @ Curtner & Cottle, near WGHS & the associated middle school.  As the light turned green for me, a car that had entered on the yellow for Cottle turned left onto Curtner. 

      The, TWO other cars sped through the red light and turned left onto Curnter, heading toward 87.  The first was a champagne colored SUV, and the second was a GMC Yukon, licnese plate H8TNME. 

      The cops need to make the rounds @ the schools and get writers cramp from issuing citations

    • Robert Cortese,
      “It’s at least something though right?  Better than nothing?”

      I like you very much Robert but NO it is NOT better than nothing. My elderly neighbor and her grandson were involved in a hit and run by the school. She was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Her grandson, 10 years old, was crying his eyes out.

      To say a new speed limit SIGN could and does take the place of a Traffic Enforcement Officer, is just another way our electeds pretend to deal with a very serious problem. In my eyes it is a disgrace. Our children and we tax payers deserve better from our tax dollars, and these electeds.

      • Kathy you gave me a great idea…

        Mandatory speed bumps in front of all schools.  While we’re at it, let’s throw some blinky crosswalks in (like the kind they have in WG)West

        Looks like it’s time for another trip to city hall smile

        • “Mandatory speed bumps in front of all schools.”

          I hate speed bumps (they often seem poorly designed, so that they jar you uncomfortably, irrespective of how slow you are or are not traveling; maybe its just nostalgia, but it seems like speed bumps in the 70s & 80s actually rewarded you for passing slowly over them, instead of punishing anyone who passes over them at any speed), but despite the decline in speed bump engineering, this really does make sense.

  3. Same problem in D9. Drivers blow through red lights, travel 10-20+ miles above the speed limit, etc. It’s just a matter of time before somebody gets hurt near the school. And Kathleen is correct that without enforcement it is a waste of time.
    In the 5 years I’ve lived near the school I think there has been police enforcement 2 or 3 times. That does nothing to stop the chronic violators.

    • I used to always see a San Jose cop parked near Carlton Elementary (on Carlton Ave), and sometimes even a CHP patrol car going down that street.  Presently, they have one of those speed monitoring trailer devices on Carlton (I don’t think those things can ticket you, but people often believe that they can).  I’m not sure why the authorities pay so much attention to Carlton, and so little to Farnham or wherever, but perhaps its because neighbors near Carlton organized & demanded it?  Maybe bringing up this problem at the next District 9 Council forum would be a good start towards getting some action in this regard?

  4. “Council Slows Traffic Around Trace Elementary”

    The headline should read “Council puts signs around Trace Elementary”.

    A few folks may slow, but a sign does little to alter the behavior of most.

  5. Enforce the existing law.  Making the speed limit 15 MPH, which is impossible to drive, is just a way to generate more speeding tickets.

    Also, speed bumps in front of schools is not a well thought out idea.  Speed bumps are in force 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Children are only going to and from school a few hours a day for a portion of the year.

  6. Our police department is the lowest staffed per capita of all major police departments in the United States. The motorcycle traffic enforcment unit at SJPD has literally been cut in half over the past 3 years. All the signs and speedbumps don’t mean anything to the narcissistic idiots who don’t give a damn about kids and the elderly. They will continue to fly down these streets until things get to the point where it affects them, like by getting a $500 ticket and/or losing their license and vehicle.

    • I don’t know…I think most people slow down when there’s a speed bump approaching.  Even selfish people don’t like being jarred, and maybe damaging their car, after all.

  7. Joe/Steve

    You guys aren’t cops are you?  Because both of you allure that you might be.(Joe Friday=Dragnet=Cop Show.. Steve talks of police cuts)

    How much does a speed bump cost anyways?  I’m probably at the high end, but I’d guess [email protected]  How much would it cost to have a cop in front of a school 4 hours a day?  More than $30k, so it makes sense from a numbers standpoint as well.  247 deterrent for $30k, vs $210-300k for an officer for the same coverage.  Guess where I want my taxes going?

    While it would be nice to afford the staff to actually watch stuff, reality is we’re broke.  Prioritizing the limited resources we have left, I’d rather have cops solving rapes and murders than stopping speeders in front of schools.  Cracking down on Methamphetamine is a bigger priority to me as well.

  8. “I’d rather have cops solving rapes and murders than stopping speeders in front of schools.  Cracking down on Methamphetamine is a bigger priority to me as well.”

    Robert, I am a private citizen with children who attend a school where a 12 year old child was mangled and killed by a motorist who was estimated to be going 50 mph in a school zone. One leg had been detached from her body and her head had been crushed by a tire running over it.

