I would like to know if there is a city ordinance that states how many feet from a stop sign a tree can be. I can specifically name the corner of Sunrise Drive and Cooper Place and several others in that vicinity. Driving from Rancho Hills Drive towards Santa Teresa Blvd., there is a stop sign before Cooper that has a tree growing about 3 feet more or less in front of it. During the day you really have to look for the sign in order to see it and at night it’s hardly visible. Granted, the roadway alerts you to the stop ahead but it’s dangerous not to see it. I drive this area quite frequently and have had occasions in which I have almost passed it. I’m sure someone not entirely familiar with the area could miss it. Most of the other stop signs do not have trees right in front of them so I wondered. Thank you for looking into it.
Red Phone is glad to help on this safety issue, good caller! Red Phone began the investigation on the city’s website searching for ordinances governing the placement of trees or vegetation near stop signs. Red Phone found several ordinances establishing the installation of stop signs at specific street corners. However, Red Phone could not find an ordinance governing the location of trees or vegetation relative to stop signs. Red Phone contacted Gilroy Traffic Engineer Henry Servin for help.
Servin said, “Common sense applies. Unfortunately, young trees are sometimes planted without checking what needs to be seen behind them. We have a general rule that stop signs should be visible to approaching traffic for at least 5 seconds based on posted speed limit. Where this is not possible due to physical restriction, an advance stop sign warning may be placed at least 150 to 300 feet ahead. This is all explained in a chapter in the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.”
Servin continued, “Also, we do have a sight-distance requirement in Gilroy that street corners must be free of visual impediments over 18 inches high for at least 40 feet on each side approaching the corner. This is so child pedestrians and wheelchair users are visible at street crossings.”
Regarding the stop sign at the corner of Sunrise Drive and Cooper Place, Servin provided a photograph to Red Phone. It showed the tree branches that were blocking the sign were recently trimmed to a safe height. Regarding other concerns in the area (including other stop signs), Servin recommended calling the engineering phone line and leaving a detailed voice message, which will get a response. The number is (408) 846-0451. He asked that the caller provide the problem’s exact location.