DANVILLE -- In August 2008, a pickup truck crossed the central line of the intersection of Lawrence Road and Jasmine Way, narrowly missing Laura and Evan Lee's home on Freesia Court, resident Evan Lee said.
It landed very close to his home, taking down their fence, two street trees and a city fence, he said during a March 18 Town Council meeting, as councilors considered whether to install a three-way stop sign in the curved intersection.
In a second serious accident on Dec. 1, another pickup truck failed to slow on the curving intersection on Lawrence, overturning more trees and landing at the foot of their home, Lee said. He and his wife are still finding debris in their yard from the wreckage, he said. And most recently, on March 5, a driver also lost control of his vehicle not far south from his home on Lawrence and Provence roads.
"There could have been a lot more damage and people getting hurt," Lee said. "I think it's just a matter of time if we don't do anything."
Lee was among eight residents who asked councilors at the meeting to install a three-way stop, a center median and other traffic measures, to prevent future serious accidents. But an equal number of residents, who live primarily in rural areas south of the intersection, spoke against the measure, arguing that it would lead to more stop-and-go traffic in their area, as well as go against promises made in the 1990s, that with increased development stop signs would not be installed along Lawrence Road.
"We all believe in safety first," said Tom McDaniel, a Lawrence Road resident living south of the intersection. But he said residents had not been given enough notice to study proposed measures, to reach a solution that was "not one-sided. He'd like other measures to be considered before making the decision to go to stop signs, and he's gathered the signatures of some 93 residents on a petition opposing them.
"No one wants this stop sign; everyone feels betrayed," he said.
Resident Tom Flood also questioned how much the three-way stop signs would help prevent accidents, considering that two of the serious accidents involved drivers who were intoxicated. He also said residents have already made compromises. They agreed to a stop sign at Lawrence Road and Casablanca Street, some 400 feet north of the intersection in question, to improve safety for kids going to Diablo Vista Middle School, which was opened in 2000, he said.
"We did not oppose the earlier stop sign," Flood said. "The slippery slope has arrived."
Meanwhile, Muhammed Jawaid, a Gerbera Street resident whose backyard fronts Lawrence Road, said that for drivers trying to turn right from Plumeria onto Lawrence into the curved intersection, "that is a blind corner."
Residents living near the intersection have seen a number of accidents and many near-misses there every day, he said. He and Evan Lee have themselves gathered about 65 signatures for a petition supporting the traffic improvements.
"That being a blind corner, an accident will happen," Jawaid emphasized to councilors. "Then who will be responsible? You will be responsible -- it'll be on your shoulders. And you'll open up a Pandora's box of lawsuits."
No serious injuries or deaths were the result of the three serious accidents at or near the intersection, though drivers lost control and crossed the center lane, veering over the opposite curb, crashing through trees and hitting utility poles, confirmed Danville spokesman Geoff Gillette on Thursday. In all of the accidents, drivers were speeding and the first two involved alcohol.
In response to the strong opinions expressed, councilors voted unanimously on Tuesday night to table the issue, until the town's traffic department comes up with a more detailed study of the various traffic options suggested as alternatives, such as tree barriers, a digital radar sign and a center median. It will take least 45 days before the issue comes back before the council.
Meanwhile, London Cammack, who said her family lives next to the Lee residence, made an emotional plea to councilors to install stop signs. She said she no longer lets her kids play in the cul-de-sac of Freesia Court, where a number of out-of-control cars have landed.
"If it hadn't been for that small barrier of trees, it could have been my own kids who were hit," she said. "You have to do something. If you don't, there will be someone who is hurt -- if not killed."
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.