Letters to the Editor

City makes bogus claims about school zone safety | Letters

(RE: “Driver argues school zone’s legality," Aug. 23):

There are several issues in conflict with the statement by city spokesman Chris Carrel wherein he writes: “The crosswalk is legally designated by the school district as a safe walking route according to state law.”

First, by law, school districts identify walking routes for elementary students only, not middle school students or above. RCW 28a.160.160 paragraph 5 provides for the following: “Each elementary school shall identify walk routes within the walk area. As used in this section, 'walk area' means that area around a school with an adequate roadway configuration to provide students access to school with a walking distance of less than one mile. Mileage must be measured along the shortest roadway or maintained public walkway where hazardous conditions do not exist.”

Again, by law, the identified walk routes may not be designed so as to cross private property. They must follow the roadway or public walkway. It should be noted that all property along the east side of 21st Avenue SW between SW Campus Drive and SW 341st Place is privately owned and may not be part of an identified walk route.

Chris Carrel also cites Principal 1 of RCW 41.61.440 as the basis for his contention that the school zone is legal. However, nothing contained within RCW 41.61.440 in its entirety provides for or legally authorizes school districts to designate safe walking routes for middle school students nor students of any grade level.

In fact, safe walking routes aren’t even mentioned in the statute. So for the city to post a crosswalk that is roughly 1,000 feet from any school property or playground as a “school zone” has done so outside the scope of the law. To claim that it’s legal because the school district has deemed that crosswalk as a “safe walking route” is bogus. School districts have absolutely no authority to arbitrarily pick a crosswalk and claim it to be a “safe walking route” and designate it as a school zone.

If the city and the district are genuinely interested in the student’s safety while walking to and from school, they would not promote crossing mid-block with only flashing warning lights, but instead encourage the students to cross at the corner with full traffic control.

An additional risk is encountered by those who use the crosswalk, since the most direct path from the crosswalk, to and from school, is across Fred Meyer parking lot, likely the path most, if not all, take. To suggest or encourage students to cut across a busy parking lot with vehicles traveling in all directions is certainly not in the students’ best interest and provides no protection for their safety and well being.

How then can the city’s position be to fully defend the validity of the unlawful school zone which is quoted as “protects the safety of children traveling to and from Saghalie Middle School,” yet provide no protection while they pass through nearly a thousand feet of vehicular parking lot traffic?

From the city’s perspective, one would have to wonder if the student’s safety is truly first and foremost, or is it the revenue generated by the cameras. The Federal Way Mirror’s article on photo enforcement and the revenue it generates may very well provide the answer.

Mr. Stephen Cramer’s ticket was rightfully dismissed. The school zone signs and the cameras need to be removed or at least replaced with signs designating what it really is: a “revenue generating speed trap!”

J.T. Mast, Federal Way


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