    It is funny that you think I am an officer since I complain of police cuts and staffing issues. I didn’t realize your average citizen should not be concerned by this.

    I also find it rather sad that you think “Cracking down on Methamphetamine is a bigger priority” to you than the life of a school child. I will choose the safety of my own child over arresting a crack head. Sorry that is not your priority.

    Lastly, your numbers do not add up. It does not cost “$210-300k” to have an officer in front of a school for 4 hours per day. Besides, if an officer writes just 1 ticket per hour at about $400-500 per ticket, this way more than offsets whatever his/her salary would cost. Robert, get your facts straight please.

    • Steve,

      Each officer shift is 8 hours.  You need 3 shifts for 247 coverage.  Officers start at [email protected], and average about [email protected] year.  3 times 70-100k is [email protected]

      So my math should be dead on.

      Just curious, this person that did 50mph in a school zone, were they under the influence of any controlled substances?  I’m going to guess yes.

      Certainly what happened was tragic, but it’s an instant. And if my suspicions of drug use are correct, could have been preventable.

      Children living with meth addicted parents is a chronic, ongoing problem.  I knew kids growing up with parents who’s entire lives revolved around scraping enough money together to get that next 16th of krank.  Their lives were spent constantly shuffling from hotel to hotel on Monterrey highway because the deadbeat parents wouldn’t pay for hotel, and they would have to move when the sheriff showed up to evict them. 

      It’s a scourge…  It affects more “schoolchildren” on a daily basis than a few speeders.  We have an entire county shelter and juvenile hall filled with the children of meth parents.

      And please don’t degrade the discussion with comments like “Get your facts straight”. If you want to make points/counterpoints that’s fine but lets keep it civil.  Sorry I suspected you were a cop.

      • Robert,
        Please go back and read your first post. You were the one who wrote “How much would it cost to have a cop in front of a school 4 hours a day?” I based my figure on what you originally wrote. In your next post you then state “Each officer shift is 8 hours.  You need 3 shifts for 247 coverage.” Which is it Robert, one officer for 4 hours per day, or 24 hour a day coverage?? By the way, Robert, officers work 10 hour shifts, not 8 hour shifts. Not a big deal but it makes me question how familiar you really are with the police department and staffing issues.

        Robert, if you think traffic enforcment doesn’t return much to society for the money spent, how can you possibly support the billions of dollars spent on a drug war that was lost long ago? How many billions are spent keeping those in prison who are not dealers and made a choice to destroy their own life?

        I find the question you posed, “Just curious, this person that did 50mph in a school zone, were they under the influence of any controlled substances?  I’m going to guess yes”, to be utterly ridiculous. How on earth do you possibly make this assumption? What expertise do you possess to make this observation having absolutely no facts as to what happened aside from what I stated? Anybody who drives and has contact with the outside world only needs to be slighty observant to see cars constantly driving way over the speed limit in areas such as neighborhoods and school zones. Take a drive on the freeway. I can go 70 MPH and have cars pass me all day long going 80 plus MPH in the fast lane. Are all these drivers on crank also?

        You must have been a big fan of the film “Reefer Madness”.

        Again Robert, I am more than willing to pay for traffic enforcement around a school that will save a child’s life, rather than spend billions on feel good programs that normally are useless, incarceration for small time drug users, and the waste of court time. If you would get more satisfaction going after a small time drug user and instead see a child get killed or mangled due to lack of traffic enforcement, that is your choice. Explain it to the child’s parents. We will have to agree to disagree.

        • Doing 80 on the freeway is not really comparable to doing 50 in a residential school zone.  I think almost everyone here has done the former, while almost none of us have likely done the latter (and among those who have, probably not since they were like 20 or so).

  9. The police should perform random enforcement at all schools in San Jose.

    One effective technique the police can use when they pull speeding drivers over is to draw their weapons.

    The police can point their Glock 9mm guns at the drivers head.  By holding their gun six inches from the drivers head and placing their finger on the trigger, it will get the drivers attention real quick.

    The police should also order drivers out of their vehicles and make them lie on the ground.  Search their bodies and cars.  Make the process so time consuming and so frightening that people driving near schools will get the message and slow down.

    • I’d rather people just keep on speeding, thanks anyway.  The tickets already run a person often several hundred dollars, boost your insurance rates, and add a point your driver’s license.  Get four points in two (or three?) years, and your license is automatically suspended.  All they need do is enforce this unpleasant reality on people.  There’s no need to go all Waffen SS on speeders.