Memorandum posted at


Subject: The Second Stupidest Stop Sign in Los Altos Hills


To: Traffic Safety Committee, Town of Los Altos Hills


From: Lester Earnest, Committee Member and troublemaker


Warning: this memo is intended to be educational but contains some nasty remarks about the traffic safety policies of our town and the avoidance of responsibility for solving important problems. If that will upset you, skip reading it.


The Stupidest Stop Sign in Los Altos Hills was reviewed earlier [] and was reportedly put there at the request of an earlier Town Engineer. It almost certainly has caused an increase in accidents though no one has been keeping track. After I called attention to that problem in 2012 that stop sign should have been removed but, consistent with Town tendencies to do nothing, no such follow-up demand was made and Caltrans chose to do nothing while pretending to deal with it. Fortunately no one has died as a result so far.


What I am calling the Second Stupidest Stop Sign is at one end of my home street, the T-intersection where Dianne Drive meets O’Keefe Lane, and its history shows repeated failures of common sense by the Town Engineering Staff. Admittedly someone may be able to find an even stupider one elsewhere in town because there has so far been no systematic review of stupid stop signs, which I hope that we will soon undertake.


My neighborhood has seven streets ending in cul-de-sacs with seventy-some homes with only one road in or out and no emergency access road. As I began pointing out over 21 years ago there are at least five ways that an emergency access road could be created for this neighborhood at low cost but all the parties I have pointed this out to have ignored it, including the 1990s Town Safety Committee, the Joint Pathways & Safety Subcommittee, Town Council, Fire Commission, Town Council again, the Fire Commission again and the Traffic Safety Committee repeatedly. As a result, when the next big earthquake comes, which may be soon, people whose homes collapse or burn down and therefore need to get away with a vehicle in order to survive are likely to be trapped by fallen trees or power poles or by the flooding of Purissima Creek, as has happened in earlier El Nino years, and so will likely die in place. The same thing will likely happen to our nearby neighbors along both branches of Sunset Drive, which also has inexpensive potential solutions. So much for city planning.


Where the Second Stupidest Stop Sign came from.  There were initially no stop signs in my neighborhood, which worked fine, but about 30 years ago when a small car came downhill on Dianne Drive and attempted to turn left onto O’Keefe Lane it was hit by a fast moving larger vehicle travelling along that straight stretch of O’Keefe. The Town engineering staff decided that a stop sign was needed on Dianne and put one in, overlooking the fact that the cause of the collision was the tall bushes within the road right-of-way that prevented motorists (or cyclists like me) on Dianne from seeing traffic on O’Keefe and vice versa.


Some years later when the house on the corner there at 12675 Dianne Drive came in for a complete makeover I reviewed their landscaping plan and saw that the Town was planning to let them keep those tall bushes in place, so I submitted a complaint that resulted in their having to take them out. After that happened it became clear that they had constructed a very large and illegal shed in the street setback zone, so they had to take it out.


As time passed the tall bushes grew back and the homeowners chose to do nothing about them. I submitted a written complaint to the person responsible for enforcing town regulations and he blew me off, even after I showed him the photos below making it clear that a motorist stopped at the limit line on Dianne cannot see oncoming traffic, so the only thing one can do is to slowly poke the nose of your car onto O’Keefe in the hope that oncoming vehicles will see it and slow down enough for you to make the turn without a collision, but I had some close calls in doing that.



  When a car stops just past the stop sign                     This is what the driver can see (not enough)


What now needs to be done and what should have been done long ago is to remove the bushes blocking the view, make sure that they stay removed, and remove the stop sign, which is not needed if motorists can see each other. There likely are other places with the same problem because there has clearly been no systematic review of such things.