Norwalk will start putting stop signs at blacked out intersections


NORWALK – Intersections may become a little safer during power outages after the City Council on Tuesday reversed a policy that prohibited Public Safety staff from putting up stop signs or providing traffic control at intersections during black outs.

Following the advice of their insurance carrier, the City Council in 2016 adopted policy that directed city employees not to install stop signs or provide traffic control during power outages.

The policy was based on a recommendation from the California Joint Power Insurance Agency that said cities could be held liable if a collision occurred at a blacked out intersection after the city installed stop signs.

Instead, Norwalk expected drivers to follow the California vehicle code, which requires drivers to stop at inoperative signals.

The policy, however, was met with backlash by residents.

“This policy issue is being brought forward for City Council reconsideration in light of the city’s experience in the last year, in which several outages at signalized intersections have resulted in a high volume of community calls for Public Safety to respond and provide traffic control to relieve traffic congestion and improve the flow of traffic,” public safety director Grissel Chavez wrote in a staff report.

“In following the current policy, the Department is not able to respond in the requested manner.”

With Tuesday’s decision, Norwalk can now dispatch public safety officers to intersections that lose power.

There are 84 signalized intersections under Norwalk’s jurisdiction.

GAS STATIONS: The Norwalk City Council on Tuesday extended a temporary ban on new gas stations as the city investigates their proliferation in Norwalk.

The ordinance passed Tuesday prevents new gas stations from opening in the city for one year. It also restricts current Norwalk gas stations from expanding.

Concerned over the number of new gas stations in the city, Norwalk council members established a 45-day prohibition on fuel stations on Dec. 5, 2017. A month later, the council extended the moratorium an additional 10 months and 15 days.

This week’s extension is the final extension permitted by law.

In addition to the number of gas station facilities in Norwalk, city officials expressed concern about environmental factors related to leaking underground storage tanks.

Officials said they’ll use the 1-year prohibition to monitor gas station regulations from other cities and make a comparative analysis.

FEE STUDY: Council members delayed a decision to hire an outside consultant to study and evaluate Norwalk’s set of fees pending more research.

The fee study is generally completed once every 10 years with the purpose of establishing rates and fees that do not exceed the estimated reasonable cost of providing those services, officials said.

“The results of these studies provide the city with the knowledge and tools to ensure that current cost recovery practices are compliant with local and state laws, and develop cost recovery policies that balance the needs of the General Fund against subsidies to promote growth and development,” city officials wrote in a staff report.

Matrix Consulting Group will conduct the fee study for Norwalk at a cost of $50,000. Matrix has completed financial services for area cities, including Downey and Montebello.

Norwalk’s last fee study occurred in May 2007.

BUS TECHNOLOGY: Norwalk buses will soon be receiving some serious technological upgrades.

On Tuesday, the City Council awarded a $1.29 million contract to upgrade its fleet of buses with intelligence software that will provide automatic vehicle location of buses, computer-aided dispatching, and software that calculates real-time information from data generated by this technology.

The contract was awarded to Avail Technologies Inc., which will now be tasked with developing and implementing the project, tabbed the Norwalk Intelligent Transportation System.

A separate contract worth $199,999 was awarded to EIGER Techsystems to act as a project manager for the technology implementation.

The project is mostly funded by state proposition funding, including $947,338 from Proposition 1B, $70,000 from Proposition A local return funds, and $280,000 from the Federal Transportation Administration.

Eric Piercefeatured