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Legislature OKs SF 19th Ave. double fine zone

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  • 8/23 SF Examiner
    Published Tuesday, August 23, 2005, in the San Francisco Examiner Higher fines on 19th Ave. approved by legislature Families of slain pedestrians embrace new
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 24, 2005
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      Published Tuesday, August 23, 2005, in the San Francisco Examiner

      Higher fines on 19th Ave. approved by legislature
      Families of slain pedestrians embrace new law

      By Marisa Lagos and Bonnie Eslinger

      For parents such as Mary Dalton, whose daughter was killed crossing
      19th Avenue in 2003, the grieving "never ends."

      But Dalton and other family members of people injured or killed along
      19th Avenue can find some respite, however small, in a law passed by
      the state Legislature Tuesday, which will double traffic-violation
      fines on the notoriously dangerous thoroughfare.

      Sponsored by Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, the bill now
      heads to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has 12 days to
      sign or veto it. This is the second year Yee has pushed for the
      steeper fines; the first draft was killed in an Assembly committee
      in 2004. This session, however, the legislation garnered bipartisan
      support in both houses.

      Because it is a state highway, The City could not change the street's
      speed limit without legislative approval; San Francisco, however,
      will receive the money generated by the additional fines.

      "It's a good step in the right direction," Dalton said by phone on
      Tuesday. Her daughter, Srijaya, was killed one day after graduating
      from San Francisco State University in May 2003, while crossing 19th
      Avenue at Quintara Street. The driver fled the scene and was never
      caught.

      "Any way that people can be held accountable -- that would be great,"
      Dalton said.

      In the last five years, 14 people have been killed on the
      thoroughfare, which runs from 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra
      Boulevard through Golden Gate Park and up to Park Presidio at Lake
      Street. Many of the victims were pedestrians, while others were
      drivers or passengers in cars.

      Yee is hopeful that the governor will sign the bill despite his
      concerns about increased fees or taxes.

      "This is really about saving lives -- how many more deaths are we
      going to accept before we put a stop to this?" he said.

      Public officials, including law enforcement officers, agree that,
      on its own, the bill will not be preventative. But increased
      enforcement -- and public awareness of the steep fines -- could go
      a long way, according to Assistant District Attorney Linda Klee and
      San Francisco Police Traffic Company Capt. Greg Corrales.

      Corrales said the Police Department already has plans to post
      motorcycle officers with radar guns on the road, adding that a speed
      clock recently installed on the street by AAA has done little to
      reduce violations.

      "They see how fast the speed limit is, see how fast they are going and
      continue to speed," he said, arguing that in certain traffic crimes,
      enforcement is the only effective tool.

      Kevin Cuevas, whose father-in-law was killed in 2003 on the street by
      a motorist who fled the scene, said his wife is still grieving.

      "I think my wife will be very pleased that we have not been
      forgotten," Cuevas said. "There's no peace and quiet yet. [The
      driver] is still out there."


      E-mail: mlagos@..., beslinger@...
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