by Sara 

Angry neighbors, ?one way? or another


By reporter Steven Smalley
When is a one way street not a one way street? Upset residents on 24th Avenue West grapple with the question as homemade traffic signs appear on utility poles telling motorists they?re going the wrong way, they?re being photographed, and to slow down. Some neighbors take offense: “I feel like some vigilante is watching me, waiting for me to do something wrong. I?m really fearful about what their next step is,? says Harry Proctor, a?homeowner on 24th for the past nine years. ?Some community group has put some personal signage up. They say they?re representing a group no one has ever heard of and no one knows about…obviously they don?t know the law. This is not a one way street,? he insists. Proctor, a retired law enforcement official, explains how the street off of Manor Place West was marked with a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign in response to a neighborhood gathering with Seattle Department of Transportation officials 12 years ago. At that time, cars were converting 24th from a quiet side street to a busy shortcut on the way to Lawton Elementary. The neighborhood collectively sought action with the city, had a meeting, and got their decree. Although, according to police, the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign doesn?t make the street a one way. ?It?s not a one way street. We?ve verified that with the Seattle police department,? declares Alan Hollinger, another resident on 24th. Moreover, notes placed on cars, particularly one put on the windshield of an older woman who lives alone, have generated fear, he says. ?Is somebody sitting in the bushes with a camera? It makes them feel threatened,? Hollinger says. The note found on the woman?s car provided to Magnolia Voice reads as follows:
Your car has been observed knocking down garbage cans and driving against a one way street and blocking driveways and has been reported to document your actions on this street. It is advised that your behavior has been noted and observed by this neighborhood group that is against your behavior and actions in the community and that you are now put on notice that we have reported you.
?Telling people they were being watched and their actions were being documented,? Hollinger says, ?You feel like it?s an invasion of your privacy.? In addition to the ‘Slow Down’ and ‘One Way’ directives, homemade notices placed under the faded ‘Do Not Enter’ signs read, ‘Photo Enforced,’ although no one has seen any cameras.
Finally, in answer to the question, ?What?s next??, ?first Proctor replied, ?The police said the signs were illegal and we could take them down if we wish. He gave us a case number.? Then Hollinger suggested, ?If something more has to be done, I would say, ?Let?s go for it,? but do it on the community level.?? As of this post, the homemade signs are still attached to the poles.

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  1. If it is not a one-way street, then what sense does ‘Do Not Enter’ make? Don’t confuse the average person/driver because you don’t like what is occurring down a single street. That’s ridiculous! …and this neighborhood ‘watch’ group had better get some legal action behind what they’re doing, or legal action could be taken against them. Vigilantes have no place in our child and people friendly neighborhoods. Make it right!

    1. There is a difference. Traffic can be going in both directions on the other side of that sign. “Do Not Enter” simply means you can’t cross that point going in that direction. In other words, someone coming out of a driveway five feet past that sign is free to go in that direction.

  2. What good is this sign if it is not a one way street? A number of times I have had residence of that street drive through and park as I was coming up the street so can they be ticketed for not observing the sign?

    1. Do Not Enter restricts which way you can enter a street, but not how you exit. One Way restricts both. Do Not Enter is more appropriate for quiet residential streets (e.g., to prevent speeding through as a shortcut). One Way is more appropriate when you need a larger traffic volume to go through.

  3. That’s kind of amusing actually. I use this street almost every day and always assumed the do not enter meant just that… do not enter and this is a one way street…. now that I know.. looks like I’ll be entering.

    1. Do Not Enter means just that. What are we talking about, those of us who live on 24th, is often with the on-street parking it’s a real chore backing out. You come out in the direction you can. The original reasons for the Do Not Enter signs were to adjust the traffic flow north-bound. At the time, it was clear to DOT engineers, that residents had local access in either direction. If you notice, we were careful placing the signs north of the driveway for the convenience of the apartments on the corner of W. Manor & 24th. We did not want to not impede their access. I have contacted SDOT and welcome their input and recommendations. I think this story is positive in that it has already engendered so much passion. That is a good thing. Let the residents decide. Perhaps the consenus will go against my inclinations, yet I find that when a majority of those concerned are involved in the final decision, I have faith in a more positive outcome, not the wishes of a one-man Crime Watch.

      1. No one cares a — what the residents decide. If its a chore backing out, well that is how it is on many streets in Seattle. You bought there, so live with it. The law decided for you, not your little neighborhood posse deciding for the rest of the city what they can or cannot do on your alley of a street. Just because a bunch of you decide to make a law for yourself….you are begging to be sued. You have now alerted everyone in the area to tear down your illegal signs.

        1. Agree-Photo-enforced – Slow Down & Wrong Way- The Seattle Constabulary has already concured such signage is illegal. I don’t know about a neighborhood posse. I do know about the Do Not Enter Signs that where installed by the City who involved the residents of 24TH in the final decision.

          1. So which is it, illegal or not. Your post implies the city put up the sign or condoned it. IF not I will take them down when I walk my dog. Does anyone know if they are definitively backed by the city or if they are just some garbage the neighbors decided for themselves? It matters, because I am so opposed to people forcing their views on others against the laws that are in place. If the city supports it and the neighborhood can prove it, I will not. It seems these posts lack that clarity. I live to confront people who think that they can impose themselves on others…its become part of my personal expression. I’ve seen too much of the other extreme…the Taliban forbidding women to attend school, etc, that whenever I see self-righteousness based on a few people who decide that everyone has to do what they think is “right” I act. You are not the entire world, you are part of it.

          2. Yes the only sign(s) I am talking about are the do not enter signs the City put up. These other home made signs let me know you are free to join the sign take down party for those.

  4. More than one person is involved in this. A few years ago it wasn’t well marked I drove the “wrong” way and was stopped by a car going the other way and scolded. There has also been a lot of turnover in home ownership lately so I wonder if that will change.

    I can attest to the traffic driving to the school I actually looked into getting a traffic circle installed nearby and was told by the DOT that it wouldn’t be considered. I warn everyone about the moms in the minivans getting up speed to get up the hill.

  5. I get a lot of flack for standing up for my rights when it comes to neighbors and neighborhoods. Do what is right and be aggressive against people who are doing things that are unlawful. Stand up for yourself. If the laws say you can’t drive there, then make it painful for people who do. If the law isn’t behind you, expect that you will be transgressed. You are right, if the law isn’t behind you, you had better back down, or else someone like me will sue your pants off.

    1. Your language is very adversarial. It sounds as if you relish such fights. That’s an impediment to solving problems, people with aggressive, righteous, in-your-face attitudes. People on both sides of the issue feel strongly. If people would start by working together to solve the problem, there wouldn’t be a need for aggression and lawsuits. Maybe even the “losing” side could accept the outcome if it’s not framed in such a bullying, my way or the highway manner.

      1. Life is unfortunately adversarial. PUtting up signs was the first aggression. I have years of experience knowing exactly how to counter idiots who put up signs like that. Sweet talk isn’t it…it just lets the initial aggressor gain more territory and means the discussion accepts his or her first aggression as the starting point. Sorry, but that is real life.

      2. Thanks MoM that was the whole reason of taking this public. Hopefully to get some constructive imput. Funny thing with Eric is on many points I agree but could understand his atititude. Then again being a Merchant Mariner by trade we often encounter susch sensless characters. I think it’s what my father used to as a dry drunk.

  6. I looked into this a few years ago. I have no idea why the City DOT let them have that “Do Not Enter” sign as it violates the City’s signage manual. I asked for the records concerning the decision to put up the sign and the City never responded to my records request. I think DOT knows it’s illegal–they’ve done it in several other locations, too. It really should come down.

  7. If the goal is to reduce traffic and the use of 24th and a cut through, and thus the congestion and the speeding (I used to live on 22nd, and am now on 25th, so I know about speeding drivers using streets as cut thrus!), wouldnt the use of speed bumps be more effective than signs that are either misleading or not to code?

  8. These “Do Not Enter” signs are actually quite important on many Seattle streets where there is room for only a single lane of traffic. Many drivers in a hurry speed through these small streets as shortcuts instead of taking the larger arterials. Speeding on these streets is quite dangerous, especially since all the parked cars can obscure the view of children, pets, etc. This behavior can be discouraged by careful placement of “Do Not Enter” signs so that, if the rules are followed, the shortcuts no longer exist. Also, there’s not necessarily a connection between “Do Not Enter” and “One Way.” “Do Not Enter” merely limits which way you can enter the street, but not which way you can exit it.

  9. This is only and issue because of the continued work on Government Way. The construction delays have forced many families to look for another route to get their children to school on time. Several of the days I sat for over 5 minutes before I made it through the intersection. I respected the One Way signs, its posted, use the alley so you don’t get photographed. No charge for the free advice.

    1. Actually it is the details of life that define life. Whatever you do with you days are no more important than this issue. If you have the moral certainlty I do, and believe me I do, than a little sign is as important as whatever work project you are working on or reservation you have for dinner tonight. Living for right is such a pleasure. Living for conveneience such a boring life..

  10. Just as a note of interest, Google Maps labels the portion of 24th Ave W between approximately W Bertona St and W Thurman St as one way heading south. I’m not trying to claim that it actually is – it seems clear from the documentation posted here that it isn’t – but I’m sure that the “Do Not Enter” sign makes many people think it is one way, and others looking at Google Maps will come to the same conclusion (or consider it support for their interpretation).

  11. If every neighborhood starts “engineering” their own street signs the result will be complete chaos. The city needs to rule on this once and for all. Else, I see this escalating with a couple small groups/individuals fighting it out and folks getting hurt/killed.

  12. I know a lot about this…the residents on 24th Ave W got together to address the volume of 2-way traffic on their street. What is a residential street was being used as a 2-way arterial. SDOT used a meter to count and they were astonished at the number of vehicles per day. At that time, it was a block of families, most with little kids. Resident got up a petition, had multiple meetings with SDOT representatives and this current situation was the only cost-effective solution. OK – this was great for them…BUT now the vehicles transferred their routes over to the narrow and short block of 23rd Ave W. The volume of cars was incredible, garbage cans were hit, cars were hit and a neighbor’s dog was hit. The residents of 23rd Ave W had enough and got up their own petition, had the usage metered, and then meetings with SDOT. 23rd wanted to install a “turtle bulb” down at Gilman, or even “dead end” the street at Emerson – but the city said the cost was too great. Thus 23rd got the same Do Not Enter signs as 24th. So here’s how it works (as Keith has stated). Vehicles are prohibited from entering 23rd and 24th from Emerson and signage is posted – but the streets themselves are two way for the residents who live on them. Pretty simple. I live on one of these streets and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times drivers flip me off or yell at me for going the wrong way when I’m not – how hard is this? You just can’t enter from Emerson. Simple.

  13. One more thing – to this day vehicles consistently ignore the Do Not Enter signs. If I’m out working in the yard – it’s a two way street, people race down it with impunity. SDOT said that residents could request that Police come by and monitor on occasion -and that they would issue tickets to violators. I’ve sure considered that! Just two That said – the home made signs are completely inappropriate and the threatening notes unacceptable.

  14. I used to live on 24th Ave. W. and have always thought that those streets should be accessible for residents of the street, just not for through-traffic. A “residential traffic only” or “no thru traffic” sign might be more appropriate.

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